Is Rio Grande LNG withholding information or lying to investors?
On June 21, 2019, an anonymous letter was submitted and published on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission website attempting to air out Next Decade's dirty laundry. In this letter, it specifically states that Next Decade's (Rio Grande LNG's parent company) senior management Matt Schatzman and Krysta De Lima directed employees to keep designs and plans for Rio Grand LNG from the public in any form or fashion because they were different than what was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). If FERC found out, it would require Next Decade to file a revised application for the changed plans. Because Next Decade couldn't afford the delay brought on by such a process, Next Decade management, according to the letter, has been actively and intentionally concealing information from FERC for several years.
What do we know about the differences between what Next Decade filed with FERC and what they are planning now? In a late May press release and in a June corporate presentation, Next Decade presented information documenting the production capacity of LNG for each of its liquefaction trains as 5.78 mtpa. This is a 22% increase from what Rio Grande filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of 4.5 mtpa for each liquefaction train. A higher mtpa in LNG production indicates a likelihood that different designs for the liquefaction trains are planned than what was submitted to FERC originally. More LNG, and export thereof, would result in more tanker traffic, increased impact on fishing boats, more ballast discharge, more air pollution, etc., thus requiring a revised application and additional environmental review.
In light of the information from Rio Grande LNG, Sierra Club filed a document with FERC on May 30, 2019, requesting a draft supplemental EIS. Rio Grande LNG's reply to FERC reaffirmed original plans and stating, in summary, that the Sierra Club is mistaken and as having false information (even though information acquired by the Sierra Club was attained from Next Decade documents). In that case, are they lying to their investors?
Rio Grande LNG is expecting federal authorization on July 25, 2019. However, delays in mitigation with the US Army Corps of Engineers and a Biological Opinion from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, a delay in the FERC authorization decision is likely, not withstanding FERC's handling of the new information brought forth by the Sierra Club.