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NextDecade Urges FERC to Act on Rio Grande LNG Approval
NextDecade Corp. has requested FERC respond to a court’s 18-month-old order to revisit the approval of Rio Grande LNG as it seeks to move the Texas export terminal project forward.
In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NextDecade CEO Matthew Schatzman urged Acting Chairman Willie Phillips to act on the remand issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2021 and place a response on the February agenda.
Schatzman wrote that FERC’s prior administration failed to act “in a reasonable timeframe” and further delays could have a “profound negative impact” on the company’s ability to serve European allies and finalize investments.
“This timeline far exceeds the length of time FERC has taken to respond to other federal appellate court remands of Commission-approved gas infrastructure projects, in some cases in much more complex proceedings,” Schatzman said in the letter.
FERC originally granted approval of Rio Grande LNG in 2019. The 2021 court decision also impacted the approval of the Texas LNG project proposed by a unit of Glenfarne Group LLC near Brownsville, TX. At the beginning of the month, NextDecade and Texas LNG submitted environmental modeling data to fulfill an information request from FERC.
In the letter, NextDecade said the current Commission should be able to quickly respond to the court’s questions, as the scope of the remand fell into two narrow categories. The court specifically asked FERC to address why it didn’t include an environmental justice analysis and a review of the cumulative impacts of carbon emissions created by the project.
The firm also noted a total of eight long-term sale and purchase agreements (SPAs) have been inked for offtake from Rio Grande, with most of the 11 million metric tons/year (mmty) of liquefied natural gas headed to European customers.
NextDecade said last month it was targeting a final investment decision for the first train of Rio Grande by the end of March. Shipbroker Poten & Partners said in a report last month that the company may be in talks with TotalEnergies SE to finalize a 4 mmty long-term SPA, which would cover around 86% of the project’s capacity.
The letter follows a series of regulatory and court wins for the project. In January, FERC sustained a decision to allow NextDecade until 2028 to complete the project. A court also sided with the company in a challenge against its water permits for the terminal and associated pipeline project.
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