Dredging & Marine Construction

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Receives Notice To Proceed On Largest Project To Date

NextDecade Corporation, a Houston-based energy company focused on sustainable LNG and carbon capture projects, has given Great Lakes Dredge & Dock (GLDD) the green light to proceed with work to improve the Brownsville Ship Channel in Brownsville, Texas, for the company’s forthcoming Rio Grande LNG liquefaction plant project.

The contract calls for Great Lakes to deepen Brazos Island Harbor from the channel entrance to the western boundary of the Rio Grande LNG project site, known as Phase 1 of the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project. NextDecade signed an agreement with the Port of Brownsville in 2019 to pay 100 percent of the costs associated with that phase. The project will deepen the channel from 42 to 52 feet. With the notice to proceed from NextDecade, GLDD plans to start on the project later this year.

“This exciting milestone project is the largest undertaken by Great Lakes in its 133-year history,” said Lasse Petterson, GLDD president and CEO. “We look forward to working with NextDecade and other stakeholders, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Brownsville, on this important improvement project that will benefit the navigation interests and allow for future development of the Port of Brownsville. Our proven performance and safety culture allow us to support the growth of LNG exports in the U.S., which is a necessity in balancing affordability for energy and overall sustainability.”

The notice to proceed (NTP) for Great Lakes follows NextDecade’s positive final investment decision (FID) for Phase 1 of the Rio Grande LNG project, announced July 12. In Phase 1, NextDecade will build the first three liquefaction trains for the project, which will allow the export of up to 27 million tons of LNG per year.

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According to NextDecade, Phase 1 of the Rio Grande LNG project will cost about $18.4 billion, which, according to the company, is the largest greenfield energy project financing in U.S. history. The company estimates using about $600 million for “dredging for the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project, conversion of more than 4,000 acres of wetland and wildlife habitat area and installation of utilities.”

“Achieving FID and issuing NTP on [Phase 1] is a landmark event reflecting years of hard work and dedication by NextDecade’s employees, shareholders, construction partners, equipment suppliers and customers,” said Matt Schatzman, NextDecade’s chairman and CEO. “I want to specifically recognize the Rio Grande Valley community, the Port of Brownsville and the countless leaders and officials at the local, state and federal levels that have supported us throughout the development of [Rio Grande LNG] Phase 1.”

According to NextDecade, the Rio Grande LNG project will be the first in the United States to include carbon capture and storage, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the facility by more than 90 percent. The project will capture and store more than 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, “equivalent to removing more than 1 million vehicles from the road annually,” according to NextDecade.

In March 2022, $68 million for Phase 2 of the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project was allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Eduardo Campirano, director and CEO of the Port of Brownsville, said construction of those two phases, along with the Rio Grande LNG project, will have far-reaching impacts on navigation and industry in the Brownsville region.

“The Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project is of monumental significance to the regional economy, strengthening the port as a critical player in the global supply chain,” Campirano said. “As cargo volumes continue on an upward trend, we are excited to boost the port’s capabilities supporting sustainable growth for the diverse industries we serve.”