NextDecade advances big LNG project in Texas into the FERC review process

On March 20, NextDecade LLC requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission let it enter the Pre-Filing process for its Rio Grande Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project and associated Rio Bravo Pipeline.

On March 23, NextDecade received notification from FERC of acceptance into the Pre-Filing process.

“NextDecade is thrilled to initiate the FERC process for our Rio Grande LNG project,” said Kathleen Eisbrenner, founder and CEO of NextDecade, in a March 23 statement. “Not only is this an important milestone, but it also signals the beginning of a crucial process that will lead to the best possible project. NextDecade is actively working with the FERC, our partners and communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley to bring this exceptional project to fruition.”

Rio Grande LNG LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of NextDecade, is a multi-billion dollar land-based LNG export project located on a 1,000-acre site along the Brownsville Shipping Channel in Brownsville, Texas. NextDecade’s proposal includes plans for up to six liquefaction trains each with a nominal output capacity of 4.5 million tons of LNG a year. The facility will be constructed in phases timed to meet market demand. The proposed 129-mile Rio Bravo Pipeline Co. LLC project will supply the facility with its feed-gas, connecting the facility to the highly liquid Agua Dulce natural gas market hub.

Shaun Davison, NextDecade’s Project Director for North America added that, “the complexity of an LNG export facility requires developers to fully appreciate the big picture. We knew going in that every aspect of the project had to be addressed and built into our design; from creating the upstream pipeline infrastructure as a gas supply platform for our terminal, to securing long-term off-take contracts. NextDecade is uniquely positioned to deliver on all fronts, start to finish.”

The Pre-File request comes after NextDecade’s recent completion of its Basis of Design (BOD) with engineering, procurement and construction firm Chicago Bridge & Iron. The first phase of the Rio Grande LNG project represents a direct investment of approximately $8 billion. The Final Investment Decision (FID) will come after the FERC and related permitting agencies have given full authorization to construct, expected in 2017.

Other members of the project team include:

  • CH-IV International – LNG Engineering managing consultant and safety and reliability study;
  • Ecology & Environment Inc. Environmental and permitting consultant;
  • Fugro Consultants Inc. – topographic, geophysical and geo-technical surveys;
  • Hunt, Guillot and Associates – Pipeline design and engineering consultant; and
  • Moffat & Nichol – BOD and FEED services for the marine infrastructure

“Since first visiting the Port of Brownsville in 2013, we have been working tirelessly to make this project a reality. Brownsville is a wonderful location for our facility,” added Eisbrenner. “With its position on the Gulf of Mexico, access to abundant gas supplies, and existing infrastructure, the Rio Grande Valley presents a fantastic opportunity for our project.”

The FERC process triggers a number of activities, including public input and comment periods, as well as a meticulous assessment of all aspects of the project and its potential impact. NextDecade said it is working diligently with its partners to minimize any environmental impact, while maximizing the economic benefits for the Rio Grande Valley. For the past several months, NextDecade has been pursuing an extensive public outreach campaign.

The project will utilize C3MR technology to be provided by Air Products and Chemicals. It will have six separate liquefaction trains, each driven by natural gas-fired General Electric Frame 7 combustion turbines supplemented with electric helper motors. Electrical power for the Rio Grande project is expected to be generated by natural-gas-fired turbine generators with a total capacity of approximately 300 MW electrical (MWe) completed during Phase I and an additional 300 MWe constructed during Phase II. Emergency power will be provided by a diesel generator. Essential safety systems, (e.g., control and security systems) will be served by an uninterruptible power supply system with battery back-up. 

NextDecade, based in The Woodlands, Texas, is a development and management company of land-based and floating LNG projects creating innovative opportunities globally in the integrated natural gas industry around the world. NextDecade’s current focus includes its Pelican Island LNG project in Galveston, Texas, in addition to the Rio Grande LNG project in Brownsville, Texas.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.