Management 2018-02-01T07:20:39+00:00

NextDecade Senior Leadership

Matthew Schatzman
Matthew SchatzmanPresident & CEO


Matt joined NextDecade in September 2017 with nearly 30 years’ experience in the energy industry, including in senior executive roles with BG Group and Dynegy.  Matt’s unique contributions to the transformative growth of BG Group’s global LNG business as well as his recognized expertise as a strategic thinker with a keen execution focus makes him uniquely suited to steer NextDecade through to its final investment decision. As President and CEO, Matt is responsible for advancing the core business priorities of NextDecade, building critical organizational infrastructure and driving commercial delivery as the Company evolves from the development phases of its Rio Grande LNG and Rio Bravo Pipeline projects and into construction and operations.

In addition to managing an international portfolio of LNG, shipping and commodity trading positions, Matt’s expertise extends to hedging, risk management and process improvement across a diverse portfolio of development and operating assets.

Matt graduated from Yale University with a BA in Political Science and has been an active member of several energy industry boards and associations.

MR. RENÉ VAN VLIET – Chief Operating Officer

René is responsible for developing midstream LNG solutions globally. René worked at Shell International for nearly 32 years and has been involved in LNG developments since 1992, when Shell started developing Guangdong LNG in China as a new market for LNG, followed by India and South America. He was involved in many of the LNG import developments in Asia, Europe, USA and South America.

Most recently his role at Shell was as VP Global LNG, Shell Gas & Power, where he was responsible for a global LNG project portfolio, ranging from business development to implementation, including Floating LNG, Regas and Small Scale LNG. His accountabilities included new markets development, commercial and technical assessment of Shell and 3rd party prospects across the value chain, and Joint Development and Joint Venture deals negotiation.

As the business sponsor for Shell Gas & Power’s R&D program, René was responsible for driving innovation and commercialization of new technology. In earlier roles, René was responsible for Business Development and project portfolio activities with NOC and IOC partners in Asia, including China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia Thailand and Indonesia. In the early part of his career, he was construction manager and project manager for a number of Shell’s refinery and gas projects.

He spent more than 16 years in Asia and the Middle East, and after retiring from Shell in 2011, René established his own LNG/Gas Consultancy to focus on LNG business development activities. René holds a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Technical University Eindhoven and is based in The Netherlands.

René van Vliet
René van VlietChief Operating Officer (COO)
Ben Atkins
Ben AtkinsChief Financial Officer (CFO)

MR. BEN ATKINS – Chief Financial Officer

Ben brings the company substantial financial experience, particularly within the energy sector where he has managed debt and equity investments in power and midstream project companies. Before joining NextDecade, Atkins served as Senior Vice President at GE Capital, where he spent 10 years.

Prior to his tenure at GE Capital, Atkins served New York and Boston financial services clients at McKinsey & Co and worked as a risk manager in State Street Corporation’s Securities Finance division. Atkins graduated as class valedictorian from the U.S. Naval Academy and proudly served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Force. He earned a Master of Arts degree from Oxford University. Atkins is a CFA® charterholder and a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Connecticut and Texas.

MR. ALFONSO PUGA – Chief Commercial Officer

Alfonso has spent more than 15 years in the natural gas and LNG industry, involved in a variety of commercial and trading roles. He began his career with Spanish utility Gas Natural, working in a variety of roles related to the commercialization of natural gas to the industrial market. Next, Alfonso worked as the Gas and LNG Procurement and Trading Manager in the start-up of Union Fenosa Gas, the third Spanish utility.

He managed a portfolio of 6 bcm of LNG, responsible for the long- and short-term sales and purchases from the Dammietta Egypt and Qalhat Oman projects. Alfonso then joined Essent Trading (today RWE) as head of LNG trading. In this role, he formed the trading desk by acquiring capacity in Gate terminal in the Netherlands and creating the commercial network to facilitate the trading of LNG. After the RWE acquisition of Essent Trading, Alfonso joined the investment bank Goldman Sachs, where he created the LNG trading desk within the commodities division. Goldman’s intention was to trade LNG by leveraging the natural gas positions in attractive markets.

Alfonso coordinated the LNG activities through three main commodity offices − New York, London and Singapore – and helped form the firm’s Dubai-based commodity office serving the Middle East. Just prior to joining NextDecade, Alfonso conducted an assignment in Petronas to lead LNG activities in the Atlantic basin. Alfonso holds a degree in Industrial Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and earned an Executive MBA from the IMD-Lausanne. He resides in Barcelona, Spain.

Alfonso Puga
Alfonso PugaChief Commercial Officer (CCO)
Krysta De Lima
Krysta De LimaGeneral Counsel

MS. KRYSTA DE LIMA – General Counsel

Krysta was appointed General Counsel in July 2015 and is responsible for all legal and contractual matters affecting NextDecade. A practicing transactional lawyer for more than 20 years, she also acts as legal advisor to the CEO and Board of Directors.

After eight years in private practice with Arthur Andersen, Krysta spent twelve years developing BG Group plc’s investments in liquefied natural gas. First acting as lead counsel on various aspects of the company’s upstream, midstream and downstream development projects, Krysta went on to serve as VP Legal, leading the legal team and advising on matters affecting BG Group’s investment in all four trains at Atlantic LNG, in Trinidad as well as its major producing and development assets in that country. Krysta was then appointed Chief of Staff, with direct responsibility for Government Relations, Contracts & Procurement and IT. Before joining NextDecade, Krysta spent two years as Senior Counsel with Bechtel’s Oil, Gas and Chemicals business unit based in Houston, advising on major engineering, procurement and construction transactions in the US and overseas.

Krysta is qualified to practice law in New York, France, England, the British Virgin Islands and Trinidad and Tobago.

MR. SHAUN DAVISON – Senior Vice President, Development & Regulatory Affairs

Shaun leads Commercial Project Development for North America, specifically the Gulf of Mexico. An entrepreneurial professional with more than 20 years in the energy industry, Shaun is a business development and infrastructure specialist with broad-based expertise in all aspects of the natural gas and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) industry. Shaun has extensive knowledge of the energy/natural gas value chain: pipelines, storage, US and global markets, natural gas liquids, LNG terminals and LNG shipping.

Shaun previously worked in the North American natural gas industry with Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) and Dominion Resources, focused in the Financial, Corporate Strategy and Business Development & Marketing groups. Specific focal areas included major natural gas pipeline and storage projects, financial reporting of natural gas liquids, the financial modeling and market analysis for projects, market research and major M&A positions, including Dominion’s purchase of Cove Point LNG import terminal.

Shaun joined the LNG midstream marine industry with Teekay Corporation and then Excelerate Energy, leading global project development for LNG regasification opportunities in Israel, Puerto Rico, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Indonesia, The Philippines, Mexico and South Africa. He also managed the strategic analysis of small-scale LNG opportunities in the Caribbean markets and the Baltic region, and originated floating liquefaction programs in the US Gulf of Mexico.

A native of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, Shaun graduated cum laude from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science & Economics, and from West Virginia University with a Master of Business Administration degree in 1994.  He lives in The Woodlands, Texas.

Shaun Davison
Shaun DavisonSenior Vice President, Development & Regulatory Affairs
Chris Migura
Chris MiguraDeputy General Counsel

MR. CHRIS MIGURA – Deputy General Counsel

Chris joined NextDecade as Deputy General Counsel in December 2017 to support the broad commercial objectives of NextDecade, most notably the negotiation of LNG sale and purchase agreements.

Chris brings over 15 years of legal experience to NextDecade.  After three years in private practice with Vinson & Elkins, LLP from 2000-2003, Chris spent 13 years in various legal positions at BG Group where he played a material role in many of BG Group’s LNG projects and most recently led a legal team responsible for all of BG Group’s assets in North America, including BG Group’s LNG export projects and onshore unconventional assets. Before jointing NextDecade, Chris spent a year as Assistant General Counsel at Occidental Petroleum, where he led a legal team responsible for supporting Occidental’s upstream oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin.

Chris holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, a law degree from the University of Houston, and is Board Certified in Oil, Gas & Mineral Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

MR. ERIC GARCIA – Chief Accounting Officer

Eric was previously an audit managing director with KPMG LLP, where he spent 15 years serving companies in the LNG, oil and gas, and power and utilities industries.  Eric received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. He is a Certified Public Accountant in Texas and New Mexico and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Eric Garcia
Eric GarciaChief Accounting Officer
Patrick Hughes
Patrick HughesVice President, Corporate Strategy

MR. PATRICK HUGHES – Vice President, Corporate Strategy

Patrick Hughes joined NextDecade as Vice President, Corporate Strategy, in September 2017. In this role, Patrick is responsible for corporate strategy and business development activities including acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures, and strategic partnerships. In addition, Patrick oversees Investor Relations for NextDecade.

Prior to joining NextDecade, Patrick was a Partner in the Investment Banking and Advisory (IBA) group at Height Securities, a Washington, D.C.-based broker-dealer. During his tenure at Height, Patrick focused exclusively on the energy and industrials sectors and he and his team were widely recognized as leading financial advisors in the global LNG marketplace.

While at Height, Patrick was an energy research analyst from January 2009 until March 2015, during which time he developed a significant LNG practice and, in that capacity, detailed knowledge and expertise across the competitive landscape of U.S. LNG projects. He led Height’s IBA group from April 2015 to September 2017.

Patrick was previously a senior associate in the energy and natural resources equity research group at FBR Capital Markets. Before entering the financial services industry, Patrick facilitated projects in Middle Eastern countries for a Washington-based strategic communications contractor, and served as a case manager for a business intelligence and corporate security firm. Patrick was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a B.A. in Political Economy and Mandarin Chinese from Georgetown University.

MR. KEVIN HYATT – Vice President Gas Supply and Transportation

Kevin joins NextDecade with over 30 years of energy and project development experience “from wellhead to burner tip” having held senior management roles with companies such as EnLink Midstream, Gavilon, Energy Transfer Partners, and Enron.

His experience has included financial analysis, natural gas supply and marketing, liquid and gas pipeline asset development, gas processing, electric power marketing, NGL marketing, oil supply origination, and mergers and acquisitions.

Kevin has an MBA in international finance from the University of Houston and BSBA from the University of Nebraska.  He was previously licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as a securities principal.

He resides in Dallas, TX, with his wife and they have 3 grown children and two granddaughters.    His hobbies include hunting, rebuilding early Detroit muscle cars, and riding his Harley.

Kevin Hyatt
Kevin HyattVice President, Gas Supply and Transportation
Raquel Couri
Raquel CouriVice President, Human Resources & Administration

MS. RAQUEL COURI – Vice President, Human Resources & Administration

As a strategic Human Resources leader with broad based skills and a track record of success in global organizational environments, Raquel is a key member of the NextDecade leadership team, leading not only the Human Resources function, but also managing the Facilities and IT departments.

Raquel is a senior HR executive with more than 15 years of international experience across industries, but with a focus on the energy sector. Raquel is responsible for resourcing the business on short-, mid- and long-term basis, ensuring NextDecade is a great employer of choice for top class professionals in the industry.

Prior to NextDecade, Raquel was the Head of HR for both BG’s Houston office and its global trading and shipping business in locations across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Before moving to Houston, Raquel led the HR function for the BG Group in Brazil in its upstream asset division, overseeing the function for other Latin American countries too.