Feature Illustration (above): Concept rendering of the Rio Grande LNG terminal at the Port of Brownsville. Courtesy: NextDecade Corp.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Brownsville (Cameron County) — A series of recent events have solidified plans to build three major LNG facilities at the Port of Brownsville–projects that will require thousands of construction workers to get them ready for operation by 2023 and 2024, respectively.
Houston-based NextDecade Corporation announced April 1 a 20-year sale and purchase agreement with Shell NA LNG LLC to supply 2 million tons annually of liquefied natural gas from its Rio Grande LNG export project.
Map of the Rio Grande LNG/Rio Bravo Pipeline. Courtesy: NextDecade Corp.
This came soon after a decision in early March by the Brownsville Navigation District to award Rio Grande LNG a 30-year lease for 984 acres of land along the north shore of the Brownsville Ship Channel.
The proposed $15 billion export terminal would be the largest of three LNG facilities being planned at the port by different investor groups. Rio Grande LNG will feature six liquefaction trains, each able to produce 4.5 million metric tons of LNG annually.
The facility will also have four 180,000 cubic meter full-containment LNG storage tanks, two marine jetties, berth pocket and turning basin.
The Rio Grande LNG port facility is relying on the successful construction of the Rio Bravo Pipeline, which will be built by another NextDecade Corp. holding, Rio Bravo Pipeline Company LLC.
The pipeline project is comprised of twin 42-inch pipelines that share rights of way along a 137.5-mile route from the Agua Dulce area in Kelberg and Jim Wells counties to Brownsville. The project includes three 180,000-horsepower compressor stations, six mainline valve sites with two valves per location, four metering sites housing a total of six meter stations, and other ancillary facilities.
The proposed port facility and the pipelines are expected to create more then 5,000 jobs. NextDecade claims this is the largest private infrastructure project in Texas.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued state-level air permits for Rio Grande LNG on Dec. 12, 2018. The final federal environmental impact statement is expected to be released this month and the federal authorization decisions is anticipated July 25, 2019.
An LNG transport ship. Courtesy: Texas LNG Brownsville.
On March 17, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed 2 train, 4 million ton per annum export facility by Texas LNG Brownsville LLC.
The impact statement is the final step in the environmental review process leading towards the June 13, 2019 Federal Authorization Decision Deadline and anticipated FERC approval.
Texas LNG CEO and co-founder Vivek Chandra, in a prepared statement, said the company was very pleased with the impact statement’s conclusions and the hard work done by all of the supporting federal agencies.
“Texas LNG Brownsville also appreciates the continued support of its technical and permitting partners, including Samsung Engineering, Braemar Technical Services, Environmental Resources Management, K&L Gates, Greenberg Traurig, Hunton Andrews Kurth, and Royston Rayzor. As we head towards Final Investment Decision, we look forward to substantive discussions with potential LNG customers to secure binding agreements over the next few months,” Chandra said.
Texas LNG Brownsville is an independent, Houston-based LNG export company. Its facility will be constructed on a 625-acre site located on the Port of Brownsville’s deepwater ship channel. The facility will enable the export of 4 million tons annually of LNG. The company expects to begin construction in early 2020 and being phase-one operations in 2023 or 2024.
Annova LNG LLC:
Annova LNG Brownsville is a subsidiary of Exelon Corp. In December 2018, the Army Corps of Engineers resumed the permitting process after a brief delay on its permit review. FERC issued its Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Dec. 14.
Upon release of the FERC report, Annova LNG Chief Executive Officer Omar Khayum said, “Annova LNG is pleased FERC has acknowledged our proactive appraoch towards minimizing and offsetting the project’s environmental impacts. Annova LNG is investing in electric motor-driven equipment to minimize air emissions, restoring former wetlands in the project vicinity to more than offset wetlands impacts, and actively contributing to efforts to protect the ocelot and other wildlife, including establishing a wildlife corridor on the project site.”
Annova plans to create a 185-acre environmental conservation corridor to avoid impacting more than 100 acres of wetlands. Their project will also restore and enhance over 250 acres of wetlands and shallow water habitat. A benefit of these efforts would be the restoration of tidal exchange and estuarine habitat lost when the Brownsville Ship Channel and State Highway 48 were constructed.
The facility itself will include two 160,000 cubic meter containment tanks, marine facilities and room for additional storage tanks, LNG docking berths and liquefaction trains.
Proposed site plan for the Annova LNG plant. Courtesy: Annova LNG.
Annova LNG should receive its final impact statement the second quarter of 2019. The $3 billion Annova LNG plan project would support an average of about 700 on-site jobs through the four-year construction period, and upon completion would employ about 165 permanent full-time workers to run the plant.
The construction phase is being organized in three stages and is estimated to begin the first quarter of 2020. The company estimated commercial operations could begin in 2024.