Latest collaborative agreement brings Texas LNG export facility one step closer to reality

NextDecade enters a deal with two major investors to move toward final investment decision for the Rio Grande LNG Project. Image via Shutterstock.

The Rio Grande LNG Project (RGLNG), an LNG export facility in Cameron County, Texas with planned capacity for exporting up to 27 million tons of LNG per year, makes a giant leap toward the final investment decision stage with the latest agreements signed by NextDecade Energy announced earlier today.

Entry to this next phase includes executing investor agreements with Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and TotalEnergies (TTE). In addition, TTE commits to purchasing 5.4 million tons of LNG annually for the next 20 years from the first three trains (RGLNG Phase 1) that will transport to the facility, with additional options to purchase from subsequent trains.

“This announcement marks a momentous milestone for NextDecade,” said Matt Schatzman, chairman and CEO of NextDecade, in the release. “We are excited to work with GIP and TotalEnergies on RGLNG and our proposed CCS project at RGLNG. We are also eager to grow our partnership with GIP and TotalEnergies focusing on our shared vision to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector.”

“With the world increasingly moving toward sustainable solutions, this partnership among GIP, TotalEnergies and NextDecade reinforces our shared commitment to helping lead the transition and shaping of the future of energy,” added Bayo Ogunlesi, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Global Infrastructure Partners. “This venture marks a critical step in displacing coal usage and upholds GIP’s commitment to promoting decarbonization, energy security and energy affordability. Our shared vision with TotalEnergies and NextDecade, combined with our capabilities, will undoubtedly help catalyze the development of cleaner energy.”

"We are delighted to join forces with NextDecade and GIP on the development of this new US LNG project, for which TotalEnergies shall leverage its extensive experience in LNG and technical expertise in major industrial project development," commented Patrick Pouyanné, chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies. “Our involvement in this project will enhance our LNG capacity by 5.4 MTPA strengthening our ability to ensure Europe's gas supply security and to provide Asian customers with an alternative fuel that emits half as much as coal.”

Pending execution of the FID and definitive documentation, GIP becomes the majority investor in Phase 1 of the RGLNG, and TTE will acquire another 16.67%. Both companies will also have options to invest in Trains 4 and 5 servicing the South Texas LNG export facility and options to invest in future carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) efforts planned for RGNLG.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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