Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2017
|Accounting Policies [Abstract]|
|Summary of Significant Accounting Policies||
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
Basis of Presentation
Our Consolidated Financial Statements have been prepared in accordance with GAAP. The Consolidated Financial Statements include the accounts of Cheniere Partners 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 did not have a material effect on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
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. Management evaluates its estimates and related assumptions regularly, including those related to the value of property, plant and equipment, derivative instruments, asset retirement obligations (“AROs”) and fair value measurements. Changes in facts and circumstances or additional information may result in revised estimates, and actual results may differ from these estimates.
Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants. Hierarchy Levels 1, 2 and 3 are terms for the priority of inputs to valuation approaches used to measure fair value. Hierarchy Level 1 inputs are quoted prices in active markets for identical assets or liabilities. Hierarchy Level 2 inputs are inputs other than quoted prices included within Level 1 that are directly or indirectly observable for the asset or liability. Hierarchy Level 3 inputs are inputs that are not observable in the market.
In determining fair value, we use observable market data when available, or models that incorporate observable market data. In addition to market information, we incorporate transaction-specific details that, in management’s judgment, market participants would take into account in measuring fair value. We maximize the use of observable inputs and minimize our use of unobservable inputs in arriving at fair value estimates.
Recurring fair-value measurements are performed for derivative instruments as disclosed in Note 8—Derivative Instruments. The carrying amount of cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, accounts receivable and accounts payable reported on the Consolidated Balance Sheets approximates fair value. The fair value of debt is the estimated amount we would have to pay to repurchase our debt in the open market, including any premium or discount attributable to the difference between the stated interest rate and market interest rate at each balance sheet date. Debt fair values, as disclosed in Note 11—Debt, are based on quoted market prices for identical instruments, if available, or based on valuations of similar debt instruments using observable or unobservable inputs. Non-financial assets and liabilities initially measured at fair value include intangible assets and AROs.
Fees received pursuant to SPAs are recognized as LNG revenues after substantial completion of the respective Train. Prior to substantial completion, sales generated during the commissioning phase are offset against the cost of construction for the respective Train, as the production and removal of LNG from storage is necessary to test the facility and bring the asset to the condition necessary for its intended use. LNG revenues are recognized when LNG is delivered to the customer, either at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal or at the customer’s LNG receiving terminal, based on the terms of the contract.
LNG regasification capacity reservation fees are recognized as regasification revenues over the term of the respective 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. Under each of these TUAs, SPLNG is entitled to retain 2% of LNG delivered for each customer’s account at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, which is recognized as revenue as SPLNG performs the services set forth in each customer’s TUA. We also recognize tug services fees, which were historically included in regasification revenues but are now included within other revenues on our Consolidated Statements of Operations, that are received by Sabine Pass Tug Services, LLC (“Tug Services”), a wholly owned subsidiary of SPLNG.
Cash and Cash Equivalents
We consider all highly liquid investments with an original maturity of three months or less to be cash equivalents.
Restricted cash consists of funds that are contractually restricted as to usage or withdrawal and have been presented separately from cash and cash equivalents on our Consolidated Balance Sheets.
Accounts receivable is reported net of allowances for doubtful accounts. Impaired receivables are specifically identified and evaluated for expected losses. The expected loss on impaired receivables is primarily determined based on the debtor’s ability to pay and the estimated value of any collateral. We did not recognize any bad debt expense related to accounts receivable during the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
LNG and natural gas inventory are recorded at the lower of weighted average cost and net realizable value. Materials and other inventory are recorded at the lower of cost and net realizable value and subsequently charged to expense when issued. During the year ended December 31, 2015, we recognized $18 million as operating and maintenance expense as a result of write-down for LNG inventory purchased to maintain the cryogenic readiness of the regasification facilities at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal. We did not recognize any operating and maintenance expense related to inventory write-downs during the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016.
Accounting for LNG Activities
Generally, we begin capitalizing the costs of our LNG terminals and related pipelines once the individual project meets the following criteria: (1) regulatory approval has been received, (2) financing for the project is available and (3) 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 other non-current 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 and related pipeline. Upon commencement of operations, capitalized interest, as a component of the total cost, is amortized over the estimated useful life of the asset.
Property, Plant and Equipment
Property, plant and equipment are recorded at cost. Expenditures for construction and commissioning activities, major renewals and betterments that extend the useful life of an asset are capitalized, while expenditures for maintenance and repairs (including those for planned major maintenance projects) to maintain property, plant and equipment in operating condition are generally expensed 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 other operating costs and expenses.
Management tests property, plant and equipment for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances have indicated that the carrying amount of property, plant and equipment might not be recoverable. Assets are grouped at the lowest level for which there are identifiable cash flows that are largely independent of the cash flows of other groups of assets for purposes of assessing recoverability. Recoverability generally is determined by comparing the carrying value of the asset to the expected undiscounted future cash flows of the asset. If the carrying value of the asset is not recoverable, the amount of impairment loss is measured as the excess, if any, of the carrying value of the asset over its estimated fair value. We did not record any impairments related to property, plant and equipment during the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.
Regulated Natural Gas Pipelines
The Creole Trail Pipeline is subject to the jurisdiction of the FERC in accordance with the Natural Gas Act of 1938 and the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978. The economic effects of regulation can result in a regulated company recording as assets those costs that have been or are expected to be approved for recovery from customers, or recording as liabilities those amounts that are expected to be required to be returned to customers, in a rate-setting process in a period different from the period in which the amounts would be recorded by an unregulated enterprise. Accordingly, we record assets and liabilities that result from the regulated rate-making process that may not be recorded under GAAP for non-regulated entities. We continually assess whether regulatory assets are probable of future recovery by considering factors such as applicable regulatory changes and recent rate orders applicable to other regulated entities. Based on this continual assessment, we believe the existing regulatory assets are probable of recovery. These regulatory assets and liabilities are primarily classified in our Consolidated Balance Sheets as other assets and other liabilities. We periodically evaluate their applicability under GAAP and consider factors such as regulatory changes and the effect of competition. If cost-based regulation ends or competition increases, we may have to reduce our asset balances to reflect a market basis less than cost and write off the associated regulatory assets and liabilities.
Items that may influence our assessment are:
Natural gas pipeline costs include amounts capitalized as an Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (“AFUDC”). The rates used in the calculation of AFUDC are determined in accordance with guidelines established by the FERC. AFUDC represents the cost of debt and equity funds used to finance our natural gas pipeline additions during construction. AFUDC is capitalized as a part of the cost of our natural gas pipelines. Under regulatory rate practices, we generally are permitted to recover AFUDC, and a fair return thereon, through our rate base after our natural gas pipelines are placed in service.
We use derivative instruments to hedge our exposure to cash flow variability from interest rate and commodity price risk. Derivative instruments are recorded at fair value and included in our Consolidated Balance Sheets as assets or liabilities depending on the derivative position and the expected timing of settlement, unless they satisfy criteria for and we elect the normal purchases and sales exception. When we have the contractual right and intend to net settle, derivative assets and liabilities are reported on a net basis.
Changes in the fair value of our derivative instruments are recorded in earnings, unless we elect to apply hedge accounting and meet specified criteria, including completing contemporaneous hedge documentation. We did not have any derivative instruments designated as cash flow hedges during the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015. See Note 8—Derivative Instruments for additional details about our derivative instruments.
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 interest rate derivative instruments are placed with investment grade financial institutions whom we believe are acceptable credit risks. Certain of 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 other current asset. 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.
SPL has entered into six fixed price SPAs with terms of at least 20 years with six unaffiliated third parties. SPL is dependent on the respective customers’ creditworthiness and their willingness to perform under their respective SPAs. See Note 16—Customer Concentration for additional details about our customer concentration.
SPLNG has entered into two long-term TUAs with unaffiliated third parties for regasification capacity at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal. SPLNG is dependent on the respective customers’ creditworthiness and their willingness to perform under their respective TUAs. SPLNG has mitigated this credit risk by securing TUAs for a significant portion of its regasification capacity with creditworthy third-party customers with a minimum Standard & Poor’s rating of A.
Our debt consists of current and long-term secured debt securities and credit facilities with banks and other lenders. Debt issuances are placed directly by us or through securities dealers or underwriters and are held by institutional and retail investors.
Debt is recorded on our Consolidated Balance Sheets at par value adjusted for unamortized discount or premium and net of unamortized debt issuance costs related to term notes. Discounts, premiums and debt issuance costs directly related to the issuance of debt are amortized over the life of the debt and are recorded in interest expense, net of capitalized interest using the effective interest method. Gains and losses on the extinguishment of debt are recorded in gains and losses on the extinguishment of debt on our Consolidated Statements of Operations.
Debt issuance costs consist primarily of arrangement fees, professional fees, legal fees and printing costs. These costs are recorded as a direct deduction from the debt liability unless incurred in connection with a line of credit arrangement, in which case they are presented as an asset on our Consolidated Balance Sheet. Debt issuance costs are amortized to interest expense or property, plant and equipment over the term of the related debt facility. Upon early retirement of debt or amendment to a debt agreement, certain fees are written off to loss on early extinguishment of debt.
Asset Retirement Obligations
We recognize 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 assessment of AROs is described below.
We have not recorded an ARO associated with the Sabine Pass 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 immaterial.
We have not recorded an ARO associated with the Creole Trail Pipeline. We believe that it is not feasible to predict when the natural gas transportation services provided by the Creole Trail Pipeline will no longer be utilized. In addition, our right-of-way agreements associated with the Creole Trail Pipeline have no stipulated termination dates. We intend to operate the Creole Trail Pipeline as long as supply and demand for natural gas exists in the United States and intend to maintain it regularly.
We are not subject to federal or state income taxes, as our partners are taxed individually on their allocable share of our taxable income. At December 31, 2017, the tax basis of our assets and liabilities was $3.1 billion less than the reported amounts of our assets and liabilities. See Note 12—Related Party Transactions for details about income taxes under our tax sharing agreements.
Our liquefaction and regasification operations at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal represent a single reportable segment. Our chief operating decision maker reviews the financial results of Cheniere Partners in total when evaluating financial performance and for purposes of allocating resources.
The entire disclosure for the basis of presentation and significant accounting policies concepts. Basis of presentation describes the underlying basis used to prepare the financial statements (for example, US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Other Comprehensive Basis of Accounting, IFRS). Accounting policies describe all significant accounting policies of the reporting entity.
Reference 1: http://www.xbrl.org/2003/role/presentationRef