New Fortress Energy Inc on Thursday proposed to build the first offshore U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and have it running in 12 months, a relatively short time amid a market hungry for the liquid gas.

U.S. LNG producers are working near peak capacity to supply buyers seeking alternatives to Russian gas over its invasion of Ukraine. Shortages of gas and demand for LNG have pushed global prices to new highs and spurred interest in new projects.

There are several U.S. onshore LNG export terminals in development. But these giant plants can take five or more years to complete and cost billions of dollars. New Fortress's proposed offshore terminal would produce about 2.8 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), less than a third of onshore plants.

New Fortress plans to finance the project itself. It did not disclose the cost.

The company's unique "midsize" plant design puts modular processing gear atop widely-available drilling rigs that then serve as the fuel delivery site. It has acquired a rig and other components and requires only U.S. regulatory approvals to begin work, the company said.

"This project can play a significant role in supporting our nation's commitment to our European allies and their energy security as well as support our efforts to reduce emissions and energy poverty around the world," said New Fortress Chief Executive Wes Edens in a statement.

The Fast LNG plant design will "enable a much lower cost and faster deployment schedule," the company said. The terminal would sit in the Gulf of Mexico, 16 miles off the Louisiana coast, and allow tankers to dock and directly load.

The company earlier reached a preliminary deal to use its Fast LNG processing technology for a project with Italian oil and gas firm Eni SpA off the coast of Congo. The government of Mauritania is also considering the technology, New Fortress has said.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston; editing by Uttaresh.V)