Rio Grande LNG

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Brownsville is home to one of the most productive ports in Texas. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it is a gateway for international trade and shipping in and out of the country.

NextDecade is a global liquified natural gas (LNG) company helping transform the Port of Brownsville into one of the nation’s largest natural gas exporters. It operates in Texas through its subsidiaries: Rio Grande LNG (RGLNG) and NEXT Carbon Solutions.

The $18.4 billion project to build an LNG export facility and improvements at the Port of Brownsville will help the region meet the world’s demand for cleaner natural gas. Phase 1 of the project will feature three liquefaction trains. The liquefaction process increases the quantity of natural gas that can be shipped by reducing its volume, making LNG more economically profitable. The facility plans to also take advantage of NEXT Carbon Solutions’ carbon capture and storage technology to reduce the carbon footprint of NextDecade’s natural gas processes.

“We are developing a 27 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) LNG export facility at the Port of Brownsville along with one of the largest planned carbon capture and storage projects in North America. RGLNG will be the largest privately funded infrastructure project in Texas and will deliver enough energy to heat and cool the equivalent of nearly 34 million U.S. households annually,” said Susan Richardson, Senior Director of Communications for NextDecade.

“RGLNG is the first and only U.S. LNG project offering CO₂ emissions reduction of more than 90% via planned carbon capture and storage.”

The company also plans various improvements for the Port of Brownsville, benefiting all users and increasing its overall financial profitability.

“NextDecade is funding a significant portion of the Brazos Island Harbor improvement project that includes deepening the Brownsville Ship Channel from 42 to 52 feet, the development of two ship berths, and a turning basin for the RGLNG project,” she said.

The Port of Brownsville features a variety of factors that make it an advantageous location for NextDecade’s development and its future role as a powerhouse in LNG exportation.

“RGLNG is located in the Port of Brownsville, allowing us to capitalize on some of the largest, most economical natural gas reserves in the world – the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale. The Port of Brownsville is not as congested as some of the other Gulf Coast ports, and historically, the area has been hit by fewer hurricanes than the upper Gulf Coast. Additionally, there is a local workforce with a tremendous work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Richardson.

The reach of the port’s sewer and water lines will also be increased, making it more appealing to prospective tenants by eliminating the need for future infrastructure construction.

Investment in the port will benefit the local population, boosting the economy at all levels and providing vast employment opportunities that help increase the skill level of the workforce.

“Construction and operation of the facilities will involve significant economic benefits for the local area, state of Texas, and U. S. NextDecade’s investment in the Rio Grande Valley is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits through taxes, jobs (direct, indirect and induced), local procurement and community investments.”

“We are committed to hiring at least 35% of RGLNG’s employees locally. RGLNG is expected to create and sustain more than 5,000 construction jobs during the peak development period and 350-400 on-site jobs during operations,” said Richardson.

There is also an outstanding commitment to the safety and environmental protection of the port, local region, and the planet. Along with carbon capture, the facility plans to operate with net-zero electricity, significantly reducing environmental impact. The company is also leading conservation efforts in the region, preserving 1,500 acres of the Las Lomas preserve, restoring wetlands, expanding ocelot and jaguarundi habitats, and translocating Texas tortoises whose habitat is affected by development.

“The more than 4,000 acres included in NextDecade’s environmental mitigation plan are equivalent to more than five times the 761 acres of land directly impacted by the RGLNG export facility.”

Rafael Mendoza-Farias Jr.