UK-based upstream oil and gas firm BG Group has published an upbeat trading statement for the first quarter of the year, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) highlighted as a particular growth area.

BG Group has traded ahead of market expectations in the first quarter of 2006, due to the strong performance of its LNG business.

The LNG business segment is expected to report a first quarter operating profit of not less than GBP130 million. The LNG shipping and marketing business managed 40 cargoes in the quarter of which approximately two thirds were sold into markets outside of the US. This is due to very strong seasonal demand and higher realized prices in Japan and Europe.

The group’s E&P, transmission & distribution and power businesses have, together, traded broadly in line with market expectations, the firm said.

BG Group’s first quarter results will be announced on May 3, 2006.