UPDATE 1-ExxonMobil resumes PNG LNG production after quake

(Adds background, executive comment and details of project)

April 13 (Reuters) - ExxonMobil Corp has resumed production at the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, after it was shut down in the wake of a deadly earthquake in February, its Australian partners said on Friday.

Production at the PNG LNG project was halted after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Papua New Guinea's energy-rich interior on Feb. 26, causing landslides, damaging buildings and killing 100 people.

Operator Exxon Mobil Corp had earlier advised that production would restart in May 2018.

Australia's Oil Search Ltd and Santos Ltd said they had been advised that one train at the LNG plant near Port Moresby has started operations and the second train is expected to start up as gas production ramps up.

LNG exports were expected to resume shortly.

"The recommencement of operations at the PNG LNG Project, ahead of ExxonMobil's previously guided eight week timeframe, is a major achievement by the operator," said Oil Search Managing Director Peter Botten.

Santos is a foundation partner and holds a 13.5 percent interest in PNG LNG while Oil Search has a 29 percent stake.

(Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)