Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2012
|Accounting Policies [Abstract]|
|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies||
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
Basis of Presentation
Our Consolidated Financial Statements were prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America ("GAAP"). The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Cheniere Energy Partners, L.P. and its majority-owned subsidiaries. All significant intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation.
Certain reclassifications have been made to conform prior period information to the current presentation. The reclassifications had no effect on our overall consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
We consider all highly liquid investments with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash equivalents.
Accounting for LNG Activities
Generally, we begin capitalizing the costs of LNG terminal projects once the individual project meets the following criteria: (i) regulatory approval has been received, (ii) financing for the project is available and (iii) management has committed to commence construction. Prior to meeting these criteria, most of the costs associated with a project are expensed as incurred. These costs primarily include professional fees associated with front-end engineering and design work, costs of securing necessary regulatory approvals, and other preliminary investigation and development activities related to our LNG terminals and related pipelines.
Generally, costs that are capitalized prior to a project meeting the criteria otherwise necessary for capitalization include: land and lease option costs that are capitalized as property, plant and equipment and certain permits that are capitalized as intangible LNG assets. The costs of lease options are amortized over the life of the lease once obtained. If no lease is obtained, the costs are expensed.
We capitalize interest and other related debt costs during the construction period of our LNG terminal. Upon commencement of operations, capitalized interest, as a component of the total cost, will be amortized over the estimated useful life of the asset.
LNG regasification capacity reservation fees are recognized as revenue over the term of the respective terminal use agreements ("TUAs"). Advance capacity reservation fees are initially deferred and amortized over a 10-year period as a reduction of a customer's regasification capacity reservation fees payable under its TUA. The retained 2% of LNG delivered for each customer's account at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal is recognized as revenues as Sabine Pass LNG performs the services set forth in each customer's TUA.
We use derivative instruments from time to time to hedge the exposure to variability in expected future cash flows attributable to the future sale of our LNG inventory, to hedge the exposure to price risk attributable to future purchases of natural gas to be utilized as fuel to operate the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, and to hedge the exposure to volatility in a portion of the floating-rate interest payments under the Liquefaction Credit Facility. We do not offset the fair value amounts of our LNG inventory, fuel and interest rate derivatives, and collateral deposited for such contracts are not netted within the derivative fair value. We have disclosed certain information regarding these derivative positions, including the fair value of our derivative positions, in Note 8—"Financial Instruments" of our Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.
Accounting guidance for derivative instruments and hedging activities establishes accounting and reporting standards requiring that derivative instruments be recorded at fair value and included in the consolidated balance sheet as assets or liabilities. The accounting for changes in the fair value of a derivative instrument depends on the intended use of the derivative and the resulting designation, which is established at the inception of a derivative. We record changes in the fair value of our derivative positions based on the value for which the derivative instrument could be exchanged between willing parties. To date, all of our derivative positions fair value determinations have been made by management using quoted prices in active markets for similar assets or liabilities. The ultimate fair value of our derivative instruments is uncertain, and we believe that it is possible that a change in the estimated fair value will occur in the near future as commodity prices and interest rates change.
Changes in fair value of contracts that do not qualify as hedges or are not designated as hedges are recognized currently in earnings. Gains and losses in positions to hedge the cash flows attributable to the future sale of LNG inventory are classified as revenues on our Consolidated Statements of Operations. Gains or losses in the positions to mitigate the price risk from future purchases of natural gas to be utilized as fuel to operate the Sabine Pass LNG terminal are classified as derivative gain (loss) on our Consolidated Statements of Operations.
We have elected cash flow hedge accounting for derivatives that we use to hedge the exposure to volatility in floating-rate interest payments. Changes in fair value of derivative instruments designated as cash flow hedges, to the extent the hedge is effective, are recognized in accumulated other comprehensive loss on our Consolidated Balance Sheets. We reclassify gains and losses on the hedges from accumulated other comprehensive loss into interest expense in our Consolidated Statements of Operations as the hedged item is recognized. Any change in the fair value resulting from ineffectiveness is recognized immediately as derivative gain (loss) on our Consolidated Statements of Operations. We use regression analysis to determine whether we expect a derivative to be highly effective as a cash flow hedge prior to electing hedge accounting and also to determine whether all derivatives designated as cash flow hedges have been effective. We perform these effectiveness tests prior to designation for all new hedges and on a quarterly basis for all existing hedges. We calculate the actual amount of ineffectiveness on our cash flow hedges using the "dollar offset" method, which compares changes in the expected cash flows of the hedged transaction to changes in the value of expected cash flows from the hedge. We discontinue hedge accounting when our effectiveness tests indicate that a derivative is no longer highly effective as a hedge; when the derivative expires or is sold, terminated or exercised; when the hedged item matures, is sold or repaid; or when we determine that the occurrence of the hedged forecasted transaction is not probable. When we discontinue hedge accounting but continue to hold the derivative, we begin to apply mark-to-market accounting at that time.
Fair Value of Financial Instruments
The carrying amounts of cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash and cash equivalents, restricted certificates of deposit, accounts receivable, and accounts payable approximate fair value because of the short maturity of those instruments. We use available market data and valuation methodologies to estimate the fair value of debt.
Concentration of Credit Risk
Financial instruments that potentially subject us to a concentration of credit risk consist principally of cash and cash equivalents and restricted cash. We maintain cash balances at financial institutions, which may at times be in excess of federally insured levels. We have not incurred losses related to these balances to date.
The use of derivative instruments exposes us to counterparty credit risk, or the risk that a counterparty will be unable to meet its commitments. Our commodity derivative transactions are executed through over-the-counter contracts which are subject to nominal credit risk as these transactions are settled on a daily margin basis with investment grade financial institutions. Collateral deposited for such contracts is recorded as an other current asset and not netted within the derivative fair value. Our interest rate derivative instruments are placed with investment grade financial institutions whom we believe are acceptable credit risks. We monitor counterparty creditworthiness on an ongoing basis; however, we cannot predict sudden changes in counterparties’ creditworthiness. In addition, even if such changes are not sudden, we may be limited in our ability to mitigate an increase in counterparty credit risk. Should one of these counterparties not perform, we may not realize the benefit of some of our derivative instruments.
Sabine Pass LNG has entered into certain long-term TUAs with unaffiliated third parties for regasification capacity at our Sabine Pass LNG terminal. We are dependent on the respective counterparties’ creditworthiness and their willingness to perform under their respective TUAs. We have mitigated this credit risk by securing TUAs for a significant portion of our regasification capacity with creditworthy third-party customers with a minimum Standard & Poor’s rating of AA.
Property, Plant and Equipment
Property, plant and equipment are recorded at cost. Expenditures for construction activities, major renewals and betterments are capitalized, while expenditures for maintenance and repairs and general and administrative activities are charged to expense as incurred. Interest costs incurred on debt obtained for the construction of property, plant and equipment are capitalized as construction-in-process over the construction period or related debt term, whichever is shorter. We depreciate our property, plant and equipment using the straight-line depreciation method. Upon retirement or other disposition of property, plant and equipment, the cost and related accumulated depreciation are removed from the account, and the resulting gains or losses are recorded in operations.
Management reviews property, plant and equipment for impairment periodically and whenever events or changes in circumstances have indicated that the carrying amount of property, plant and equipment might not be recoverable. We have recorded no significant impairments related to property, plant and equipment for 2012, 2011 or 2010.
We are not subject to either federal or state income taxes, as the partners are taxed individually on their proportionate share of our earnings. At December 31, 2012, the tax basis of our assets and liabilities was $290.6 million less than the reported amounts of our assets and liabilities.
In November 2006, Sabine Pass LNG and Cheniere entered into a state tax sharing agreement. Under this agreement, Cheniere has agreed to prepare and file all state and local tax returns which Sabine Pass LNG and Cheniere are required to file on a combined basis and to timely pay the combined state and local tax liability. If Cheniere, in its sole discretion, demands payment, Sabine Pass LNG will pay to Cheniere an amount equal to the state and local tax that Sabine Pass LNG would be required to pay if Sabine Pass LNG's state and local tax liability were computed on a separate company basis. There have been no state and local taxes paid by Cheniere for which Cheniere could have demanded payment from Sabine Pass LNG under this agreement; therefore, Cheniere has not demanded any such payments from Sabine Pass LNG. The agreement is effective for tax returns due on or after January 1, 2008.
In August 2012, Sabine Pass Liquefaction and Cheniere entered into a state tax sharing agreement. Under this agreement, Cheniere has agreed to prepare and file all state and local tax returns which Sabine Pass Liquefaction and Cheniere are required to file on a combined basis and to timely pay the combined state and local tax liability. If Cheniere, in its sole discretion, demands payment, Sabine Pass Liquefaction will pay to Cheniere an amount equal to the state and local tax that Sabine Pass Liquefaction would be required to pay if Sabine Pass Liquefaction's state and local tax liability were computed on a separate company basis. There have been no state and local taxes paid by Cheniere for which Cheniere could have demanded payment from Sabine Pass Liquefaction under this agreement; therefore, Cheniere has not demanded any such payments from Sabine Pass Liquefaction. The agreement is effective for tax returns due on or after August 2012.
Use of Estimates
The preparation of consolidated financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make certain estimates and assumptions that affect the amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes. Actual results could differ from the estimates and assumptions used.
Estimates used in the assessment of impairment of our long-lived assets are the most significant of our estimates. There are numerous uncertainties inherent in estimating future cash flows of assets or business segments. The accuracy of any cash flow estimate is a function of judgment used in determining the amount of cash flows generated. As a result, cash flows may be different from the cash flows that we use to assess impairment of our assets. Management reviews its estimates of cash flows on an ongoing basis using historical experience and other factors, including the current economic and commodity price environment. Significant negative industry or economic trends, including a significant decline in the market price of our common units, reduced estimates of future cash flows for our business or disruptions to our business could lead to an impairment charge of our long-lived assets, including goodwill and other intangible assets. Our valuation methodology for assessing impairment requires management to make judgments and assumptions based on historical experience and to rely heavily on projections of future operating performance. Projections of future operating results and cash flows may vary significantly from results. In addition, if our analysis results in an impairment of our long-lived assets, we may be required to record a charge to earnings in our consolidated financial statements during a period in which such impairment is determined to exist, which may negatively impact our results of operations.
Other items subject to estimates and assumptions include asset retirement obligations, valuations of derivative instruments and collectability of accounts receivable and other assets.
As future events and their effects cannot be determined accurately, actual results could differ significantly from our estimates.
Debt Issuance Costs
Debt issuance costs consist primarily of arrangement fees, professional fees, legal fees and printing costs. These costs are capitalized and are being amortized to interest expense over the term of the related debt facility.
Asset Retirement Obligations
We recognize asset retirement obligations ("AROs") for legal obligations associated with the retirement of long-lived assets that result from the acquisition, construction, development and/or normal use of the asset and for conditional AROs in which the timing or method of settlement are conditional on a future event that may or may not be within our control. The fair value of a liability for an ARO is recognized in the period in which it is incurred, if a reasonable estimate of fair value can be made. The fair value of the liability is added to the carrying amount of the associated asset. This additional carrying amount is depreciated over the estimated useful life of the asset. Our recognition of asset retirement obligations is described below:
Currently, the Sabine Pass LNG terminal is our only constructed and operating LNG terminal. Based on the real property lease agreements at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, at the expiration of the term of the leases we are required to surrender the LNG terminal in good working order and repair, with normal wear and tear and casualty expected. Our property lease agreements at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal have terms of up to 90 years including renewal options. We have determined that the cost to surrender the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in good order and repair, with normal wear and tear and casualty expected, is zero. Therefore, we have not recorded an asset retirement obligation associated with the Sabine Pass LNG terminal.
Recent Accounting Standards Not Yet Adopted
We have also considered all other newly issued accounting guidance that is applicable to our operations and the preparation of our consolidated financial statements, including that which is not yet effective. We do not believe that any such guidance will have a material impact on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
The entire disclosure for all significant accounting policies of the reporting entity.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef