Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
|12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2021
|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 CQP and its majority owned subsidiaries. All intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated in consolidation. When necessary, reclassifications that are not material to our Consolidated Financial Statements are made to prior period financial information to conform to the current year presentation.
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 fair value measurements of derivatives and other instruments, useful lives of property, plant and equipment, certain valuations including leases and asset retirement obligations (“AROs”) as further discussed under the respective sections within this note. Changes in facts and circumstances or additional information may result in revised estimates, and actual results may differ from these estimates.
Fair Value Measurements
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 that are directly or indirectly observable for the asset or liability, other than quoted prices included within Level 1. 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 and cash equivalents, 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.
We recognize revenues when we transfer control of promised goods or services to our customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services. See Note 13—Revenues from Contracts with Customers for further discussion of our revenue streams and accounting policies related to revenue recognition.
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 and Cash Equivalents
Restricted cash and cash equivalents consist of funds that are contractually or legally restricted as to usage or withdrawal and have been presented separately from cash and cash equivalents on our Consolidated Balance Sheets.
Accounts and Other Receivables
Accounts and other receivables are reported net of any current expected credit losses. Current expected credit losses consider the risk of loss based on past events, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts. A counterparty’s ability to pay is assessed through a credit review process that considers payment terms, the counterparty’s established credit rating or our assessment of the counterparty’s credit worthiness, contract terms, payment status, and other risks or available financial assurances. Adjustments to current expected credit losses are recorded in general and administrative expense in our Consolidated Statements of Income. As of both December 31, 2021 and 2020, we had current expected credit losses on our accounts and other receivables of $5 million.
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. Inventory is charged to expense when sold, or capitalized to property, plant and equipment when issued, primarily using the weighted average method.
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.
Generally, we begin capitalizing the costs of our LNG terminal 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 preliminary front-end engineering and design work, costs of securing necessary regulatory approvals and other preliminary investigation and development activities related to our LNG terminal.
Generally, costs that are capitalized prior to a project meeting the criteria otherwise necessary for capitalization include: land acquisition costs, detailed engineering design work and certain permits that are capitalized as other non-current assets.
We realize offsets to LNG terminal costs for sales of commissioning cargoes that were earned or loaded prior to the start of commercial operations of the respective Train during the testing phase for its construction.
We depreciate our property, plant and equipment using the straight-line depreciation method over assigned useful lives. Refer to Note 7—Property, Plant and Equipment, Net of Accumulated Depreciation for additional discussion of our useful lives by asset category. 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 impairment expense and loss (gain) on disposal of assets.
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 recorded $5 million of impairments related to property, plant and equipment during the year ended December 31, 2021. We did not record any impairments related to property, plant and equipment during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019.
We capitalize interest costs during the construction period of our LNG terminal and related assets as construction-in-process. Upon commencement of operations, these costs are transferred out of construction-in-process into terminal and interconnecting pipeline facilities assets and are amortized over the estimated useful life of the asset.
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 write off the associated regulatory assets and liabilities.
Items that may influence our assessment are:
•inability to recover cost increases due to rate caps and rate case moratoriums;
•inability to recover capitalized costs, including an adequate return on those costs through the rate-making process and the FERC proceedings;
•increased competition and discounting in the markets we serve; and
•impacts of ongoing regulatory initiatives in the natural gas industry.
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 pipeline. Under regulatory rate practices, we generally are permitted to recover AFUDC, and a fair return thereon, through our rate base after the natural gas pipelines are placed in service.
We use derivative instruments to hedge our exposure to cash flow variability from 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, under which we account for the instrument under the accrual method of accounting, whereby revenues and expenses are recognized only upon delivery, receipt or realization of the underlying transaction. When we have the contractual right and intent 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. We did not have any derivative instruments designated as cash flow or fair value hedges during the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019. See Note 8—Derivative Instruments for additional details about our derivative instruments.
We determine if an arrangement is, or contains, a lease at inception of the arrangement. When we determine the arrangement is, or contains, a lease, we classify the lease as either an operating lease or a finance lease. We did not have any financing leases as of December 31, 2021. Operating leases are recognized on our Consolidated Balance Sheets by recording a lease liability representing the obligation to make future lease payments and a right-of-use asset representing the right to use the underlying asset for the lease term.
Operating lease right-of-use assets and liabilities are generally recognized based on the present value of minimum lease payments over the lease term. In determining the present value of minimum lease payments, we use the implicit interest rate in the lease if readily determinable. In the absence of a readily determinable implicitly interest rate, we discount our expected future lease payments using our relevant subsidiary’s incremental borrowing rate. The incremental borrowing rate is an estimate of the interest rate that a given subsidiary would have to pay to borrow on a collateralized basis over a similar term to that of the lease term. Options to renew a lease are included in the lease term and recognized as part of the right-of-use asset and lease liability, only to the extent they are reasonably certain to be exercised.
We have elected practical expedients to (1) omit leases with an initial term of 12 months or less from recognition on our balance sheet and (2) to combine both the lease and non-lease components of an arrangement in calculating the right-of-use asset and lease liability for all classes of leased assets.
Lease expense for operating lease payments is recognized on a straight-line basis over the lease term.
Certain of our leases also contain variable payments, such as inflation, that are included in the right-of-use asset and lease liability only when the contract terms require the payment of a fixed amount that is unavoidable.
See Note 12—Leases for additional details about our leases.
Concentration of Credit Risk
Financial instruments that potentially subject us to a concentration of credit risk consist principally of derivative instruments and accounts receivable related to our long-term SPAs and regasification contracts, each discussed further below. Additionally, we maintain cash balances at financial institutions, which may at times be in excess of federally insured levels. We have not incurred credit losses related to these cash 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. 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 within other current assets. 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 fixed price long-term SPAs generally with terms of 20 years with eight third parties and has entered into agreements with Cheniere Marketing. SPL is dependent on the respective customers’ creditworthiness and their willingness to perform under their respective SPAs.
SPLNG has entered into two long-term TUAs with 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.
See Note 17—Customer Concentration for additional details about our customer concentration.
Our arrangements with our customers incorporate certain provisions to mitigate our exposure to credit losses and include, under certain circumstances, customer collateral, netting of exposures through the use of industry standard commercial agreements and margin deposits with certain counterparties in the over-the-counter derivative market, with such margin deposits primarily facilitated by independent system operators and by clearing brokers. Payments on margin deposits, either by us or by the counterparty depending on the position, are required when the value of a derivative exceeds our pre-established credit limit with the counterparty. Margin deposits are returned to us (or to the counterparty) on or near the settlement date for non-exchange traded derivatives, and we exchange margin calls on a daily basis for exchange traded transactions.
Our debt consists of current and long-term secured and unsecured 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. Debt issuance costs consist primarily of arrangement fees, professional fees, legal fees and printing costs. If debt issuance costs are incurred in connection with a line of credit arrangement or on undrawn funds, the debt issuance costs are presented as an asset on our Consolidated Balance Sheets. 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 or modification of debt are recorded in loss on modification or extinguishment of debt on our Consolidated Statements of Income.
We classify debt on our Consolidated Balance Sheets based on contractual maturity, with the following exceptions:
•We classify term debt that is contractually due within one year as long-term debt if management has the intent and ability to refinance the current portion of such debt with future cash proceeds from an executed long-term debt agreement.
•We evaluate the classification of long-term debt extinguished after the balance sheet date but before the financial statements are issued based on facts and circumstances existing as of the balance sheet date.
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.
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, 2021, the tax basis of our assets and liabilities was $8.3 billion less than the reported amounts of our assets and liabilities. See Note 14—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 CQP in total when evaluating financial performance and for purposes of allocating resources.
Recent Accounting Standards
In March 2020, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2020-04, Reference Rate Reform (Topic 848): Facilitation of the Effects of Reference Rate Reform on Financial Reporting. This guidance primarily provides temporary optional expedients which simplify the accounting for contract modifications to existing debt agreements expected to arise from the market transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates. The optional expedients were available to be used upon issuance of this guidance but we have not yet applied the guidance because we have not yet modified any of our existing contracts for reference rate reform. Once we apply an optional expedient to a modified contract and adopt this standard, the guidance will be applied to all subsequent applicable contract modifications until December 31, 2022, at which time the optional expedients are no longer available.