Rio Grande LNG Project Overview
What is the Rio Grande LNG (RGLNG) project?
Rio Grande LNG is a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility.
Where will the facility be located?
The facility will be built on a 984-acre site optimally located in the Port of Brownsville, Texas, a deep water, industrial port with minimal existing vessel traffic. The location allows for deep water port access with supporting marine infrastructure, access to a skilled labor force and is in close proximity to abundant, low-cost gas resources.
Who is developing the RGLNG project?
The RGLNG project is being developed by NextDecade. NextDecade is an 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. NextDecade is headquartered in Houston, Texas and 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 facility?
The facility will be capable of producing 27 million tons per annum of LNG, with five LNG trains. The footprint is close to 984 acres and will include four x 180,000 m3 full-containment LNG storage tanks, with access to two marine jetties, a berth pocket, and turning basin. At full build out, Rio Grande LNG will be one of the largest planned infrastructure projects in Texas.
What will the facility produce?
Natural gas will be fed into the facility from pipelines, then will pass through six refrigeration units, or “trains,” which will super-cool (to -260 degrees Fahrenheit) the gas until it condenses and becomes liquefied natural gas (LNG). From specially designed, insulated storage tanks, the LNG will be loaded onto LNG vessels and exported to provide clean-burning natural gas to those that need it the most.
What is the overall timeline for the RGLNG 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 Rio Grande LNG and the associated Rio Bravo Pipeline
(which is now owned by Enbridge). On January 23, 2020, the FERC issued its final order denying rehearing requests on Rio Grande LNG and Rio Bravo Pipeline. NextDecade anticipates a final investment decision on the project in 2021 and to begin construction shortly thereafter. For the latest RGLNG project timeline, visit https://www.next-decade.com/rio-grande-lng/.
Where will the gas that you export from the facility come from?
The location of the project affords Rio Grande LNG the ability to tap into the abundant natural gas supply from the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale. Rio Grande LNG will provide producers a long-term baseload demand center and natural gas flow assurance while helping to eliminate unnecessary flaring.
Who is building the RGLNG project?
In May 2019, NextDecade signed two contracts with Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals for the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) of our Rio Grande LNG project. Bechtel
is a leading global LNG EPC contractor, responsible for constructing about 30 percent of the world’s LNG capacity, and has extensive experience developing LNG projects on the U.S. Gulf Coast. NextDecade is also using established, proven technologies from Air Products & Chemicals, Baker Hughes, and ABB.
What are some of the benefits of the RGLNG project?
In addition to bringing clean energy to countries around the world, the project has a number of short- and longer-term economic benefits for the Rio Grande Valley, including:
- Jobs – NextDecade expects to bring much needed, good paying jobs to the area (average of 2,950 construction workers over a 7- year construction period (peak of 5,225 workers). The facility would require approximately 270 permanent operations jobs.
- Economic impact – NextDecade expects Rio Grande LNG to contribute more than $35 billion to U.S. GDP during construction and more than $500 million annually once commercial operations commence, and to significantly increase the tax base.
What will you do to develop the workforce needed for this project?
The RGLNG project will bring much needed jobs to the Valley. We, and Bechtel, will be prioritizing local hiring, where possible, during construction and operations so that at least 35% of workers are regional residents. Note that “Regional residents” means those living within 100 miles of the project site for at least six months prior to being hired in their current position or those that were born in Cameron County. We plan to employ locally first, then regionally, then nationally to ensure that we have the construction professionals required to build this project within the regulations and our commitments to safety, environment, quality, and reliability.
What is Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)?
LNG is liquefied methane that has been cooled to an extremely cold temperature (-260° F/ -162.2° C). At standard atmospheric conditions, methane is a vapor, not to be confused with gasoline, which is a liquid, but when supercooled it condensed into a colorless, odorless liquid that looks just like water.
LNG is the same natural gas we use to fuel our homes. Just like traditional oil, LNG powers kitchen appliances, heating units, stoves, barbeques and laundry machines.
How are U.S. LNG facilities permitted?
U.S. LNG export projects undergo a rigorous, multiyear 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.
How is LNG shipped?
Specially designed ships are used to transport LNG to U.S. terminals. They have double hulls and are constructed of specialized materials that are capable of safely storing LNG at temperatures of -260° F/ -162.2° C.
How many LNG vessels will be transiting the 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 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?
The current speed limit for any vessel in the Brownsville Ship Channel is 8 knots. An LNG vessel will typically travel at a speed of 6-7 knots.
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 coming to 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 (they are also responsible for the safety of 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. That said, 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 the Rio Grande LNG terminal, a Waterway Suitability Assessment study was conducted and completed by NextDecade. The study, 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 study was submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard who were satisfied 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. That same regulation and rigor applies 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.