ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS 10-Q 2010
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
For the quarterly period ended September 30, 2010
Commission file number 1-11727
ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS, L.P.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
3738 Oak Lawn Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75219
(Address of principal executive offices and zip code)
(Registrants telephone number, including area code)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).
Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
Yes ¨ No x
At November 3, 2010, the registrant had units outstanding as follows:
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 191,599,549 Common Units
INDEX TO FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and Subsidiaries
Certain matters discussed in this report, excluding historical information, as well as some statements by Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (Energy Transfer Partners or the Partnership) in periodic press releases and some oral statements of Energy Transfer Partners, officials during presentations about the Partnership, include certain forward-looking statements. Statements using words such as anticipate, believe, intend, project, plan, expect continue, estimate, forecast, may, will or similar expressions help identify forward-looking statements. Although the Partnership believes such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions and current expectations and projections about future events, no assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to be correct.
Actual results may differ materially from any results projected, forecasted, estimated or expressed in forward-looking statements since many of the factors that determine these results are subject to uncertainties and risks that are difficult to predict and beyond managements control. For additional discussion of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, see Part II Other Information Item 1A. Risk Factors in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31 and June 30, 2010, as well as Part I Item 1A. Risk Factors in the Partnerships Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on February 24, 2010.
The following is a list of certain acronyms and terms generally used in the energy industry and throughout this document:
ITEM 1. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(Dollars in thousands)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these condensed consolidated financial statements.
ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS, L.P. AND SUBSIDIARIES
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(Dollars in thousands)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(Dollars in thousands, except per unit data)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME
(Dollars in thousands)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF PARTNERS CAPITAL
FOR THE NINE MONTHS ENDED SEPTEMBER 30, 2010
(Dollars in thousands)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these condensed consolidated financial statements.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS
(Dollars in thousands)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these condensed consolidated financial statements.
NOTES TO CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
(Tabular dollar amounts, except per unit data, are in thousands)
The accompanying condensed consolidated balance sheet as of December 31, 2009, which has been derived from audited financial statements, and the unaudited interim financial statements and notes thereto of Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., and its subsidiaries (Energy Transfer Partners, the Partnership, we or ETP) as of September 30, 2010 and for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAP) for interim consolidated financial information and pursuant to the rules and regulations of the SEC. Accordingly, they do not include all the information and footnotes required by GAAP for complete consolidated financial statements. However, management believes that the disclosures made are adequate to make the information not misleading. The results of operations for interim periods are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for a full year due to the seasonal nature of the Partnerships operations, maintenance activities and the impact of forward natural gas prices and differentials on certain derivative financial instruments that are accounted for using mark-to-market accounting. Management has evaluated subsequent events through the date the financial statements were issued.
In the opinion of management, all adjustments (all of which are normal and recurring) have been made that are necessary to fairly state the consolidated financial position of Energy Transfer Partners, and its subsidiaries as of September 30, 2010, and the Partnerships results of operations and cash flows for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009. The unaudited interim condensed consolidated financial statements should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto of Energy Transfer Partners presented in the Partnerships Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009, as filed with the SEC on February 24, 2010.
Certain prior period amounts have been reclassified to conform to the 2010 presentation. These reclassifications had no impact on net income or total partners capital.
We are managed by our general partner, Energy Transfer Partners GP, L.P. (our General Partner or ETP GP), which is in turn managed by its general partner, Energy Transfer Partners, L.L.C. (ETP LLC). Energy Transfer Equity, L.P., a publicly traded master limited partnership (ETE), owns ETP LLC, the general partner of our General Partner. The condensed consolidated financial statements of the Partnership presented herein include our operating subsidiaries described below.
In order to simplify the obligations of Energy Transfer Partners, under the laws of several jurisdictions in which we conduct business, our activities are primarily conducted through our operating subsidiaries (collectively the Operating Companies) as follows:
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with GAAP requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the accrual for and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period.
The natural gas industry conducts its business by processing actual transactions at the end of the month following the month of delivery. Consequently, the most current months financial results for the midstream and intrastate transportation and storage operations are estimated using volume estimates and market prices. Any differences between estimated results and actual results are recognized in the following months financial statements. Management believes that the estimated operating results represent the actual results in all material respects.
Some of the other significant estimates made by management include, but are not limited to, the timing of certain forecasted transactions that are hedged, allowances for doubtful accounts, the fair value of derivative instruments, useful lives for depreciation and amortization, purchase accounting allocations and subsequent realizability of intangible assets, fair value measurements used in the goodwill impairment test, market value of inventory, estimates related to our unit-based compensation plans, deferred taxes, assets and liabilities resulting from the regulated ratemaking process, contingency reserves and environmental reserves. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
In March 2010, we purchased a natural gas gathering company, which provides dehydration, treating, redelivery and compression services on a 120-mile pipeline system in the Haynesville Shale for approximately $150.0 million in cash, excluding certain adjustments as defined in the purchase agreement. In connection with this transaction, we recorded customer contracts of $68.2 million and goodwill of $27.3 million. See further discussion at Note 6.
Cash and cash equivalents include all cash on hand, demand deposits, and investments with original maturities of three months or less. We consider cash equivalents to include short-term, highly liquid investments that are readily convertible to known amounts of cash and that are subject to an insignificant risk of changes in value.
We place our cash deposits and temporary cash investments with high credit quality financial institutions. At times, our cash and cash equivalents may be uninsured or in deposit accounts that exceed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insurance limit.
Net cash provided by operating activities is comprised of the following:
Non-cash investing and financing activities are as follows:
Inventories consisted of the following:
We utilize commodity derivatives to manage price volatility associated with our natural gas inventory and designate certain of these derivatives as fair value hedges for accounting purposes. Changes in fair value of the designated hedged inventory have been recorded in inventory on our condensed consolidated balance sheets and cost of products sold in our condensed consolidated statements of operations.
A net increase in goodwill of $27.3 million was recorded during the nine months ended September 30, 2010, primarily due to the acquisition of the natural gas gathering company referenced in Note 3. This additional goodwill is expected to be deductible for tax purposes. In addition, we recorded customer contracts of $68.2 million with useful lives of 46 years.
Components and useful lives of intangibles and other assets were as follows:
Aggregate amortization expense of intangibles and other assets was as follows:
Estimated aggregate amortization expense for the next five years is as follows:
We review amortizable intangible assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable. If such a review should indicate that the carrying amount of amortizable intangible assets is not recoverable, we reduce the carrying amount of such assets to fair value. We review goodwill and non-amortizable intangible assets for impairment annually, or more frequently if circumstances dictate. Our annual impairment test is performed as of August 31 for reporting units within our intrastate transportation and storage, midstream and retail propane operations. We have not completed our annual impairment tests for 2010 and have not recorded any impairments related to amortizable intangible assets during the nine months ended September 30, 2010.
The carrying amounts of cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable and accounts payable approximate their fair value. Price risk management assets and liabilities are recorded at fair value. Based on the estimated borrowing rates currently available to us and our subsidiaries for long-term loans with similar terms and average maturities, the aggregate fair value and carrying amount of long-term debt at September 30, 2010 was $6.94 billion and $6.04 billion, respectively. At December 31, 2009, the aggregate fair value and carrying amount of long-term debt was $6.75 billion and $6.22 billion, respectively.
We have marketable securities, commodity derivatives and interest rate derivatives that are accounted for as assets and liabilities at fair value in our condensed consolidated balance sheets. We determine the fair value of our assets and liabilities subject to fair value measurement by using the highest possible level of inputs. Level 1 inputs are observable quotes in an active market for identical assets and liabilities. We consider the valuation of marketable securities and commodity derivatives transacted through a clearing broker with a published price from the appropriate exchange as a Level 1 valuation. Level 2 inputs are inputs observable for similar assets and liabilities. We consider over-the-counter (OTC) commodity derivatives entered into directly with third parties as a Level 2 valuation since the values of these derivatives are quoted on an exchange for similar transactions. Additionally, we consider our options transacted through our clearing broker as having Level 2 inputs due to the level of activity of these contracts on the exchange in which they trade. We consider the valuation of our interest rate derivatives as Level 2 since we use a LIBOR curve based on quotes from an active exchange of Eurodollar futures for the same period as the future interest swap settlements and discount the future cash flows accordingly, including the effects of credit risk. Level 3 inputs are unobservable. We currently do not have any recurring fair value measurements that are considered Level 3 valuations.
The following tables summarize the fair value of our financial assets and liabilities measured and recorded at fair value on a recurring basis as of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009 based on inputs used to derive their fair values:
In conjunction with the MEP Transaction, we adjusted the investment in MEP to fair value based on the present value of the expected future cash flows (Level 3), resulting in a nonrecurring fair value adjustment of $52.6 million. Substantially all of our investment was transferred to ETE. See Note 8.
Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC
On May 26, 2010, we completed the transfer of the membership interests in ETC Midcontinent Express Pipeline III, L.L.C. (ETC MEP III) to ETE pursuant to the Redemption and Exchange Agreement between us and ETE, dated as of May 10, 2010 (the MEP Transaction). ETC MEP III owns a 49.9% membership interest in Midcontinent Express Pipeline LLC (MEP), our joint venture with Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (KMP) that owns and operates the Midcontinent Express Pipeline. In exchange for the membership interests in ETC MEP III, we redeemed 12,273,830 ETP common units that were previously owned by ETE. We also paid $23.3 million to ETE upon closing of the MEP Transaction for adjustments related to capital expenditures and working capital changes of MEP. Subsequent to September 30, 2010, we received a cash closing adjustment of $8.2 million from ETE. ETE has an option that cannot be exercised until May 27, 2011, to acquire the membership interests in ETC Midcontinent Express Pipeline II, L.L.C. (ETC MEP II). ETC MEP II owns a 0.1% membership interest in MEP. In conjunction with this transfer of our interest in ETC MEP III, we recorded a non-cash charge of approximately $52.6 million during the three months ended June 30, 2010 to reduce the carrying value of our interest in ETC MEP III to its estimated fair value.
As part of the MEP Transaction, on May 26, 2010, ETE completed the contribution of the membership interests in ETC MEP III and the assignment of its rights under the option to acquire the membership interests in ETC MEP II to a subsidiary of Regency Energy Partners LP (Regency) in exchange for 26,266,791 Regency common units. In addition, ETE acquired a 100% equity interest in the general partner entities of Regency from an affiliate of GE Energy Financial Services, Inc.
We continue to guarantee 50% of MEPs obligations under MEPs $175.4 million senior revolving credit facility, with the remaining 50% of MEPs obligations guaranteed by KMP. Regency has agreed to indemnify us for any costs related to the guaranty of payments under this facility. See Note 13.
Fayetteville Express Pipeline LLC
We are party to an agreement with KMP for a 50/50 joint development of the Fayetteville Express pipeline, an approximately 185-mile natural gas pipeline that will originate in Conway County, Arkansas, continue eastward through White County, Arkansas and terminate at an interconnect with Trunkline Gas Company in Panola County, Mississippi. In December 2009, Fayetteville Express Pipeline LLC (FEP), the entity formed to construct, own and operate this pipeline, received Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval of its application for authority to construct and operate this pipeline. In July 2010, FERC granted a rehearing of the December 2009 order and allowed FEP to include in its initial rate proposed allowance for funds used during construction that accrued prior to filing its application. The pipeline began interim service in October 2010 and is expected to be fully operational in December 2010. Upon completion of all facilities, the pipeline is expected to have an initial capacity of 2.0 Bcf/d. As of September 30, 2010, FEP has secured binding commitments for a minimum of 10 years for transportation of approximately 1.85 Bcf/d. The new pipeline will interconnect with Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL) in White County, Arkansas, Texas Gas Transmission in Coahoma County, Mississippi and ANR Pipeline Company in Quitman County, Mississippi. NGPL is operated and partially owned by Kinder Morgan, Inc. Kinder Morgan, Inc. owns the general partner of KMP.
Our net income (loss) for partners capital and statement of operations presentation purposes is allocated to the General Partner and Limited Partners in accordance with their respective partnership percentages, after giving effect to priority income allocations for incentive distributions, if any, to our General Partner, the holder of the incentive distribution rights (IDRs) pursuant to our partnership agreement, which are declared and paid following the close of each quarter. Earnings in excess of distributions are allocated to the General Partner and Limited Partners based on their respective ownership interests.
A reconciliation of net income and weighted average units used in computing basic and diluted net income per unit is as follows:
Based on the declared distribution rate of $0.89375 per Common Unit, distributions paid for the three months ended September 30, 2009, were $249.5 million in total, which exceeded net income for the period by $177.0 million. Accordingly, the distributions paid to the General Partner, including incentive distributions, further exceeded the net income for the three months ended September 30, 2009, and as a result, a net loss was allocated to the Limited Partners for the period.
Revolving Credit Facilities
ETP Credit Facility
We maintain a revolving credit facility (the ETP Credit Facility) that provides for $2.0 billion of revolving credit capacity that is expandable to $3.0 billion (subject to obtaining the approval of the administrative agent and securing lender commitments for the increased borrowing capacity). The ETP Credit Facility matures on July 20, 2012, unless we elect the option of one-year extensions (subject to the approval of each such extension by the lenders holding a majority of the aggregate lending commitments). Amounts borrowed under the ETP Credit Facility bear interest, at our option, at a Eurodollar rate plus an applicable margin or a base rate. The base rate used to calculate interest on base rate loans will be calculated using the greater of a prime rate or a federal funds effective rate plus 0.50%. The applicable margin for Eurodollar loans ranges from 0.30% to 0.70% based upon ETPs credit rating and is currently 0.55% (0.60% if facility usage exceeds 50%). The commitment fee payable on the unused portion of the ETP Credit Facility varies based on our credit rating with a maximum fee of 0.125%. The fee is 0.11% based on our current rating.
As of September 30, 2010, there were no outstanding borrowings under the ETP Credit Facility. Taking into account letters of credit of approximately $22.4 million, the amount available for future borrowings was $1.98 billion.
HOLP Credit Facility
HOLP has a $75.0 million Senior Revolving Facility (the HOLP Credit Facility) available to HOLP through June 30, 2011, which may be expanded to $150.0 million. Amounts borrowed under the HOLP Credit Facility bear interest at a rate based on either a Eurodollar rate or a prime rate. The commitment fee payable on the unused portion of the facility varies based on the Leverage Ratio, as defined in the credit agreement for the HOLP Credit Facility, with a maximum fee of 0.50%. The agreement includes provisions that may require contingent prepayments in the event of dispositions, loss of assets, merger or change of control. All receivables, contracts, equipment, inventory, general intangibles, cash concentration accounts of HOLP and the capital stock of HOLPs subsidiaries secure the HOLP Credit Facility. At September 30, 2010, the HOLP credit facility had no outstanding balance in revolving credit loans and outstanding letters of credit of $0.5 million. The amount available for borrowing as of September 30, 2010 was $74.5 million.
Covenants Related to Our Credit Agreements
We were in compliance with all requirements, tests, limitations, and covenants related to our debt agreements at September 30, 2010.
Common Units Issued
The change in Common Units during the nine months ended September 30, 2010 was as follows:
In January 2010, we issued 9,775,000 Common Units through a public offering for net proceeds of $423.6 million. In August 2010, we issued 10,925,000 Common Units through a public offering for net proceeds of $489.4 million. The proceeds from these offerings were used primarily to repay borrowings under the ETP Credit Facility and to fund capital expenditures related to pipeline projects.
On August 26, 2009, we entered into an Equity Distribution Agreement with UBS Securities LLC (UBS). Pursuant to this agreement, we may offer and sell from time to time through UBS, as our sales agent, Common Units having an aggregate value of up to $300.0 million. Sales of the units will be made by means of ordinary brokers transactions on the NYSE at market prices, in block transactions or as otherwise agreed between us and UBS. Under the terms of this agreement, we may also sell Common Units to UBS as principal for its own account at a price agreed upon at the time of sale. Any sale of Common Units to UBS as principal would be pursuant to the terms of a separate agreement between us and UBS. During the nine months ended September 30, 2010, we issued 3,842,283 of our Common Units pursuant to this agreement. The proceeds of approximately $174.1 million, net of commissions, were used for general partnership purposes. Approximately $40.6 million of our Common Units remain available to be issued under the agreement based on trades initiated through September 30, 2010.
Quarterly Distributions of Available Cash
Distributions paid by us are summarized as follows:
On October 28, 2010, ETP declared a cash distribution for the three months ended September 30, 2010 of $0.89375 per Common Unit, or $3.575 annualized. This distribution will be paid on November 15, 2010 to Unitholders of record at the close of business on November 8, 2010.
The total amounts of distributions declared during the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009 were as follows (all from Available Cash from our operating surplus and are shown in the period with respect to which they relate):
Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income
The following table presents the components of accumulated other comprehensive income (AOCI), net of tax:
The components of the federal and state income tax expense (benefit) of our taxable subsidiaries are summarized as follows:
The effective tax rate differs from the statutory rate due primarily to Partnership earnings that are not subject to federal and state income taxes at the Partnership level.
In August 2009, we filed an application for FERC authority to construct and operate the Tiger pipeline. The application was approved in April 2010 and construction began in June 2010. Subject to regulatory approvals, we expect initial service on the Tiger pipeline to commence in the fourth quarter of 2010. In February 2010, we announced a 400 MMcf/d expansion of the Tiger pipeline. In June 2010, we filed an application for FERC authority to construct, own and operate that expansion, which remains under review before the FERC.
On September 29, 2006, Transwestern filed revised tariff sheets under Section 4(e) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA) proposing a general rate increase to be effective on November 1, 2006. In April 2007, the FERC approved a Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement that resolved the primary components of the rate case. Transwesterns tariff rates and fuel rates are now final for the period of the settlement. Transwestern is required to file a new rate case no later than October 1, 2011.
We have guaranteed 50% of the obligations of MEP under its senior revolving credit facility (the MEP Facility), with the remaining 50% of MEP Facility obligations guaranteed by KMP. Effective in May 2010, the commitment amount was reduced to $175.4 million due to lower usage and anticipated capital contributions. Although we transferred substantially all of our interest in MEP on May 26, 2010, as discussed above in Note 8, we will continue to guarantee 50% of MEPs obligations under this facility through the maturity of the facility in February 2011. Regency has agreed to indemnify us for any costs related to the guarantee of payments under this facility.
Subject to certain exceptions, our guarantee may be proportionately increased or decreased if our ownership percentage in MEP increases or decreases. The MEP Facility is unsecured and matures on February 28, 2011. Amounts borrowed under the MEP Facility bear interest at a rate based on either a Eurodollar rate or a prime rate. The commitment fee payable on the unused portion of the MEP Facility varies based on both our credit rating and
that of KMP, with a maximum fee of 0.15%. The MEP Facility contains covenants that limit (subject to certain exceptions) MEPs ability to grant liens, incur indebtedness, engage in transactions with affiliates, enter into restrictive agreements, enter into mergers, or dispose of substantially all of its assets.
As of September 30, 2010, MEP had $82.2 million of outstanding borrowings and $33.3 million of letters of credit issued under the MEP Facility. Our contingent obligations with respect to our 50% guarantee of MEPs outstanding borrowings and letters of credit were $41.1 million and $16.6 million, respectively, as of September 30, 2010. The weighted average interest rate on the total amount outstanding as of September 30, 2010 was 0.9%.
On November 13, 2009, FEP entered into a credit agreement that provides for a $1.1 billion senior revolving credit facility (the FEP Facility). We have guaranteed 50% of the obligations of FEP under the FEP Facility, with the remaining 50% of FEP Facility obligations guaranteed by KMP. Subject to certain exceptions, our guarantee may be proportionately increased or decreased if our ownership percentage in FEP increases or decreases. The FEP Facility is available through May 11, 2012 and amounts borrowed under the FEP Facility bear interest at a rate based on either a Eurodollar rate or a prime rate. The commitment fee payable on the unused portion of the FEP Facility varies based on both our credit rating and that of KMP, with a maximum fee of 1.0%.
As of September 30, 2010, FEP had $847.0 million of outstanding borrowings issued under the FEP Facility and our contingent obligation with respect to our 50% guarantee of FEPs outstanding borrowings was $423.5 million as of September 30, 2010. The weighted average interest rate on the total amount outstanding as of September 30, 2010 was 3.3%.
In the normal course of our business, we purchase, process and sell natural gas pursuant to long-term contracts. In addition, we enter into long-term transportation and storage agreements. Such contracts contain terms that are customary in the industry. We have also entered into several propane purchase and supply commitments, which are typically one year agreements with varying terms as to quantities, prices and expiration dates. We also have a contract to purchase not less than 90.0 million gallons of propane per year that expires in 2015. We believe that the terms of these agreements are commercially reasonable and will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations.
We have certain non-cancelable leases for property and equipment, which require fixed monthly rental payments and expire at various dates through 2034. Rental expense under these operating leases has been included in operating expenses in the accompanying statements of operations and totaled approximately $5.0 million and $6.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. For the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, rental expense for operating leases totaled approximately $16.3 million and $17.5 million, respectively.
Our propane operations have an agreement with a subsidiary of Enterprise GP Holdings L.P. (see Note 15) to supply a portion of our propane requirements. The agreement expired in March 2010; however, our propane operations executed a five year extension as of April 2010. The extension will continue until March 2015 and includes an option to extend the agreement for an additional year.
We have commitments to make capital contributions to our joint ventures. For the joint ventures that we currently have interests in, we expect that future capital contributions will be between $10 million and $15 million, which we expect to contribute primarily during the last three months of 2010.
Litigation and Contingencies
We may, from time to time, be involved in litigation and claims arising out of our operations in the normal course of business. Natural gas and propane are flammable, combustible gases. Serious personal injury and significant property damage can arise in connection with their transportation, storage or use. In the ordinary course of business, we are sometimes threatened with or named as a defendant in various lawsuits seeking actual and punitive damages for product liability, personal injury and property damage. We maintain liability insurance with insurers in amounts and with coverage and deductibles management believes are reasonable and prudent, and which are generally accepted in the industry. However, there can be no assurance that the levels of insurance protection currently in effect will continue to be available at reasonable prices or that such levels will remain adequate to protect us from material expenses related to product liability, personal injury or property damage in the future.
FERC and Related Matters. On July 26, 2007, the FERC issued to us an Order to Show Cause and Notice of Proposed Penalties (the Order and Notice) that contains allegations that we violated FERC rules and regulations. The FERC alleged that we engaged in manipulative or improper trading activities in the Houston Ship Channel, primarily on two dates during the fall of 2005 following the occurrence of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as on eight other occasions from December 2003 through August 2005, in order to benefit financially from our commodities derivatives positions and from certain of our index-priced physical gas purchases in the Houston Ship Channel. The FERC alleged that during these periods we violated the FERCs then-effective Market Behavior Rule 2, an anti-market manipulation rule promulgated by the FERC under authority of the NGA. The FERC alleged that we violated this rule by artificially suppressing prices that were included in the Platts Inside FERC Houston Ship Channel index, published by McGraw-Hill Companies, on which the pricing of many physical natural gas contracts and financial derivatives are based. The FERC also alleged that one of our intrastate pipelines violated various FERC regulations by, among other things, granting undue preferences in favor of an affiliate. In its Order and Notice, the FERC specified that it was seeking $69.9 million in disgorgement of profits, plus interest, and $82.0 million in civil penalties relating to these market manipulation claims. In February 2008, the FERCs Enforcement Staff also recommended that the FERC pursue market manipulation claims related to ETPs trading activities in October 2005 for November 2005 monthly deliveries, a period not previously covered by the FERCs allegations in the Order and Notice, and that ETP be assessed an additional civil penalty of $25.0 million and be required to disgorge approximately $7.3 million of alleged unjust profits related to this additional month.
On August 26, 2009, we entered into a settlement agreement with the FERCs Enforcement Staff with respect to the pending FERC claims against us and, on September 21, 2009, the FERC approved the settlement agreement without modification. The agreement resolves all outstanding FERC claims against us and provides that we make a $5.0 million payment to the federal government and establish a $25.0 million fund for the purpose of settling related third-party claims based on or arising out of the market manipulation allegation against us by those third parties that elect to make a claim against this fund, including existing litigation claims as well as any new claims that may be asserted against this fund. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the FERC made no findings of fact or conclusions of law. In addition, the settlement agreement specifies that by executing the settlement agreement we do not admit or concede to the FERC or any third party any actual or potential fault, wrongdoing or liability in connection with our alleged conduct related to the FERC claims. The settlement agreement also requires us to maintain specified compliance programs and to conduct independent annual audits of such programs for a two-year period.
In September 2009, the FERC appointed an administrative law judge, or ALJ, to establish a process of potential claimants to make claims against the $25.0 million fund, to determine the validity of any such claims and to make a recommendation to the FERC relating to the application of this fund to any potential claimants. Pursuant to the process established by the ALJ, a number of parties submitted claims against this fund and, subsequent thereto, the ALJ made various determinations with respect to the validity of these claims, solely for purposes of participation in this fund allocation process, and the methodology for making payments from the fund to claimants. In June 2010, each claimant that had been allocated a payment amount from the fund by the ALJ was required to make a determination as to whether to accept the ALJs recommended payment amount from the fund, and all such claimants accepted their allocated payment amounts. In connection with accepting the allocated payment amount, each such claimant was required to waive and release all claims against ETP related to this matter.
In addition to the claims that were settled pursuant to the ALJ fund allocation process discussed above, ETP was a party in three legal proceedings that asserted contract and tort claims relating to alleged manipulation of natural gas prices at the Houston Ship Channel and the Waha Hub in West Texas, as well as the natural gas price indices related to these markets and the Permian Basin natural gas price index during the period from December 2003 through December 2006. In all three of these legal proceedings, we have received favorable rulings at the lower court and appellate court levels that have resulted in the dismissal of all claims made in these proceedings, and no further appeals or motions for rehearing may be pursued by the plaintiffs in these proceedings except with respect to one proceeding as to which the plaintiffs may seek review at the U.S. Supreme Court, which action we believe is unlikely to occur.
We are expensing the legal fees, consultants fees and other expenses relating to these matters in the periods in which such costs are incurred. We record accruals for litigation and other contingencies whenever required by applicable accounting standards. Based on the terms of the settlement agreement with the FERC described above, we made the $5.0 million payment and established the $25.0 million fund in October 2009. The after-tax impact of the settlement was less than $30.0 million due to tax benefits resulting from the portion of the payment that is used to satisfy third party claims.
Houston Pipeline Cushion Gas Litigation. At the time of the HPL System acquisition, AEP Energy Services Gas Holding Company II, L.L.C., HPL Consolidation LP and its subsidiaries (the HPL Entities), their parent companies and American Electric Power Corporation (AEP), were defendants in litigation with Bank of America (B of A) that related to AEPs acquisition of HPL in the Enron bankruptcy and B of As financing of cushion gas stored in the Bammel storage facility (Cushion Gas). This litigation is referred to as the Cushion Gas Litigation. In 2004, ETC OLP (a subsidiary of ETP) acquired the HPL Entities from AEP, at which time AEP agreed to indemnify ETC OLP and the HPL Entities for any damages arising from the Cushion Gas Litigation and the loss of use of the Cushion Gas, up to a maximum of the amount paid by ETC OLP for the HPL Entities and the working gas inventory (approximately $1.00 billion in the aggregate). The Cushion Gas Litigation Agreement terminates upon final resolution of the Cushion Gas Litigation. In addition, under the terms of the Purchase and Sale Agreement, AEP retained control of additional matters relating to ongoing litigation and environmental remediation and agreed to bear the costs of or indemnify ETC OLP and the HPL Entities for the costs related to such matters. On December 18, 2007, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York held that B of A is entitled to receive monetary damages from AEP and the HPL Entities of approximately $347.3 million less the monetary amount B of A would have incurred to remove 55 Bcf of natural gas from the Bammel storage facility. Based on the indemnification provisions of the Cushion Gas Litigation Agreement, ETP expects that it will be indemnified for any monetary damages awarded to B of A under this court decision.
Other Matters. In addition to those matters described above, we or our subsidiaries are a party to various legal proceedings and/or regulatory proceedings incidental to our businesses. For each of these matters, we evaluate the merits of the case, our exposure to the matter, possible legal or settlement strategies, the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome and the availability of insurance coverage. If we determine that an unfavorable outcome of a particular matter is probable, can be estimated and is not covered by insurance, we make an accrual for the matter. For matters that are covered by insurance, we accrue the related deductible. As of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009, accruals of approximately $10.4 million and $11.1 million, respectively, were recorded related to deductibles. As new information becomes available, our estimates may change. The impact of these changes may have a significant effect on our results of operations in a single period.
The outcome of these matters cannot be predicted with certainty and it is possible that the outcome of a particular matter will result in the payment of an amount in excess of the amount accrued for the matter. As our accrual amounts are non-cash, any cash payment of an amount in resolution of a particular matter would likely be made from cash from operations or borrowings. If cash payments to resolve a particular matter substantially exceed our accrual for such matter, we may experience a material adverse impact on our results of operations, cash available for distribution and our liquidity.
No amounts have been recorded in our September 30, 2010 or December 31, 2009 consolidated balance sheets for our contingencies and current litigation matters, other than accruals related to environmental matters and deductibles.
Our operations are subject to extensive federal, state and local environmental and safety laws and regulations that can require expenditures to ensure compliance, including related to air emissions and wastewater discharges, at operating facilities and for remediation at current and former facilities as well as waste disposal sites. Although we believe our operations are in substantial compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations, risks of additional costs and liabilities are inherent in the natural gas pipeline, gathering, treating, compressing, blending and processing business. As a result, there can be no assurance that significant costs and liabilities will not be incurred. Costs of planning, designing, constructing and operating pipelines, plants and other facilities must incorporate compliance with environmental laws and regulations and safety standards. Failure to comply with these laws and regulations may result in the assessment of administrative, civil and criminal penalties, the imposition of remedial obligations, the issuance of injunctions and the filing of federally authorized citizen suits. Moreover, it is possible that other developments, such as increasingly stringent environmental laws, regulations and enforcement policies thereunder, and claims for damages to property or persons resulting from the operations, could result in substantial costs and liabilities. Accordingly, we have adopted policies, practices and procedures in the areas of pollution control, product safety, occupational safety and health, and the handling, storage, use, and disposal of hazardous materials to prevent and minimize material environmental or other damage, and to limit the
financial liability, which could result from such events. However, the risk of environmental or other damage is inherent in the transporting, gathering, treating, compressing, blending and processing natural gas, natural gas liquids and other products, as it is with other entities engaged in similar businesses.
Environmental exposures and liabilities are difficult to assess and estimate due to unknown factors such as the magnitude of possible contamination, the timing and extent of remediation, the determination of our liability in proportion to other parties, improvements in clean-up technologies and the extent to which environmental laws and regulations may change in the future. Although environmental costs may have a significant impact on the results of operations for any single period, we believe that such costs will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position.
As of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009, accruals on an undiscounted basis of $12.3 million and $12.6 million, respectively, were recorded in our condensed consolidated balance sheets as accrued and other current liabilities and other non-current liabilities related to environmental matters.
Based on information available at this time and reviews undertaken to identify potential exposure, we believe the amount reserved for environmental matters is adequate to cover the potential exposure for clean-up costs.
Transwestern conducts soil and groundwater remediation at a number of its facilities. Some of the clean-up activities include remediation of several compressor sites on the Transwestern system for historical contamination associated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the costs of this work are not eligible for recovery in rates. The total accrued future estimated cost of remediation activities expected to continue through 2018 is $8.3 million, which is included in the aggregate environmental accruals. Transwestern received FERC approval for rate recovery of projected soil and groundwater remediation costs not related to PCBs effective April 1, 2007.
Transwestern, as part of ongoing arrangements with customers, continues to incur costs associated with containing and removing potential PCBs. Future costs cannot be reasonably estimated because remediation activities are undertaken as potential claims are made by customers and former customers. However, such future costs are not expected to have a material impact on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Environmental regulations were recently modified for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys (the EPA) Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures program. We are currently reviewing the impact to our operations and expect to expend resources on tank integrity testing and any associated corrective actions as well as potential upgrades to containment structures. Costs associated with tank integrity testing and resulting corrective actions cannot be reasonably estimated at this time, but we believe such costs will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
Petroleum-based contamination or environmental wastes are known to be located on or adjacent to six sites on which HOLP presently has, or formerly had, retail propane operations. These sites were evaluated at the time of their acquisition. In all cases, remediation operations have been or will be undertaken by others, and in all six cases, HOLP obtained indemnification rights for expenses associated with any remediation from the former owners or related entities. We have not been named as a potentially responsible party at any of these sites, nor have our operations contributed to the environmental issues at these sites. Accordingly, no amounts have been recorded in our September 30, 2010 or December 31, 2009 consolidated balance sheets. Based on information currently available to us, such projects are not expected to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
By March 2013, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is required to develop another plan to address the recent change in the ozone standard from 0.08 parts per million, or ppm, to 0.075 ppm and the EPA recently proposed lowering the standard even further, to somewhere in between 0.06 and 0.07 ppm. These efforts may result in the adoption of new regulations that may require additional nitrogen oxide emissions reductions.
Our pipeline operations are subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) under the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), pursuant to which the PHMSA has established requirements relating to the design, installation, testing, construction, operation, replacement and management of pipeline facilities. Moreover, the PHMSA, through the Office of Pipeline Safety, has promulgated a rule requiring pipeline operators to develop integrity management programs to comprehensively evaluate their pipelines, and take measures to protect pipeline segments located in what the rule refers to as high consequence areas. Activities under these integrity management programs involve the performance of internal pipeline inspections, pressure
testing or other effective means to assess the integrity of these regulated pipeline segments, and the regulations require prompt action to address integrity issues raised by the assessment and analysis. For the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, $5.8 million and $9.3 million, respectively, of capital costs and $3.9 million and $3.6 million, respectively, of operating and maintenance costs have been incurred for pipeline integrity testing. For the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, $10.8 million and $24.6 million, respectively, of capital costs and $10.2 million and $12.6 million, respectively, of operating and maintenance costs have been incurred for pipeline integrity testing. Integrity testing and assessment of all of these assets will continue, and the potential exists that results of such testing and assessment could cause us to incur even greater capital and operating expenditures for repairs or upgrades deemed necessary to ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of its pipelines.
Our operations are also subject to the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, also known as OSHA, and comparable state laws that regulate the protection of the health and safety of employees. In addition, OSHAs hazardous communication standard requires that information be maintained about hazardous materials used or produced in our operations and that this information be provided to employees, state and local government authorities and citizens. We believe that our operations are in substantial compliance with the OSHA requirements, including general industry standards, record keeping requirements, and monitoring of occupational exposure to regulated substances.
National Fire Protection Association Pamphlets No. 54 and No. 58, which establish rules and procedures governing the safe handling of propane, or comparable regulations, have been adopted as the industry standard in all of the states in which we operate. In some states, these laws are administered by state agencies, and in others, they are administered on a municipal level. With respect to the transportation of propane by truck, we are subject to regulations governing the transportation of hazardous materials under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act, administered by the DOT. We conduct ongoing training programs to help ensure that our operations are in compliance with applicable regulations. We believe that the procedures currently in effect at all of our facilities for the handling, storage and distribution of propane are consistent with industry standards and are in substantial compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
We are exposed to market risks related to the volatility of natural gas, NGL and propane prices. To manage the impact of volatility from these prices, we utilize various exchange-traded and OTC commodity financial instrument contracts. These contracts consist primarily of futures, swaps and options and are recorded at fair value in the consolidated balance sheets. In general, we use derivatives to eliminate market exposure and price risk within our segments as follows:
We inject and hold natural gas in our Bammel storage facility to take advantage of contango markets, when the price of natural gas is higher in the future than the current spot price. We use financial derivatives to hedge the natural gas held in connection with these arbitrage opportunities. At the inception of the hedge, we lock in a margin by purchasing gas in the spot market or off peak season and entering a financial contract to lock in the sale price. If we designate the related financial contract as a fair value hedge for accounting purposes, we value the hedged natural gas inventory at current spot market prices along with the financial derivative we use to hedge it. Changes in the spread between the forward natural gas prices designated as fair value hedges and the physical
inventory spot price result in unrealized gains or losses until the underlying physical gas is withdrawn and the related designated derivatives are settled. Once the gas is withdrawn and the designated derivatives are settled, the previously unrealized gains or losses associated with these positions are realized. Unrealized margins represent the unrealized gains or losses from our derivative instruments using mark-to-market accounting, with changes in the fair value of our derivatives being recorded directly in earnings. These margins fluctuate based upon changes in the spreads between the physical spot price and forward natural gas prices. If the spread narrows between the physical and financial prices, we will record unrealized gains or lower unrealized losses. If the spread widens, we will record unrealized losses or lower unrealized gains. Typically, as we enter the winter months, the spread converges so that we recognize in earnings the original locked-in spread through either mark-to-market adjustments or the physical withdrawal of natural gas.
We are also exposed to market risk on natural gas we retain for fees in our intrastate transportation and storage segment and operational gas sales on our interstate transportation segment. We use financial derivatives to hedge the sales price of this gas, including futures, swaps and options. Certain contracts that qualify for hedge accounting are designated as cash flow hedges of the forecasted sale of natural gas. The change in value, to the extent the contracts are effective, remains in accumulated other comprehensive income until the forecasted transaction occurs. When the forecasted transaction occurs, any gain or loss associated with the derivative is recorded in cost of products sold in the consolidated statement of operations.
We attempt to maintain balanced positions in our marketing activities to protect ourselves from the volatility in the energy commodities markets; however, net unbalanced positions can exist. Long-term physical contracts are tied to index prices. System gas, which is also tied to index prices, is expected to provide most of the gas required by our long-term physical contracts. When third-party gas is required to supply long-term contracts, a hedge is put in place to protect the margin on the contract. Financial contracts, which are not tied to physical delivery, are expected to be offset with financial contracts to balance our positions. To the extent open commodity positions exist, fluctuating commodity prices can impact our financial position and results of operations, either favorably or unfavorably.
The following table details the outstanding commodity-related derivatives:
We expect gains of $36.6 million related to commodity derivatives to be reclassified into earnings over the next 12 months related to amounts currently reported in AOCI. The amount ultimately realized, however, will differ as commodity prices change and the underlying physical transaction occurs.
Interest Rate Risk
We are exposed to market risk for changes in interest rates. In order to maintain a cost effective capital structure, we borrow funds using a mix of fixed rate debt and variable rate debt. We manage a portion of our current and future interest rate exposures by utilizing interest rate swaps in order to achieve our desired mix of fixed and variable rate debt. We also utilize forward starting interest rate swaps to lock in the rate on a portion of our anticipated debt issuances.
In May and August 2010, we terminated interest rate swaps with total notional amounts of $750.0 million and $350.0 million, respectively, for proceeds of $15.4 million and $11.1 million, respectively. These swaps were designated as fair value hedges. In connection with the swap terminations, $9.7 million and $10.4 million of previously recorded fair value adjustments to hedged long-term debt will be amortized as a reduction of interest expense through February 2015 and July 2013, respectively. The unamortized balance remaining related to these swaps was $18.7 million as of September 30, 2010.
In August 2010, we de-designated $200.0 million of total notional amounts of forward-starting interest rate swaps previously designated as cash flow hedges. These swaps remain outstanding as of September 30, 2010, along with additional swaps with a total notional amount of $200.0 million entered into during the three months ended September 30, 2010. These forward starting swaps, which are not designated as hedges for accounting purposes, begin in August 2012 and we will pay a weighted average fixed rate of 3.64% and receive a floating rate.
In addition to interest rate swaps, we also periodically enter into interest rate swaptions that enable counterparties to exercise options to enter into interest rate swaps with us. Swaptions may be utilized when our targeted benchmark interest rate for anticipated debt issuance is not attainable at the time in the interest rate swap market. Upon issuance of a swaption, we receive a premium, which we recognize over the term of the swaption to Gains (losses) on non-hedged interest rate derivatives in the condensed consolidated statements of operations. No swaptions were outstanding as of September 30, 2010. In October 2010, the Partnership sold a swaption with a notional amount of $100.0 million and maturity date of December 31, 2010 to enter into a swap that, if exercised, would lock in the rate on a portion of anticipated debt issuances.
The following table provides a balance sheet overview of the Partnerships derivative assets and liabilities as of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009:
The commodity derivatives (margin deposits) are recorded in Other current assets on our condensed consolidated balance sheets. The remainder of the derivatives are recorded in Price risk management assets/liabilities.
We disclose the non-exchange traded financial derivative instruments as price risk management assets and liabilities on our condensed consolidated balance sheets at fair value with amounts classified as either current or long-term depending on the anticipated settlement date.
We utilize master-netting agreements and have maintenance margin deposits with certain counterparties in the OTC market and with clearing brokers. Payments on margin deposits are required when the value of a derivative exceeds our pre-established credit limit with the counterparty. Margin deposits are returned to us on the settlement date for non-exchange traded derivatives, and we exchange margin calls on a daily basis for exchange traded transactions. Since the margin calls are made daily with the exchange brokers, the fair value of the financial derivative instruments are deemed current and netted in deposits paid to vendors within other current assets in the condensed consolidated balance sheets. The Partnership had net deposits with counterparties of $58.7 million and $79.7 million as of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009, respectively.
The following tables summarize the amounts recognized with respect to our derivative financial instruments for the periods presented:
We recognized $12.5 million of unrealized gains and $13.5 million of unrealized losses on commodity derivatives not in fair value hedging relationships (including the ineffective portion of commodity derivatives in cash flow hedging relationships) for the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. We recognized $32.8 million and $32.7 million of unrealized losses on commodity derivatives not in fair value hedging relationships (including the ineffective portion of commodity derivatives in cash flow hedging relationships) for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. For the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, we recognized unrealized gains of $8.2 million and unrealized losses of $16.4 million, respectively, on commodity derivatives and related hedged inventory in fair value hedging relationships. For the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, we recognized unrealized losses of $35.3 million and $3.9 million, respectively, on commodity derivatives and related hedged inventory in fair value hedging relationships.
We maintain credit policies with regard to our counterparties that we believe minimize our overall credit risk. These policies include an evaluation of potential counterparties financial condition (including credit ratings), collateral requirements under certain circumstances and the use of standardized agreements, which allow for netting of positive and negative exposure associated with a single counterparty.
Our counterparties consist primarily of financial institutions, major energy companies and local distribution companies. This concentration of counterparties may impact our overall exposure to credit risk, either positively or negatively in that the counterparties may be similarly affected by changes in economic, regulatory or other conditions. Based on our policies, exposures, credit and other reserves, management does not anticipate a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations as a result of counterparty performance.
For financial instruments, failure of a counterparty to perform on a contract could result in our inability to realize amounts that have been recorded on our condensed consolidated balance sheet and recognized in net income or other comprehensive income.
As discussed in Note 8, Regency became a related party on May 26, 2010. Regency provides us with contract compression services. For the three months ended September 30, 2010, we recorded revenue of $0.9 million, cost of products sold of $0.7 million and operating expenses of $0.2 million related to transactions with Regency. For the period from May 26, 2010 to September 30, 2010, we recorded revenue of $0.9 million, costs of products sold of $1.4 million and operating expenses of $0.4 million related to transactions with Regency.
We recorded $2.6 million and $0.1 million from ETE for the provision of various general and administrative services for ETEs benefit for the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively. We recorded $3.7 million and $0.4 million from ETE related to these services for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Enterprise GP Holdings L.P. and its subsidiaries (collectively Enterprise) are considered to be related parties to us due to equity interests that Enterprise holds in ETE and its general partner. We and Enterprise transport natural gas on each others pipelines, share operating expenses on jointly-owned pipelines and ETC OLP sells natural gas to Enterprise. Our propane operations routinely buy and sell product with Enterprise. The following table presents sales to and purchase from Enterprise:
Our propane operations purchase a portion of our propane requirements from Enterprise pursuant to an agreement that was extended until March 2015, and includes an option to extend the agreement for an additional year. As of December 31, 2009, Titan had forward mark-to-market derivatives for approximately 6.1 million gallons of propane at a fair value asset of $3.3 million with Enterprise. All of these forward contracts were settled as of June 30, 2010. In addition, as of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009, Titan had forward derivatives accounted for as cash flow hedges of 58.1 million and 20.5 million gallons of propane at a fair value asset of $5.7 million and $8.4 million, respectively, with Enterprise.
The following table summarizes the related party balances on our condensed consolidated balance sheets:
The net imbalance payable from Enterprise was $32 thousand and $0.7 million as of September 30, 2010 and December 31, 2009, respectively.
The tables below present additional detail for certain balance sheet captions.
Other Current Assets
Other current assets consisted of the following:
Accrued and Other Current Liabilities
Accrued and other current liabilities consisted of the following:
Our financial statements reflect four reportable segments, which conduct their business exclusively in the United States of America, as follows:
We evaluate the performance of our operating segments based on operating income, which includes allocated selling, general and administrative expenses. The following tables present the financial information by segment for the following periods:
ITEM 2. MANAGEMENTS DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION
AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
(Tabular dollar amounts are in thousands)
The following is a discussion of our historical consolidated financial condition and results of operations, and should be read in conjunction with our historical consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes thereto included elsewhere in this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 filed with the SEC on February 24, 2010. Our Managements Discussion and Analysis includes forward-looking statements that are subject to risk and uncertainties. Actual results may differ substantially from the statements we make in this section due to a number of factors that are discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors included in this report and in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009.
References to we, us, our, the Partnership and ETP shall mean Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. and its subsidiaries.
Our activities are primarily conducted through our operating subsidiaries: La Grange Acquisition, L.P., which conducts business under the assumed name of Energy Transfer Company (ETC OLP); Energy Transfer Interstate Holdings, LLC (ET Interstate), the parent company of Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC (Transwestern), ETC Fayetteville Express Pipeline, LLC (ETC FEP), and ETC Tiger Pipeline, LLC (ETC Tiger); ETC Compression, LLC (ETC Compression); Heritage Operating, L.P. (HOLP); and Titan Energy Partners, L.P. (Titan).
Our primary objective is to increase the level of our cash distributions over time by pursuing a business strategy that is currently focused on growing our natural gas midstream and intrastate transportation and storage businesses (including transportation, gathering, compression, treating, processing, storage and marketing) and our propane business through, among other things, pursuing certain construction and expansion opportunities relating to our existing infrastructure and acquiring certain additional businesses or assets. The actual amounts of cash that we will have available for distribution will primarily depend on the amount of cash we generate from operations.
During the past several years, we have been successful in completing several transactions that have been accretive to our Unitholders. We have also made, and are continuing to make, significant investments in internal growth projects, primarily the construction of pipelines, gathering systems and natural gas treating and processing plants, which we believe will provide additional cash flow to our Unitholders for years to come.
Our principal operations are conducted in the following segments:
We generate fee-based revenue from our natural gas storage facilities by contracting with third parties for their use of our storage capacity. From time to time, we utilize any excess storage capacity to inject and hold natural gas in our Bammel storage facility to take advantage of contango markets, a term used to describe a pricing environment when the price of natural gas is higher in the future than the current spot price. We use financial derivatives to hedge the natural gas held in connection with these arbitrage opportunities. At the inception of the hedge, we lock in a margin by purchasing gas in the spot market and entering into a financial derivative to lock in the forward sale price. If we designate the related financial derivative as a fair value hedge for accounting purposes, we value the hedged natural gas inventory at current spot market prices whereas the financial derivative is valued using forward natural gas prices. As a result of fair value hedge accounting, we have elected to exclude the spot forward premium from the measurement of effectiveness and changes in the spread between forward natural gas prices and spot
market prices result in unrealized gains or losses until the underlying physical gas is withdrawn and the related financial derivatives are settled. Once the gas is withdrawn and the designated derivatives are settled, the previously unrealized gains or losses associated with these positions are realized. If the spread narrows between spot and forward prices, we will record unrealized gains or lower unrealized losses. If the spread widens, we will record unrealized losses or lower unrealized gains.
We also use financial derivatives to hedge prices on a portion of natural gas volumes retained as fees in our intrastate transportation and storage segment. For certain contracts that qualify for hedge accounting, we designate them as cash flow hedges of the forecasted sale of gas. The change in value, to the extent the contracts are effective, remains in accumulated other comprehensive income until the forecasted transaction occurs. When the forecasted transaction occurs, any gain or loss associated with the derivative is recorded in cost of products sold in the consolidated statement of operations.
In addition, we use financial derivatives to lock in price differentials between market hubs connected to our assets on a portion of our intrastate transportation systems open capacity. Gains and losses on these financial derivatives are dependent on price differentials at market locations, primarily points in West Texas and East Texas. We account for these derivatives using mark-to-market accounting, and the change in the value of these derivatives is recorded in earnings.
In addition to fee-based contracts for gathering, treating and processing, we also have percent of proceeds and keep-whole contracts, which are subject to market pricing. For percent of proceeds contracts (which accounted for approximately 11% of total processed volumes for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively), we retain a portion of the natural gas and NGLs processed as a fee. When natural gas and NGL pricing increase, the value of the portion we retain as a fee increases. Conversely, when prices of natural gas and NGLs decrease, so does the value of the portion we retain as a fee. For keep-whole contracts (which accounted for approximately 32% and 26% of total processed volumes for the nine month periods ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively), we retain the difference between the price of NGLs and the cost of the gas to process it. In periods of high NGL prices relative to natural gas, our margins increase. During periods of low NGL prices relative to natural gas, our margins decrease or could be negative. In the event it is uneconomical to process this gas, we have the ability to bypass our processing plants to avoid negative margins that may occur from processing NGLs.
We conduct marketing operations in which we market the natural gas that flows through our gathering assets, referred to as on-system gas. We also attract other customers by marketing volumes of natural gas that do not move through our assets, referred to as off-system gas. For both on-system and off-system gas, we purchase natural gas from natural gas producers and other suppliers and sell that natural gas to utilities, industrial consumers, other marketers and pipeline companies, thereby generating gross margins based upon the difference between the purchase and resale prices of natural gas, less the costs of transportation.
Results of Operations
See the detailed discussion of revenues, costs of products sold, gross margin, operating expenses, and depreciation and amortization by operating segment below.
Interest Expense. Interest expense increased $25.0 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 compared to the same period in the previous year principally due to our issuances of $1.0 billion in senior notes in April 2009 and Transwesterns issuance of $350.0 million of senior notes in December 2009. Interest expense is presented net of capitalized interest and allowance for debt funds used during construction, which totaled $7.1 million and $5.7 million for the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively, and $11.0 million and $15.5 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Equity in Earnings of Affiliates. Equity in earnings of affiliates decreased $9.0 million for the three months ended September 30, 2010 compared to the same period in the previous year primarily due to our transfer of substantially all of our interest in MEP to ETE on May 26, 2010. For the nine months ended September 30, 2010, the impact of the MEP transfer is offset by increased earnings from MEP during the period prior to May 26, 2010 as a result of placing the Midcontinent Express pipeline into service in 2009.
Gains (Losses) on Non-Hedged Interest Rate Derivatives. For the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, the losses on non-hedged interest rate derivatives reflect declines in the index rate during the periods. In addition, the losses on non-hedged interest rate derivatives were lower for the three months ended September 30, 2010 compared to the same period in the prior year due to a decrease in the notional amount of interest rate swaps outstanding during the period. As of September 30, 2010 and 2009, we had $400.0 million and $500.0 million, respectively, of total notional amount of interest rate swaps outstanding that were not designated as hedges for accounting purposes.
We did not have any non-hedged interest rate swaps outstanding during the first six months of 2010; therefore, the losses on non-hedged interest rate derivatives for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 reflect the losses recognized during the last three months of that period. For the nine months ended September 30, 2009, the gains on non-hedged interest rate swaps resulted from an increase in the index rate during the period.
Allowance for Equity Funds Used During Construction. Allowance for equity funds used during construction (AFUDC) increased $12.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2010, primarily due to construction on the Tiger pipeline. AFUDC on equity amounts recorded in property, plant and equipment (which excludes AFUDC gross-up) were $12.4 million and $20 thousand for the three months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively, and $17.9 million and $11.4 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively.
Impairment of Investment in Affiliate. In conjunction with the transfer of our interest in MEP, we recorded a non-cash charge of approximately $52.6 million during the nine months ended September 30, 2010 to reduce the carrying value of our interest to its estimated fair value.
Segment Operating Results
We evaluate segment performance based on operating income (either in total or by individual segment), which we believe is an important performance measure of the core profitability of our operations. This measure represents the basis of our internal financial reporting and is one of the performance measures used by senior management in deciding how to allocate capital resources among business segments.
Detailed descriptions of our business and segments are included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 filed with the SEC on February 24, 2010.
Operating income (loss) by segment is as follows: