Kathleen M. Eisbrenner, an oil and gas pioneer who founded and chaired NextDecade Corp., has died. She was 58.
Eisbrenner in 2010 founded NextDecade, headquartered north of Houston in The Woodlands, which is developing the 27 million metric ton/year Rio Grande liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Brownsville on the southern tip of Texas. NextDecade also is developing the associated 4.5 Bcf/d Rio Bravo Pipeline to transport gas from the Agua Dulce area near Corpus Christi to the export facility.
Eisbrenner led NextDecade to a listing on Nasdaq in 2017 and had served jointly as chair and CEO until February 2018. She remained chair until her death.
Widely viewed as one of the top global LNG industry executives, male or female, Eisbrenner formerly was executive vice president at Royal Dutch Shell plc, where she was responsible for managing the global LNG portfolio and LNG trading business.
Eisbrenner had previously founded and was CEO at Excelerate Energy, which focused on floating storage regasification unit vessels and technology. She also had held senior management positions at El Paso Corp., now part of Kinder Morgan Inc.
Eisbrenner was a keynote speaker in 2008 at NGI’s GasMart in Chicago, where as a Shell executive she discussed what was still in vogue: LNG imports, and a vision of the future.
Presciently, Eisbrenner said 11 years ago, “North American natural gas production will continue to grow at a rate that is not expected to keep up with demand. LNG potentially is a key component of filling the gap, but increasingly the U.S. will be competing for natural gas supplies with other big markets.
“And here in the U.S. we must realize that sellers will not be marketing their gas to the U.S. as a matter of course. We need to compete for it.”
Eisbrenner was an independent director of Exmar, a member of the American Bureau of Shipping, served on the fuel business expert advisory board of Japan’s Jera and worked with Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas. Additionally, Eisbrenner formerly was a board member of Chesapeake Energy Corp. and the National Petroleum Council.
Eisbrenner graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1982.
“It is with great sorrow that we announce the untimely passing of our friend and colleague,” NextDecade CEO Matthew K. Schatzman said. “Kathleen was a true energy industry pioneer. We at NextDecade are grateful for her foresight and leadership, without which we would not be where we are today.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to Kathleen’s devoted husband, Ray, and the Eisbrenner family. All of us at NextDecade are fortunate to have known and worked with Kathleen over the years, and remain firmly committed to the realization of her vision.”
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