NextDecade Corp. took the global stage late Monday in announcing the first long-term supply deal from its proposed Rio Grande liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in South Texas.

At the 19th International Conference & Exhibition on Liquefied Natural Gas in Shanghai, Woodlands, TX-based NextDecade said under the mostly Brent crude oil-linked contract, its Rio Grande facility would supply a Royal Dutch Shell plc subsidiary with 2 million metric tons/year (mmty) of the super-chilled fuel for 20 years.

Shell NA LNG LLC plans to purchase the LNG on a free-on-board basis starting from the commercial operation date of the facility, which is currently expected in 2023. Three-quarters of the purchased volumes would be indexed to Brent, and the remaining volumes indexed to domestic U.S. gas indices, including Henry Hub. The contract comes with full destination flexibility.

“We are honored to have Shell as the first foundation customer of our Rio Grande LNG project,” NextDecade CEO Matt Schatzman said. “Shell is not only the largest portfolio LNG company in the world, Shell is also a recognized pioneer in the global LNG business.”

Shell was the first to sign a long-term sale and purchase agreement (SPA) from the United States indexed to Henry Hub in 2011, and so it is fitting they are the first to sign a long-term SPA from a U.S. project indexed to Brent, Schatzman said.

“LNG continues to be the fastest-growing gas supply source to 2035,” said Shell LNG Marketing & Trading’s Slavko Preocanin, vice president. “This agreement secures more volume for our portfolio in the 2020s and ensures we can meet the growing demand for secure, flexible and cleaner energy from our global customers.”

NextDecade expects to finalize additional commercial agreements, with a final investment decision (FID) on the first three trains (Phase 1) expected by the end of September.

Last month, company executives said offering a variety of pricing options is what customers find attractive. The company expects Brent-linked contracts to comprise “a major portion of first volumes” at its Gulf Coast project, although contracts are also being offered at pricing points that include Henry Hub, Agua Dulce and Waha.

Engineering, procurement and construction bids were due to the company by April 22, and a final environmental impact statement was also expected to be handed down by federal regulators later this month.

As envisioned, the export terminal would entail six liquefaction trains, each with a nominal capacity of 4.5 mmty (i.e., a long-term average of about 0.6 Bcf/d), four LNG tanks (each with a capacity of 180,000 cubic meters), two marine jetties for ocean-going LNG vessels (with capacities of 125,000-185,000 cubic meters), one turning basin, as well as four LNG and two natural gas liquids truck-loading bays.

NextDecade is developing a portfolio of LNG projects, including the complementary 4.5 Bcf/d Rio Bravo Pipeline that would transport supply from the Agua Dulce hub, also in South Texas near Corpus Christi, to the export project.

Meanwhile, construction has begun on another U.S. LNG export project that is moving forward with only a single contract. Qatar Petroleum (QP) said Tuesday Ocean LNG Ltd., a joint venture marketing company created by majority owner QP (70%) and ExxonMobil Corp. (30%), would be responsible for the offtake and marketing of all volumes produced and exported from the Golden Pass LNG export project in Sabine Pass, TX, which was sanctioned in February.

Golden Pass has a design capacity of about 16 mmty, or 2 Bcf/d. The project is to include three liquefaction trains, each with a capacity of 5.2 mmty, as well as associated utility systems, interconnections and an expansion of the facility’s storm protection levee system.

“The FID of Golden Pass LNG earlier this year underpins Ocean LNG’s marketing efforts to deliver U.S. LNG to customers across the globe, QP CEO Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi said. “This is a further testament of Qatar Petroleum’s position as a global LNG leader with a large portfolio capable of offering tailored LNG supply structures and commercial terms in an evolving global LNG environment.”

Golden Pass is part of ExxonMobil’s plans to invest more than $50 billion over the next five years to build and expand manufacturing facilities in the United States, including through its Growing the Gulf initiative, which could create about 45,000 jobs along the Gulf Coast.

A 20-year firm transportation agreement has also been sealed with Enable Midstream Partners LP, and pipeline capacity was secured with Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America LLC. Golden Pass agreed to be a 20-year cornerstone shipper for Enable’s proposed interstate gas system Gulf Run Pipeline, with a commitment of 1.1 Bcf/d. Gulf Run, launched last fall, is proposing to move up to 2.75 Bcf/d from northern Louisiana to the Gulf Coast to supply export projects. Enable expects a late 2022 in-service date.