Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the Rio Grande LNG project.
Rio Grande LNG Project Overview
What is the Rio Grande LNG project?
Where will the Rio Grande LNG project be located?
The Rio Grande LNG project will be constructed on a 984-acre site at the Port of Brownsville, Texas, an industrial port with limited existing vessel traffic. The location provides access to deepwater marine infrastructure, a skilled labor force, and abundant, low-cost natural gas resources from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale.
Who is developing the Rio Grande LNG project?
The Rio Grande LNG project is being developed by NextDecade Corporation, a Houston-based LNG development company focused on LNG export projects in Texas. NextDecade’s management team has significant experience developing, financing, constructing, and operating projects around the world. The company’s common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol “NEXT.” For more information, visit www.next-decade.com.
What is the size of the Rio Grande LNG project?
The Rio Grande LNG project is one of the largest planned infrastructure projects in the State of Texas. At full scale, the facility will be capable of producing 27 million metric tonnes of LNG per annum, and will include five LNG trains, four 180,000 m3 full-containment LNG storage tanks, and associated marine infrastructure.
What will the Rio Grande LNG project produce?
The Rio Grande LNG project will produce LNG for export to markets around the world. Feedstock gas will be supplied into the facility by the Rio Bravo Pipeline that originates in the Agua Dulce area. Rio Bravo Pipeline is being developed by Enbridge.
What is the overall timeline for the Rio Grande LNG project?
NextDecade achieved a significant regulatory milestone in November 2019, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order authorizing the siting, construction, and operation of the Rio Grande LNG project and the associated Rio Bravo Pipeline (which is owned, and will be developed, by Enbridge). NextDecade anticipates a final investment decision on the project in 2021 and plans to commence construction shortly thereafter. For the latest Rio Grande LNG project timeline, visit https://www.next-decade.com/rio-grande-lng/.
Where will the gas that you export from the Rio Grande LNG project come from?
Who is the main construction contractor building the Rio Grande LNG project?
Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals is the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the Rio Grande LNG project. Bechtel is a leading global LNG EPC contractor, responsible for constructing about 30 percent of the world’s LNG capacity, including nine LNG trains on the U.S. Gulf Coast. NextDecade is also using established, proven technologies from Air Products, BakerHughes, and ABB.
What are some of the benefits of the Rio Grande LNG project?
In addition to providing the world access to cleaner energy, the Rio Grande LNG project is expected to provide direct and indirect economic benefits to communities in the Rio Grande Valley, including thousands of construction and operations jobs. We expect the Rio Grande LNG facility to contribute more than $35 billion to U.S. GDP during construction and more than $500 million annually once commercial operations commence.
To offset impacts to wetlands and wildlife, NextDecade has agreed to purchase approximately 3,000 acres for mitigation in perpetuity, including preservation of the Loma Ecological Preserve. Further, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), NextDecade has developed voluntary conservation measures for the ocelot and Gulf Coast jaguarundi.
NextDecade has also committed to maximizing local hiring, enhancing youth education, promoting safe work environments, and supporting improvements to the Brownsville Ship Channel. Learn more: https://www.riograndelng.com/community-commitments/.
What is Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)?
LNG is liquefied natural gas (methane) that has been cooled to -260° F (-162.2° C). LNG is an odorless, non-flammable, and non-toxic liquid, which is stored and shipped at just above atmospheric pressure
How are U.S. LNG facilities permitted?
U.S. LNG export projects undergo a rigorous, multi-year review and permitting process overseen by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and more than a dozen federal, state, and local agencies, ensuring safe, responsible, and environmentally sound economic development. Throughout the construction and operations phases of the Rio Grande LNG project, NextDecade will operate in strict compliance with federal and state regulations that govern our business.
How is LNG shipped?
Specially designed ships are used to transport LNG around the world. They have double hulls and are constructed of specialized materials that are capable of storing LNG at required temperatures. LNG is transported at just above atmospheric pressure and has been shipped safely around the world for more than 60 years.
How many LNG vessels will be transiting the Brownsville Ship channel?
The construction of the entire Rio Grande LNG terminal will occur over a number of years. Two LNG vessels per week are expected to arrive at the Rio Grande LNG terminal once it begins operations.
What is the size of an LNG vessel?
An LNG vessel is roughly the same length as a typical tanker vessel. The beam of a typical LNG vessel is 150 feet. The draft is 39 feet.
What is the typical speed of LNG vessels in the Brownsville Ship Channel?
What protocols will LNG vessels follow in the Brownsville Ship Channel?
All ship traffic, including LNG vessels, are required to follow strict procedures, or “rules of the road,” established internationally and overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
The current practice for all MV Class vessels in the Brownsville Ship Channel is that, under Pilot order, tugs assist them to safely navigate the Channel. LNG vessels arriving at NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG terminal will be treated exactly the same but will have dedicated tugs. Certified pilots from the local Brazos Santiago Pilots will assist in guiding LNG vessels to the berth. Although three tugs are required to maneuver LNG vessels, NextDecade will permanently contract four tugs to ensure redundancy.
The Brazos Santiago Pilots, as well as two tug captains, participated in LNG vessel simulations at the Marine Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies to get virtual experience in safely piloting LNG vessels to NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG terminal. We will continue to use this simulator in the future to train Pilots and tug captains.
Will there be a buffer or exclusion zone around LNG vessels while in the Brownsville Ship Channel?
Currently, U.S. Coast Guard Corpus Christi, which is also responsible for the safety and security of the Brownsville Ship Channel, does not have a requirement for an exclusion zone in the Brownsville Ship Channel, both while the ship is in transit and while at the berth. All vessels in the Brownsville Ship Channel are required to follow strict procedures, or “rules of the road,” established internationally and overseen locally by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
How will other vessel traffic in the Brownsville Ship Channel transit the channel?
Deep draft ship traffic – There will be no changes to the existing practice, which is that no two-way traffic is allowed for MV Class vessels in the Brownsville Ship Channel. Therefore, when an LNG vessel is in the Brownsville Ship Channel, deep draft traffic (vessels requiring the depth of the dredged channel) will be restricted to whichever direction that vessel is traveling. The same rule applies to the LNG vessel if another MV Class vessel is already in the Brownsville Ship Channel.
Shallower draft ship traffic – Vessels with a shallower draft may, at the Pilot’s discretion, pass in either direction as long as they do not interfere with the safe navigation of the LNG vessel.
How is the safety of the public near the channel addressed?
The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the safety and security of all aspects of LNG vessel movement. During the permitting period for NextDecade’s Rio Grande LNG project, a Waterway Suitability Assessment (WSA) was completed. The WSA, which followed strict federal guidelines, assessed both the practical and safety aspects of an LNG vessel using the Channel and loading at the terminal. The WSA was submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard, which concurred with the WSA and confirmed that LNG vessels can operate safely in the Channel.
Will water quality in the Brownsville Ship Channel be impacted by LNG vessel activity at the Rio Grande LNG terminal?
The handling of ballast water (water that balances a cargo vessel during loading and unloading) on all ships is highly regulated. The same regulations apply to handling of ballast water on LNG vessels. Given the relatively small volume of water discharged by LNG vessels when loading at the Rio Grande LNG terminal compared to the total water within the Brownsville Ship Channel, and the very limited temperature difference between that water and the ambient water temperature in the Channel, any impacts on water temperature in the Channel during the LNG loading process will be temporary and extremely minor.
Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project
How deep is the Brownsville Ship Channel?
The Brownsville Ship Channel’s current depth is 42 feet. In 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommended that the Brownsville Ship Channel be authorized for deepening to 52 feet.
What is the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement project?
In 2016, the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) received Congressional authorization for the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project. The BND serves as the non-federal sponsor of the project. The Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project includes the deepening of the channel to 52 feet.
What is NextDecade’s role in the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement project?
In 2019, NextDecade agreed to privately fund a significant portion of the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project, which will include deepening from the outer jetties to the western end of the Rio Grande LNG property, as well as the development of two ship berths and a turning basin for the Rio Grande LNG facility. NextDecade will also fund the widening of the Channel bend near the entrance of the Brownsville Ship Channel to improve navigational safety. These improvements will benefit existing Port of Brownsville tenants and enhance future development of the Port.