Meet the NextDecade Team

/Our Team
Our Team 2017-09-25T19:48:30+00:00

NextDecade is a specially selected team of LNG experts engaged to execute technical, commercial, and financial development efforts. Find out more about our senior management team and key staff below.

NextDecade Senior Management

Kathleen Eisbrenner
Kathleen EisbrennerFounder, Chairman & CEO

MS. KATHLEEN EISBRENNER – Founder, Chairman & CEO

Kathleen is the founder, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NextDecade Corporation, a company positioned to create forward-thinking opportunities in the United States and international integrated natural gas industry. NextDecade has assembled a team of industry-leading partners to develop land-based LNG projects around the world. Currently, our focus is on our proposed Rio Grande LNG project in Brownsville, Texas.

Kathleen previously served as Executive Vice President at Royal Dutch Shell, responsible for Shell’s Global LNG strategy and was the CEO and Founder of Excelerate Energy, a proven industry leader, LNG importer and marketer. A member of the US National Petroleum Council and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), she formerly served as a board member of Chesapeake Energy Corporation. Kathleen is passionate about mentoring and inspiring students, often presenting to universities and colleges, as well as serving as a board member and laureate for the Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas.

Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and currently resides in Texas.

MR. MATTHEW SCHATZMAN – President

Matt joins NextDecade 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. Acting in concert with the CEO and other members of senior management, 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.

Matthew Schatzman
Matthew SchatzmanPresident
René van Vliet
René van VlietChief Operating Officer (COO)

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.

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.

Ben Atkins
Ben AtkinsChief Financial Officer (CFO)
Alfonso Puga
Alfonso PugaChief Commercial Officer (CCO)

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.

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.

Krysta De Lima
Krysta De LimaGeneral Counsel
Shaun Davison
Shaun DavisonSenior Vice President, Development & Regulatory Affairs

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.

MR. STUART EDWARDS – Director, LNG Sales & Trading

Stuart has been a professional in the natural gas industry for more than 30 years. Although he began his career in the UK downstream sector as an engineer, in the early 1990’s his focus shifted away from technical engineering and towards the financial and marketing side of the business, specializing in international gas transactions and LNG-related commercial activities. Since then, Stuart has gained significant experience in the global natural gas industry, working in countries across Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Stuart has worked at a senior level for large and small organizations including BG Group, Petronas, Excelerate Energy, 4Gas and most recently LNG Contracts International. With over 20 years of experience in the LNG industry, Stuart has been involved in every aspect of the commercial landscape, including: LNG trading, negotiation of large, long-term Sales and Purchase Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, FSRU development and charters, FLNG schemes, import and export facility development, and business origination, among others.

At NextDecade, Stuart applies his considerable experience and expertise to the development of its LNG trading and commercialization efforts.

Stuart Edwards
Stuart EdwardsDirector, LNG Sales & Trading
Eric Garcia
Eric GarciaChief Accounting Officer

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.

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.

Patrick Hughes
Patrick HughesVice President, Corporate Strategy

Key Staff

Stephan Huisman
Stephan HuismanTechnical Director

MR. STEPHAN HUISMAN – Technical Director

Stephan is responsible for the technical development of NextDecade projects, including the Pre-FEED and FEED stages up through Final Investment Decision (FID).

Throughout his career, Stephan has been involved in all technical areas relating to the development and operation of LNG terminals, from screening, feasibility studies and Pre-FEED activities to construction, commissioning and operations and maintenance.

Stephan began his career with Shell International, where he worked for more than 19 years throughout various parts of the Refining, Offshore Floating facilities and Gas/LNG business. He has lived, worked and traveled in the Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Greece, Japan and many other countries. In addition, he was involved in the detailed design phase for the first two trains of the Woodside LNG Complex and later in the FEED development of the MLNG Tiga project for Petronas.

After leaving Shell, Stephan completed work from FEED to Start-up and Operations on Transgas Atlantico’s LNG Terminal in Sines, Portugal, and then moved to BG where he served as Project Manager of the Dragon LNG terminal, developing FEED and EPC contracts.

Most recently, Stephan worked for nine years as Director – LNG Technology at Royal Vopak. At Vopak he was responsible for all technical and project management aspects of new LNG terminals under development around the globe. In addition, he was in charge of monitoring operations and maintenance of existing terminals where Vopak participates, including The Netherlands and Mexico as well as project developments in France, Sweden, Estonia, and Malaysia among others.

Stephan holds a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Technical University Delft.

MR. JEE YOON – Manager of Business Development

Jee previously worked as Legal Counsel for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering’s (DSME) new business development division focused on its LNG midstream business development activities. In addition, Jee has served as Legal Lead for Pangea LNG advising on Floating LNG projects in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Gulf of Mexico and Mozambique.

Jee has extensive experience in dealing with corporate law matters spreading across various jurisdictions including the US, the Netherlands, Norway and Korea. Further, Jee has advised on a wide range of agreements involved in the development of LNG projects including negotiations on gas purchase agreements, LNG sales agreements, EPC contracts and O&M agreements.

Jee is qualified to practice as a lawyer in the state of New South Wales, Australia and holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Technology, Sydney. Prior to becoming an attorney, Jee worked as a business analyst in the pharmaceutical and retail industries.

Jee Yoon
Jee YoonManager of Business Development
James Markham-Hill
James Markham-HillManager of Communications

MR. JAMES MARKHAM-HILL – Manager of Communications

James is responsible for creating, managing and implementing all NextDecade communication strategies as well as serving as the liaison between NextDecade and the media. James has considerable experience working directly with the public, the media, as well as corporate and government leadership.

James has lived, worked and studied in countries across the globe, including the U.K., Australia, France, the U.S., Hong Kong and China. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, James studied Advertising, Business and Mandarin Chinese in Austin and at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Frequent moves and a love of travel have fed a passion for language as well as an appreciation and understanding of different cultures.

Prior to joining NextDecade, James worked in a number of different roles in radio, television and film, as well as in project finance, specializing in technology. James holds a B.S. in Advertising, a B.A. in Chinese Language and Culture, and a McCombs School of Business Certificate with Highest Distinction from the University of Texas at Austin and currently resides in The Woodlands, Texas.

MR. JAMES SPENCER – Senior Legal Counsel

James serves as Senior Legal Counsel and is responsible for various legal and contractual matters including real estate, intellectual property, liability prevention, and sales agreements.  Over the course of his career James has represented clients in a wide variety of energy and commercial law transactions with an emphasis on project development, infrastructure, acquisitions, financing, and liability analysis and prevention. His experience includes representing clients in both domestic and international matters and in such diverse locations as South East Asia, Northern and Western Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Western Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas.

As an attorney with a chemical engineering background, James possesses broad energy industry experience and a technical understanding of energy projects which enhances his ability to provide advice and counsel to NextDecade. James’ industry experience includes work as a Project Engineer for an oil and gas services company in Singapore and as an Energy Infrastructure Policy Analyst for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington D.C.

Prior to joining NextDecade, James served as Of Counsel with Cogan & Partners LLP, an energy law boutique firm in downtown Houston. Before his term as Of Counsel, James was an attorney at the international law firms of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP where he represented clients in corporate energy transactions, regulatory compliance and commercial litigation.

James Spencer
James SpencerSenior Legal Counsel