Rendering of Rio Grande LNG; Source: NextDecade

Rio Grande LNG deals enable ADNOC to spread its low-carbon energy wings in US

The UAE’s oil and gas heavyweight, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), has sealed agreements for liquefied natural gas (LNG) offtake and an equity position in the Rio Grande LNG (RGLNG) export project located in Texas, United States (U.S.). This is perceived as the UAE player’s first strategic investment foray in the U.S., which complements its efforts to expand its lower-carbon LNG portfolio to meet growing gas demand.

Rendering of Rio Grande LNG; Source: NextDecade

Thanks to an investment vehicle of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), ADNOC has acquired an 11.7% stake in Phase 1, encompassing Trains 1-3, of NextDecade Corporation’s Rio Grande LNG, which is expected to produce a less carbon-intensive LNG. While ADNOC got a portion of GIP’s existing equity interest in Phase 1, NextDecade retains its previously announced expected economic interest not only in Phase 1 but also its interests in the Train 4 and Train 5 expansion capacity.

Aside from expanding its LNG portfolio, the UAE giant has entered into a 20-year LNG offtake agreement from RGLNG Train 4 with NextDecade for 1.9 million tons per annum (mtpa) on a free-on-board (FOB) basis at a price indexed to Henry Hub, subject to a final investment decision (FID).

Musabbeh Al Kaabi, ADNOC’s Executive Director for Low Carbon Solutions and International Growth, commented: “We are delighted to partner with NextDecade on this world-class lower-carbon LNG project as it marks a significant milestone in ADNOC’s international growth strategy and provides us access to one of the world’s top LNG export markets.

“As global energy demand continues to increase, ADNOC is growing our diversified energy portfolio to ensure a secure, reliable and responsible supply of energy to our customers while driving innovation and greater value.”

Situated on a 984-acre site near Brownsville, Texas, Rio Grande LNG is described as the first U.S. LNG project offering an expected emissions reduction of more than 90% through its proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) project, which is anticipated to capture and permanently store more than 5 million metric tons per annum of carbon dioxide (CO2) – equivalent to removing 1 million vehicles from the road annually.

Matt Schatzman, NextDecade’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, remarked: “We are excited to begin a multi-decade partnership with ADNOC, a major player in the global LNG market, and we look forward to having them as both a commercial offtaker and an equity partner in Rio Grande LNG. LNG from our facility will allow ADNOC to further increase its presence in the global LNG market, while also supplying global customers with more affordable and less carbon-intensive LNG.”

At the start of the year, NextDecade made a credit arrangement with MUFG Bank for development costs related to Train 4 at the Rio Grande LNG facility in Texas. This follows the FID that was reached in July 2023 for Phase 1.

The construction officially started in October 2023. ADNOC explains that its acquisition of an equity stake in Phase 1 of Rio Grande LNG also secures the option from GIP for equity participation in the future Trains 4 and 5 of the project. 

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NextDecade is targeting FID on Train 4 at the Rio Grande LNG facility in the second half of 2024, subject to, among other things, finalizing and entering into an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract, appropriate commercial arrangements, and obtaining adequate financing to construct Train 4 and related infrastructure.

Currently, ADNOC is progressing with the development of the Ruwais LNG project in Al Ruwais Industrial City, Abu Dhabi. Recently, the UAE player secured a third long-term LNG supply agreement for the project, thanks to a deal with EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg (EnBW) for the delivery of 0.6 million mtpa of LNG.