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 Cheniere, its subsidiaries and affiliates in which we hold a controlling interest, reflecting ownership of a majority of the voting interest, as of the financial statement date. Additionally, we consolidate a VIE under certain criteria discussed further below. 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.
We make a determination at the inception of each arrangement whether an entity in which we have made an investment or in which we have other variable interests is considered a VIE. Generally, an entity is a VIE if either (1) the entity does not have sufficient equity at risk to finance its activities without additional subordinated financial support from other parties, (2) the entity’s investors lack any characteristics of a controlling financial interest or (3) which was established with non-substantive voting.
We consolidate VIEs when we are deemed to be the primary beneficiary. The primary beneficiary of a VIE is generally the party that both: (1) has the power to make decisions that most significantly affect the economic performance of the VIE and (2) has the obligation to absorb losses or the right to receive benefits that in either case could potentially be significant to the
VIE. If we are not deemed to be the primary beneficiary of a VIE, we account for the investment or other variable interests in a VIE in accordance with applicable GAAP.
When we consolidate an entity, we include 100% of the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses of the subsidiary in our Consolidated Financial Statements. For those entities that we consolidate in which our ownership is less than 100%, we record a non-controlling interest as a component of equity on our Consolidated Balance Sheets, which represents the third party ownership in the net assets of the respective consolidated subsidiary. Additionally, the portion of the net income or loss attributable to the non-controlling interest is reported as net income (loss) attributable to non-controlling interest on our Consolidated Statements of Operations. Changes in our ownership interests in an entity that do not result in deconsolidation are generally recognized within equity. See Note 9—Non-controlling Interest and Variable Interest Entities for additional details about our non-controlling interest.
Equity Method Investments
Investments in non-controlled entities, which Cheniere has the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies are accounted for using the equity method of accounting, with our share of earnings or losses reported in other income (expense) on our Consolidated Statements of Operations. In applying the equity method of accounting, the investments are initially recognized at cost, and subsequently adjusted for our proportionate share of earnings, losses and distributions. Investments accounted for using the equity method of accounting are reported as a component of other noncurrent assets. See Note 8—Other Non-Current Assets, Net for additional details about our equity method investments.
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”) and recoverability of deferred tax assets, each 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 7—Derivative Instruments, and liability-classified share-based compensation awards, as disclosed in Note 16—Share-Based Compensation.
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 selling, general and administrative expense in our Consolidated Statements of Operations. 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, for certain qualifying costs, 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 terminals 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 terminals.
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 6—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 $8 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 terminals 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 and Corpus Christi Pipeline are 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 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, commodity price and foreign currency exchange (“FX”) rate 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 7—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. Operating and finance 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 and finance 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. Lease expense for finance leases is recognized as the sum of the amortization of the right-of-use assets on a straight-line basis and the interest on lease liabilities using the effective interest method 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. Our interest rate and FX 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.
We have contracted our anticipated production capacity under SPAs and under IPM agreements. Substantially all of our contracted capacity is from contracts with terms exceeding 10 years. Excluding contracts with terms less than 10 years, our SPAs and IPM agreements had approximately 17 years of weighted average remaining life as of December 31, 2021. We market and sell LNG produced by the Liquefaction Projects that is not required for other customers through our integrated marketing function. We are dependent on the respective customers’ creditworthiness and their willingness to perform under their respective agreements.
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 21—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.
Goodwill is the excess of acquisition cost of a business over the estimated fair value of net assets acquired. Goodwill is not amortized however we test goodwill for impairment at least annually as of October 1st, or more frequently if events or circumstances indicate goodwill is more likely than not impaired. When evaluating goodwill for impairment, we may either perform a qualitative assessment or a quantitative test. The qualitative assessment is an assessment of historical information and relevant events and circumstances to determine whether it is more likely than not that the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, including goodwill. If it is concluded that it is more-likely-than not that an impairment exists, a quantitative test is required which compares the estimated fair value of a reporting unit to its carrying value and measures any goodwill impairment as the amount by which the carrying amount of the reporting unit exceeds its fair value. We may elect not to perform the qualitative assessment and instead perform a quantitative impairment test.
We completed our annual assessment of goodwill impairment in the current year by performing a qualitative assessment; which indicated it was not more likely than not that there was an impairment and therefore no quantitative test was required. Significant judgments and assumptions are inherent in our estimate of future cash flows used to determine the estimate of the reporting unit’s fair value. Factors that could trigger a lower fair value estimate include significant negative industry or economic trends, cost increases, disruptions to our business, regulatory or political environment changes or other unanticipated events.
Our debt consists of current and long-term secured and unsecured debt securities, convertible 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 Operations.
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 or the Corpus Christi Pipeline. We believe that it is not feasible to predict when the natural gas transportation services provided by the Creole Trail Pipeline or the Corpus Christi Pipeline will no longer be utilized. In addition, our right-of-way agreements associated with the Creole Trail Pipeline and the Corpus Christi Pipeline have no stipulated termination dates. We intend to operate the Creole Trail Pipeline and the Corpus Christi Pipeline as long as supply and demand for natural gas exists in the United States and intend to maintain it regularly.
We have awarded share-based compensation in the form of stock (immediately vested), restricted stock shares, restricted stock units, performance stock units and phantom units. The awards and our related accounting policies are more fully described in Note 16—Share-based Compensation.
Provisions for income taxes are based on taxes payable or refundable for the current year and deferred taxes on temporary differences between the tax basis of assets and liabilities and their reported amounts in our Consolidated Financial Statements. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are included in our Consolidated Financial Statements at currently enacted income tax rates applicable to the period in which the deferred tax assets and liabilities are expected to be realized or settled. As changes in tax laws or rates are enacted, deferred tax assets and liabilities are adjusted through the current period’s provision for income taxes.
A valuation allowance is recorded to reduce the carrying value of our deferred tax assets when it is more likely than not that a portion or all of the deferred tax assets will expire before realization of the benefit or future deductibility is not probable.
We recognize the financial statement effects of a tax position when it is more likely than not, based on the technical merits, that the position will be sustained upon examination.
Net Income (Loss) Per Share
Basic net income (loss) per share attributable to common stockholders (“EPS”) excludes dilution and is computed by dividing net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the period. Diluted EPS reflects potential dilution and is computed by dividing net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders by the weighted average number of common shares outstanding during the period increased by the number of additional common shares that would have been outstanding if the potential common shares had been issued. The dilutive effect of unvested stock is calculated using the treasury-stock method and the dilutive effect of convertible securities is calculated using the treasury or if-converted method.
Refer to Note 18—Net Income (Loss) per Share Attributable to Common Stockholders for additional details of EPS for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019.
We have determined that we operate as a single operating and reportable segment. Substantially all of our long-lived assets are located in the United States. Our chief operating decision maker makes resource allocation decisions and assesses performance based on financial information presented on a consolidated basis in the delivery of an integrated source of LNG to our customers.
Recent Accounting Standards
In August 2020, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) issued Accounting Standards Update (“ASU”) 2020-06, Debt—Debt with Conversion and Other Options (Subtopic 470-20) and Derivatives and Hedging—Contracts in Entity’s Own Equity (Subtopic 815-40): Accounting for Convertible Instruments and Contracts in an Entity’s Own Equity. This guidance simplifies the accounting for convertible instruments primarily by eliminating the existing cash conversion and beneficial conversion models within Subtopic 470-20, which will result in fewer embedded conversion options being accounted for separately from the debt host. The guidance also amends and simplifies the calculation of earnings per share relating to convertible instruments. This guidance is effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2021, including interim periods within that reporting period, with earlier adoption permitted for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020, including interim periods within that reporting period, using either a full or modified retrospective approach. We plan to adopt this guidance on January 1, 2022 using the modified retrospective approach. Preliminarily, we anticipate the adoption of ASU 2020-06 will primarily result in the reclassification of the previously bifurcated equity component associated with the 4.25% Convertible Senior Notes due 2045 (the “2045 Cheniere Convertible Senior Notes”) to debt as a result of the elimination of the cash conversion model. We currently estimate that the reclassification of the $194 million equity component will result in an approximate $190 million increase in the carrying value of our 2045 Cheniere Convertible Senior Notes, with the difference primarily impacting retained earnings as of January 1, 2022. In December 2021, we issued a notice of redemption for all $625 million aggregate principal amount outstanding of 2045 Cheniere Convertible Senior Notes, which were redeemed on January 5, 2022. We continue to evaluate the impact of the provisions of this guidance on our Consolidated Financial Statements and related disclosures. See Note 11—Debt for further discussion on the 2045 Cheniere Convertible Senior Notes.
In March 2020, the FASB issued 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 contracts expected to arise from the market transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates. The transition period under this standard is effective March 12, 2020 and will apply through December 31, 2022.
We have various credit facilities and interest rate swaps indexed to LIBOR, as further described in Note 7—Derivative Instruments and Note 11—Debt. To date, we have amended certain of our credit facilities to incorporate a fallback replacement rate indexed to SOFR as a result of the expected LIBOR transition. We elected to apply the optional expedients as applicable to certain modified terms, however the impact of applying the optional expedients has not been material thus far. We will continue to elect to apply the optional expedients to qualifying contract modifications in the future.