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UPDATE 3-NextDecade delays Rio Grande LNG decision until second half

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(Adds comment from environmental group)

By Marcy de Luna

HOUSTON, Jan 3 (Reuters) - U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) developer NextDecade Corp said on Monday that a final investment decision for its Rio Grande LNG project would again be delayed, this time until the second half of the year.

The $15.7 billion project, which would produce 27 million metric tons per year at full capacity, has been twice delayed since 2020. It was originally expected to start producing LNG in 2023.

The company disclosed the latest delay in a presentation to investors on Monday. It did not give a reason.

“Pushing off their final investment decision by yet another year is only delaying the inevitable,” said Gabby Brown, a spokesperson for the Sierra Club environmental group. “We will continue to fight to ensure that this project is never built. NextDecade should accept reality and cancel this disastrous project once and for all.”

NextDecade did not respond for additional comment.

NextDecade has agreed to supply Royal Dutch Shell with 2 million metric tons per year of LNG over 20 years from the proposed facility near Brownsville, Texas.

The plant will have a minimum of two trains producing 11 million metric tons per year, the company said.

The project would include the capture and storage of more than 5 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide.

Several U.S. LNG projects have been delayed https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/lng-prices-surge-north-american-project-development-languishes-2021-11-08 as low prices from coronavirus-induced demand destruction caused buyers to back away from signing long-term supply contracts.

Analysts at consultants RBN Energy have said developers will probably go forward with three new LNG projects over the next year: Cheniere's Stage 3 expansion at Corpus Christi in Texas, Venture Global's Plaquemines in Louisiana and Tellurian Inc's Driftwood in Louisiana. (Reporting by Marcy de Luna in Houston Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Matthew Lewis)