LNG signs pipeline agreement

NextDecade Corporation and Enbridge Inc. have signed a “definitive agreement” for Enbridge to buy NextDecade’s Rio Bravo Pipeline Company.

Enbridge would acquire 100% of the pipeline company, according to the agreement, though the deal depends on NextDecade reaching a “positive final investment decision” and moving forward with construction of its proposed Rio Grande LNG export terminal at the Port of Brownsville.

The Rio Grande LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility is one of three proposed for the port and awaiting final investment decisions. The three companies, which also include Annova LNG and Texas LNG, received permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in November to proceed with the projects.

Enbridge built the $1.5 billion Valley Crossing Pipeline, which was completed in 2018 and carries natural gas to Mexico from the Agua Dulce hub in Nueces County. Under the terms of the deal with NextDecade, Enbridge would assume all responsibility for developing, financing, building and operating the Rio Bravo Pipeline.

The pipeline would be able to transport up to 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to Rio Grande LNG, where the gas would be liquefied and shipped to foreign customers on LNG carrier vessels. On Jan. 23, FERC issued a final order rejecting rehearing requests for Rio Bravo Pipeline and Rio Grande LNG.

Annova, Rio Grande and Texas LNG have received approval from the Department of Energy to export LNG to countries with which the United States has free trade agreements as well as to non-FTA countries, something long sought after by LNG companies.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit against the Brownsville Navigation District by the City of Port Isabel, its mayor and a Port Isabel city commission over LNG facility development at the port has been removed to federal court from Cameron County 445th District Court, where it was filed.

The suit requests a preliminary injunction followed by a permanent injunction against construction and operation of LNG plants at the port, alleging that such activity “shall have a detrimental and negative impact upon the environment, including air, soil and water quality” for residents of Port Isabel and wildlife in and around Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

BND filed on Feb. 7 for removal of the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division.