SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
Commission file number
(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)
(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)
(Address of Principal Executive Offices)
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
3,750,000 Series A Convertible Preferred Units
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. ☐ Yes ☒
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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. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer ☐
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards* provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
The term “new or revised financial accounting standards” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ⌧
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow. ☐ Item 17 ☐ Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). ☐ Yes
KNOT Offshore Partners LP
INDEX TO REPORT ON FORM 20-F
This Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2020 (this “Annual Report”) contains certain forward-looking statements concerning plans and objectives of management for future operations or economic performance, or assumptions related thereto, including our financial forecast. In addition, we and our representatives may from time to time make other oral or written statements that are also forward-looking statements. Such statements include, in particular, statements about our plans, strategies, business prospects, changes and trends in our business, and the markets in which we operate as described in this Annual Report. In some cases, you can identify the forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “may,” “could,” “should,” “would,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “forecast,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “propose,” “potential,” “continue” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology. These forward-looking statements reflect management’s current views only as of the date of this Annual Report and are not intended to give any assurance as to future results. As a result, unitholders are cautioned not to rely on any forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places in this Annual Report and include statements with respect to, among other things:
|●||the length and severity of the outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19 ("COVID-19"), including its impact on KNOT Offshore Partners' business, cash flows and operations as well as the business and operations of its customers, suppliers and lenders;|
|●||market trends in the shuttle tanker or general tanker industries, including hire rates, factors affecting supply and demand, and opportunities for the profitable operations of shuttle tankers;|
|●||the ability of Knutsen NYK Offshore Tankers AS (“KNOT”) and KNOT Offshore Partners LP (“KNOT Offshore Partners”) to build shuttle tankers and the timing of the delivery and acceptance of any such vessels by their respective charterers;|
|●||forecasts of KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to make or increase distributions on its common units and to make distributions on its Series A Convertible Preferred Units (the “Series A Preferred Units”) and the amount of any such distributions;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to integrate and realize the expected benefits from acquisitions;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ anticipated growth strategies;|
|●||the effects of a worldwide or regional economic slowdown;|
|●||turmoil in the global financial markets;|
|●||fluctuations in currencies and interest rates;|
|●||fluctuations in the price of oil;|
|●||general market conditions, including fluctuations in hire rates and vessel values;|
|●||changes in KNOT Offshore Partners’ operating expenses, including drydocking and insurance costs and bunker prices;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ future financial condition or results of operations and future revenues and expenses;|
|●||the repayment of debt and settling of any interest rate swaps;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to make additional borrowings and to access debt and equity markets;|
|●||planned capital expenditures and availability of capital resources to fund capital expenditures;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to maintain long-term relationships with major users of shuttle tonnage;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to leverage KNOT’s relationships and reputation in the shipping industry;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to purchase vessels from KNOT in the future;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ continued ability to enter into long-term charters, which KNOT Offshore Partners defines as charters of five years or more;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to maximize the use of its vessels, including the re-deployment or disposition of vessels no longer under long-term charter;|
|●||the financial condition of KNOT Offshore Partners’ existing or future customers and their ability to fulfill their charter obligations;|
|●||timely purchases and deliveries of newbuilds;|
|●||future purchase prices of newbuilds and secondhand vessels;|
|●||any impairment of the value of KNOT Offshore Partners’ vessels;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to compete successfully for future chartering and newbuild opportunities;|
|●||acceptance of a vessel by its charterer;|
|●||termination dates and extensions of charters;|
|●||the expected cost of, and KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to, comply with governmental regulations, maritime self-regulatory organization standards, as well as standard regulations imposed by its charterers applicable to KNOT Offshore Partners’ business, including the availability and cost of low sulfur fuel oil compliant with the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) sulfur emission limit reductions generally referred to as “IMO 2020” that took effect January 1, 2020;|
|●||availability of skilled labor, vessel crews and management, including possible disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ general and administrative expenses and its fees and expenses payable under the technical management agreements, the management and administration agreements and the administrative services agreement;|
|●||the anticipated taxation of KNOT Offshore Partners and distributions to its unitholders;|
|●||estimated future maintenance and replacement capital expenditures;|
|●||Marshall Islands economic substance requirements;|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ ability to retain key employees;|
|●||customers’ increasing emphasis on climate, environmental and safety concerns;|
|●||potential liability from any pending or future litigation;|
|●||potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents, political events, piracy or acts by terrorists;|
|●||future sales of KNOT Offshore Partners’ securities in the public market; and|
|●||KNOT Offshore Partners’ business strategy and other plans and objectives for future operations.|
Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report are made based upon management’s current plans, expectations, estimates, assumptions and beliefs concerning future events impacting us and therefore involve a number of risks and uncertainties, including those risks discussed in “Item 3. Key Information—Risk Factors.” The risks, uncertainties and assumptions involve known and unknown risks and are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond KNOT Offshore Partners’ control. KNOT Offshore Partners cautions that forward-looking statements are not guarantees and that actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements.
KNOT Offshore Partners undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement or statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which such statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible to predict all of these factors. Further, KNOT Offshore Partners cannot assess the impact of each such factor on its business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to be materially different from those contained in any forward-looking statement. KNOT Offshore Partners makes no prediction or statement about the performance of its common units. The various disclosures included in this Annual Report and in KNOT Offshore Partners’ other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) that attempt to advise interested parties of the risks and factors that may affect KNOT Offshore Partners’ business, prospects and results of operations should be carefully reviewed and considered.
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
A. Selected Financial Data
The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in this Annual Report. Unless the context otherwise requires, references herein to “KNOT Offshore Partners,” “we,” “our,” “us” and “the Partnership” or similar terms refer to KNOT Offshore Partners LP, a Marshall Islands limited partnership, or any one or more of its subsidiaries, or to all such entities. References to “KNOT” refer, depending on the context, to Knutsen NYK Offshore Tankers AS and to any one or more of its direct and indirect subsidiaries. References to “KNOT Management” refer to KNOT Management AS, the entity that provides us with crew, technical and commercial management services. References to “KNOT Management Denmark” refer to KNOT Management Denmark AS, a 100% owned subsidiary of KNOT which also provides us with management services. References to “our general partner” refer to KNOT Offshore Partners GP LLC, the general partner of the Partnership. References to “KNOT UK” refer to KNOT Offshore Partners UK LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Partnership. References to “TSSI” refer to TS Shipping Invest AS, and references to “NYK Europe” refer to NYK Logistics Holding (Europe) B.V, each of which holds a 50% interest in KNOT. References to NYK are to Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha. References to “KOAS UK” refer to Knutsen OAS (UK) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of TSSI. References to “KOAS” refer to Knutsen OAS Shipping AS, a wholly owned subsidiary of TSSI.
The following table presents, in each case for the periods and as of the dates indicated, our selected consolidated financial and operating data.
In August 2013, June 2014, December 2014, June 2015, October 2015, December 2016, March 2017, June, 2017, September 2017, December 2017, March 2018 and December 2020, we acquired KNOT’s 100% interest in the companies that own and operate the shuttle tankers, the Carmen Knutsen , the Hilda Knutsen and Torill Knutsen, the Dan Cisne, the Dan Sabia, the Ingrid Knutsen, the Raquel Knutsen, the Tordis Knutsen, the Vigdis Knutsen, the Lena Knutsen, the Brasil Knutsen, the Anna Knutsen and the Tove Knutsen respectively, each of which we accounted for as an acquisition of a business, other than the Anna Knutsen and Tove Knutsen, which were accounted for as an asset. The results of these acquisitions are included in our results from the dates of their respective acquisition. There has been no retroactive restatement of our financial statements to reflect the historical results of the Carmen Knutsen, the Hilda Knutsen, the Torill Knutsen, the Dan Cisne, the Dan Sabia, the Ingrid Knutsen, the Raquel Knutsen, the Tordis Knutsen, the Vigdis Knutsen, the Lena Knutsen, the Brasil Knutsen, the Anna Knutsen or the Tove Knutsen prior to their respective acquisition.
The following financial data should be read in conjunction with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” and the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in this Annual Report.
Our financial position, results of operations and cash flows presented below may not be indicative of our future operating results or financial performance.
Year Ended December 31,
(U.S. Dollars in thousands, except per unit amounts and fleet data)
Statement of Operations Data:
Vessel operating expenses(1)
General and administrative expenses
Other finance expense
Realized and unrealized gain (loss) on derivative instruments
Net gain (loss) on foreign currency transactions
Income before income taxes
Income tax benefit (expense)
Earnings Per Unit (Basic and Diluted):
Common units (Basic)
Common units (Diluted)
General partner units
Cash distributions declared and paid per unit
Balance Sheet Data (at end of period):
Cash and cash equivalents
Vessels and equipment, net
Long‑term debt (including current portion and seller’s credits)
Series A Convertible Preferred Units
Cash Flows Data:
Net cash provided by operating activities
Net cash used in investing activities
Net cash used in financing activities
Number of shuttle tankers in operation at end of period
Average age of shuttle tankers in operation at end of period (years)
Total calendar days for fleet
Total operating days for fleet(3)
Other Financial Data:
|(1)||Vessel operating expenses include crewing, repairs and maintenance, insurance, stores, lube oils and communication expenses.|
|(2)||On May 18, 2016 all of the subordinated units converted into common units on a one-for-one basis.|
|(3)||The operating days for our fleet is the total number of days in a given period that the vessels were in our possession less the total number of days off-hire. We define days off-hire as days lost to, among other things, operational deficiencies, drydocking for repairs, maintenance or inspection, equipment breakdowns, special surveys and vessel upgrades, delays due to accidents, crewing strikes, certain vessel detentions or similar problems, our failure to maintain the vessel in compliance with its specifications and contractual standards or to provide the required crew, or periods of commercial waiting time during which we do not earn hire rates.|
|(4)||Please read “—Non-U.S. GAAP Financial Measures” below.|
Non-U.S. GAAP Financial Measures
EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA. EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, depreciation and taxes. Adjusted EBITDA is defined as earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and other financial items (including other finance expense, realized and unrealized gain (loss) on derivative instruments and net gain (loss) on foreign currency transactions). EBITDA is used as a supplemental financial measure by management and external users of financial statements, such as our lenders, to assess our financial and operating performance and our compliance with the financial covenants and restrictions contained in our financing agreements. Adjusted EBITDA is used as a supplemental financial measure by management and external users of financial statements, such as investors, to assess our financial and operating performance. We believe that EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA assist our management and investors by increasing the comparability of our performance from period to period and against the performance of other companies in our industry that provide EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA information. This increased comparability is achieved by excluding the potentially disparate effects between periods or companies of interest, other financial items, taxes, goodwill impairment charges and depreciation, as applicable, which items are affected by various and possibly changing financing methods, capital structure and historical cost basis and which items may significantly affect net income between periods. We believe that including EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA as financial measures benefits investors in (1) selecting between investing in us and other investment alternatives and (2) monitoring our ongoing financial and operational strength in assessing whether to continue to hold common units.
EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered alternatives to net income or any other indicator of our performance calculated in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“U.S. GAAP”). EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA exclude some, but not all, items that affect net income, and these measures may vary among other companies. Therefore, EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA as presented below may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies. The following table reconciles EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA to net income, the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP measure, for the periods presented.
Year Ended December 31,
(U.S Dollars in thousands)
Income tax (benefit) expense
Other financial items (a)
|(a)||Other financial items consist of other finance expense, realized and unrealized (gain) loss on derivative instruments, and net (gain) loss on foreign currency transactions.|
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
The risk factors summarized and detailed below could materially and adversely affect our business, our financial condition, our operating results and the trading price of our common units. These material risks include, but are not limited to, those relating to:
|●||We may not have sufficient cash from operations following the establishment of cash reserves and payment of fees and expenses to enable us to pay the minimum quarterly distribution on our common units.|
|●||Failure to control the outbreak of COVID-19 is negatively affecting the global economy and energy demand and may adversely affect our business.|
|●||Our cash distribution policy may adversely affect our ability to grow and to meet our financial needs.|
|●||We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain the operating capacity of our fleet. Each quarter we are required to deduct estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures from operating surplus in order to determine our distributable cash flow, which may result in less cash available to unitholders.|
|●||If capital expenditures are financed through cash from operations or by issuing debt or equity securities, our ability to make cash distributions may be diminished, our financial leverage could increase, or our unitholders may be diluted.|
|●||Our debt levels may limit our flexibility in obtaining additional financing, pursuing other business opportunities and paying distributions to our unitholders.|
|●||Our financing agreements contain operating and financial restrictions|
|●||Restrictions in our debt agreements may prevent us or our subsidiaries from paying distributions.|
|●||We may fail to consummate or integrate acquisitions in a timely and cost-effective manner.|
|●||Our charters are subject to early termination under certain circumstances.|
|●||We may experience operational problems with vessels that reduce revenue and increase costs.|
|●||We currently derive all of our time charter and bareboat revenues from seven customers.|
|●||We depend on subsidiaries of KNOT to assist us in operating our businesses.|
|●||Our growth depends on continued growth in demand for shuttle tanker transportation services.|
|●||Declines in oil prices may adversely affect our growth prospects and results of operations.|
|●||Adverse conditions in the global economy or financial markets may impair our customers' and suppliers' ability to pay for our services.|
|●||The new economic and security relationship between the United Kingdom and the E.U. stemming from Brexit could adversely impact us.|
|●||Our growth depends on our ability to expand relationships with existing customers and obtain new customers, for which we face substantial competition.|
|●||An increase in the global supply of shuttle tanker capacity without a commensurate increase in demand may have an adverse effect on hire rates and the values of our vessels.|
|●||The required drydocking of our vessels could be more expensive and time consuming than we anticipate.|
|●||We may be unable to re-charter our vessels upon termination or expiration of their existing charters.|
|●||Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be very costly and may adversely affect our business.|
|●||The value of our vessels may decline, which could adversely affect our operating results.|
|●||Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations and markets.|
|●||Our international operations expose us to political, governmental and economic instability.|
|●||Marine transportation is inherently risky, particularly in the extreme conditions in which our vessels operate. We could experience an incident involving loss of product or environmental contamination.|
|●||Our insurance may not be sufficient to cover losses.|
|●||Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels may affect us.|
|●||Vessels transporting oil are subject to substantial environmental and other regulations.|
|●||We are exposed to currency exchange rate fluctuations.|
|●||Many seafaring employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements.|
|●||KNOT may on our behalf be unable to attract and retain qualified, skilled employees or crew necessary to operate our business or may have to pay substantially increased costs for its employees and crew.|
|●||Maritime claimants could arrest our vessels, which could interrupt our cash flow.|
|●||Lack of diversification and adverse developments in the shuttle tanker market or the conventional oil tanker market would negatively impact our results.|
|●||If in the future our business activities involve countries, entities and individuals that are subject to restrictions imposed by the U.S. or other governments, we could be subject to enforcement action.|
|●||We could fail to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act, the anti-corruption provisions in the Norwegian Criminal Code and other anti-bribery legislation.|
|●||A cyber-attack could materially disrupt our business.|
|●||Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws, directives and regulations regarding privacy and data protection.|
|●||KNOT and its affiliates may compete with us.|
|●||Unitholders have limited voting rights, and our partnership agreement restricts the voting rights of Norwegian Resident Holders and unitholders owning more than 4.9% of our common units.|
|●||KNOT and its affiliates own a substantial interest in us and have conflicts of interest and limited fiduciary and contractual duties to us and our common unitholders.|
|●||Our partnership agreement limits our general partner's and our directors' fiduciary duties to our unitholders and restricts the remedies available to unitholders for actions taken by them.|
|●||Fees and cost reimbursements, which affiliates of KNOT determine for services provided to us and our subsidiaries, are substantial and payable regardless of our profitability.|
|●||Our partnership agreement contains provisions that may have the effect of discouraging a person or group from attempting to remove our management or our general partner without KNOT's consent.|
|●||The control of our general partner may be transferred to a third party without unitholder consent.|
|●||Substantial future sales of our common units or the issuance of additional preferred units in the public market could cause the price of our common units to fall.|
|●||Our common units are subordinated to our existing and future indebtedness and Series A Preferred Units.|
|●||KNOT, as the holder of all of the incentive distribution rights, may elect to cause us to issue additional common units to it in connection with a resetting of the target distribution levels related to its incentive distribution rights.|
|●||We may issue additional equity securities without the approval of our unitholders.|
|●||A substantial number of our common units may be issued upon conversion of our Series A Preferred Units or as redemption payments in respect of our Series A Preferred Units.|
|●||Our Series A Preferred Units have rights, preferences and privileges not held by common unitholders.|
|●||In establishing cash reserves, our board may reduce the amount of cash available for distribution.|
|●||Our general partner has a limited call right that may require our unitholders to sell their common units.|
|●||Our unitholders may not have limited liability if a court finds that unitholder action constitutes control of our business.|
|●||We can borrow money to pay distributions.|
|●||Increases in interest rates may cause the market price of our common units to decline.|
|●||We are exposed to market risks relating to the announced phase-out of the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”).|
|●||We rely on the master limited partnership ("MLP") structure and its appeal to investors for accessing debt and equity markets to finance our growth and repay or refinance our debt.|
|●||Unitholders may have liability to repay distributions.|
|●||The Marshall Islands does not have a well-developed body of partnership law.|
|●||Our operations may be subject to economic substance requirements of the EU.|
|●||It may be difficult to serve us with legal process or enforce judgments against us.|
|●||Our partnership agreement designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our unitholders unless otherwise provided for under the laws of the Marshall Islands.|
|●||We are subject to taxes, which reduces our cash available for distribution to our unitholders.|
|●||A change in tax laws in any country in which we operate could adversely affect us.|
|●||U.S. tax authorities could treat us as a "passive foreign investment company."|
|●||We may have to pay tax on U.S. source income, which would reduce our cash flow.|
|●||Our unitholders may be subject to income tax in one or more non-U.S. jurisdictions if, under the laws of any such jurisdiction, we are considered to be carrying on business there.|
In addition, risks not presently known to us or risks that we currently deem immaterial could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and the trading price of our common units.
Risks Inherent in Our Business
We may not have sufficient cash from operations following the establishment of cash reserves and payment of fees and expenses to enable us to pay the minimum quarterly distribution on our common units.
We may not have sufficient cash from operations to pay the minimum quarterly distribution on our common units. Furthermore, distributions to the holders of our common units are subject to the prior distribution rights of any holders of our preferred units outstanding. As of March 18, 2021, there were 3,750,000 Series A Preferred Units issued and outstanding. Under the terms of our partnership agreement, we are prohibited from declaring and paying distributions on our common units until we declare and pay (or set aside for payment) full distributions on the Series A Preferred Units. The amount of cash we can distribute on our units principally depends upon the amount of cash we generate from our operations, which may fluctuate from quarter to quarter based on the risks described in this section, including, among other things:
|●||the charter rates we obtain from our customers;|
|●||the number of off-hire days for our fleet and the timing of, and number of days required for, drydocking of vessels;|
|●||the level of our operating costs, such as the cost of crews and insurance;|
|●||currency exchange rate fluctuations;|
|●||the supply of shuttle tankers;|
|●||the demand for shuttle tankers;|
|●||the price and level of production of, and demand for, crude oil;|
|●||prevailing global and regional economic and political conditions;|
|●||changes in local income tax rates; and|
|●||the effect of governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards on the conduct of our business, including the availability and cost of low sulfur fuel oil compliant with IMO 2020.|
In addition, the actual amount of cash we have available for distribution depends on other factors, including:
|●||the level of capital expenditures we make, including for maintaining or replacing vessels, building new vessels, acquiring existing vessels and complying with regulations;|
|●||the level of debt we will incur to fund future acquisitions;|
|●||fluctuations in our working capital needs;|
|●||our ability to make, and the level of, working capital borrowings; and|
|●||the amount of any cash reserves, including reserves for future maintenance and replacement capital expenditures, working capital and other matters, established by our board of directors.|
The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our profit or loss for the period, which is affected by non-cash items. As a result of this and the other factors mentioned above, we may make cash distributions during periods when we record losses and may not make cash distributions during periods when we record net income.
Failure to control the outbreak of COVID-19 is negatively affecting the global economy and energy demand and may adversely affect our business.
The outbreak of the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) continues to negatively affect global economic activity, including the demand for oil and oil shipping, which may materially impact the Partnership’s operations and the operations of its customers and suppliers.
The ultimate length and severity of the current pandemic and its potential impact on the Partnership's business, financial condition and results of operations remains uncertain at this time and has increased uncertainty in a number of areas of the Partnership’s business, including operational, commercial and financial activities. Large scale distribution of vaccines seems likely to mitigate some of these uncertainties, but it remains too early to definitively judge the speed, scale and overall effect of vaccination efforts.
The closure of, or restricted access to, ports and terminals and passenger air travel in regions affected by the virus may lead to further operational impacts that could result in higher costs. It is possible that an outbreak onboard a vessel could prevent the Partnership from meeting its obligations under a charter, resulting in an off-hire claim and loss of revenue. Any outbreak of COVID-19 on board one of the Partnership's vessels or that affects any of the Partnership’s main suppliers could cause an inability to replace critical supplies or parts, maintain adequate crewing or fulfill the Partnership's obligations under its time charter contracts which in turn could result in off-hire or claims for the impacted period.
COVID-19 has placed downward pressure on economic activity and energy demand and there remains significant uncertainty moving into 2021. Announced delays in new capital expenditure by many oil majors has had a negative impact on the demand for shuttle tankers in the short term and, given the uncertainty around the continuation of the COVID-19 situation, this dampened demand could persist and could affect the number of new, long-term offshore projects and the overall outlook for oil production, which could eventually and in turn impact the demand and pricing for shuttle tankers. Furthermore, the Partnership may be unable to re-charter its vessels at attractive rates in the future, particularly for vessels that are coming off charter in the next one to two years.
The Partnership is exposed to the uncertainty of cash flows from its time charter contracts arising from the credit risk associated with individual charterers. Any extended period of non-payment or idle time between charters caused by issues related to COVID-19 or otherwise could adversely affect the Partnership’s future liquidity, results of operations and cash flows. Although the Partnership has not so far experienced any reduced or non-payments for obligations under the Partnership’s time charter contracts and the Partnership has not provided concessions or made changes to the terms of payment for customers, no assurance can be given that customers will continue to meet their obligations and will not request concessions or changes to payment terms in the future.
COVID-19 has also had a sustained impact on global capital markets and the responses of governments around the world to manage the impact of the virus have led to lower interest rates and volatility in the prices of equities, bonds, commodities and their respective derivatives. The Partnership’s common unit price remains lower than the price at the start of 2020, mainly due to the impact of COVID-19 on the wider economy and sentiment in the energy and shipping sectors. In these current market conditions with lower unit prices, issuing new common equity remains a less viable and more expensive option for accessing liquidity. The Partnership has two tranches of debt maturing in August and November 2021. The Partnership expects to refinance these tranches of long-term debt but, if it is unable to do so on satisfactory terms, the Partnership may not have sufficient funds or other assets to satisfy all of its obligations, which would have a material adverse effect on its business, results of operations and financial condition.
Our ability to grow and to meet our financial needs may be adversely affected by our cash distribution policy.
Our cash distribution policy, which is consistent with our partnership agreement, requires us to distribute all of our available cash (as defined in our partnership agreement) each quarter. Accordingly, our growth may not be as fast as businesses that reinvest their available cash to expand ongoing operations.
In determining the amount of cash available for distribution, our board of directors approves the amount of cash reserves to set aside, including reserves for future maintenance and replacement capital expenditures, working capital and other matters. We also rely upon external financing sources, including commercial borrowings, to fund our capital expenditures. Accordingly, to the extent we do not have sufficient cash reserves or are unable to obtain financing, our cash distribution policy may significantly impair our ability to meet our financial needs or to grow.
We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain the operating capacity of our fleet, which reduces cash available for distribution. In addition, each quarter we are required to deduct estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures from operating surplus in order to determine our distributable cash flow, which may result in less cash available to unitholders than if actual maintenance and replacement capital expenditures were deducted.
We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain, over the long-term, the operating capacity of our fleet. Maintenance and replacement capital expenditures include capital expenditures associated with the removal of a vessel from the water for inspection, maintenance and/or repair of submerged parts (or drydocking) and modifying an existing vessel or acquiring a new comparable vessel to the extent these expenditures are incurred to maintain or replace the operating capacity of our fleet. These expenditures could vary significantly from quarter to quarter and could increase as a result of changes in:
|●||the cost of labor and materials;|
|●||the size of our fleet;|
|●||the cost of replacement vessels;|
|●||length of charters;|
|●||governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards relating to safety, security or the environment; and|
Our partnership agreement requires our board of directors to deduct estimated, rather than actual, maintenance and replacement capital expenditures from operating surplus each quarter in order to determine our distributable cash flow in an effort to reduce fluctuations in operating surplus (as defined in our partnership agreement). The amount of estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures deducted from operating surplus is subject to review and change by our board of directors and our conflicts committee at least once a year. In years when estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures are higher than actual maintenance and replacement capital expenditures, the amount of cash available for distribution to unitholders may be lower than if actual maintenance and replacement capital expenditures were deducted from operating surplus. If our board of directors underestimates the appropriate level of estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures, we may have less cash available for distribution in future periods when actual capital expenditures exceed our previous estimates.
If capital expenditures are financed through cash from operations or by issuing debt or equity securities, our ability to make cash distributions may be diminished, our financial leverage could increase, or our unitholders may be diluted.
Use of cash from operations to expand or maintain our fleet reduces cash available for distribution to unitholders. Our ability to obtain bank financing or to access the capital markets for future offerings may be limited by our financial condition at the time of any such financing or offering as well as by adverse market conditions resulting from, among other things, general economic conditions and contingencies and uncertainties that are beyond our control. Our failure to obtain the funds for future capital expenditures could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. Even if we are successful in obtaining necessary funds, the terms of such financings could limit our ability to pay cash distributions to unitholders. In addition, incurring additional debt may significantly increase our interest expense and financial leverage, and issuing additional equity securities may result in significant unitholder dilution and would increase the aggregate amount of cash required to maintain our current level of quarterly distributions to unitholders, both of which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to make cash distributions.
Our debt levels may limit our flexibility in obtaining additional financing, pursuing other business opportunities and paying distributions to our unitholders.
As of December 31, 2020, we had consolidated debt of approximately $1,030.3 million. We have the ability to incur additional debt. Please read “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources.” Our level of debt could have important consequences to us, including the following:
|●||our ability to obtain additional financing, if necessary, for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other purposes may be impaired, or such financing may not be available on favorable terms;|
|●||we will need a substantial portion of our cash flows to make principal and interest payments on our debt, reducing the funds that would otherwise be available for operations, future business opportunities and distributions to unitholders;|
|●||our debt level may make us more vulnerable than our competitors with less debt to competitive pressures or a downturn in our industry or the economy generally;|
|●||our debt level may limit our flexibility in responding to changing business and economic conditions; and|
|●||if we are unable to satisfy the restrictions included in any of our financing agreements or are otherwise in default under any of those agreements, as a result of our debt levels or otherwise, we will not be able to make cash distributions to our unitholders, notwithstanding our stated cash distribution policy.|
Our ability to service our debt depends upon, among other things, our future financial and operating performance, which is affected by prevailing economic conditions and financial, business, regulatory and other factors, some of which are beyond our control. If our operating results are not sufficient to service our current or future indebtedness, we will be forced to take actions such as reducing distributions, reducing or delaying our business activities, acquisitions, investments or capital expenditures, selling assets, restructuring or refinancing our debt, or seeking additional equity capital or bankruptcy protection. We may not be able to effect any of these remedies on satisfactory terms, or at all. In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak has negatively impacted, and may continue to negatively impact, global economic activity, demand for energy and shipping and funds flows and sentiment in the global financial markets. Continued economic disruption caused by the continued failure to control the spread of the virus could significantly impact our ability to obtain additional debt financing.
Financing agreements containing operating and financial restrictions may restrict our business and financing activities.
The operating and financial restrictions and covenants in our financing agreements and any future financing agreements could adversely affect our ability to finance future operations or capital needs or to engage, expand or pursue our business activities. For example, the financing agreements may restrict the ability of us and our subsidiaries to:
|●||incur or guarantee indebtedness;|
|●||change ownership or structure, including mergers, consolidations, liquidations and dissolutions;|
|●||make dividends or distributions;|
|●||make certain negative pledges and grant certain liens;|
|●||sell, transfer, assign or convey assets;|
|●||make certain investments; and|
|●||enter into a new line of business.|
In addition, our financing agreements require us to comply with certain financial ratios and tests, including, among others, maintaining a minimum liquidity, maintaining positive working capital, ensuring that EBITDA exceeds interest payable, maintaining a minimum collateral value, and maintaining a minimum book equity ratio. Our ability to comply with the restrictions and covenants, including financial ratios and tests, contained in our financing agreements is dependent on future performance and may be affected by events beyond our control, including prevailing economic, financial and industry conditions. If market or other economic conditions deteriorate, our ability to comply with these covenants may be impaired.
If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in the agreements governing our indebtedness or in current or future debt financing agreements, there could be a default under the terms of those agreements. If a default occurs under these agreements, lenders could terminate their commitments to lend and/or accelerate the outstanding loans and declare all amounts borrowed due and payable. This could lead to cross-defaults under other financing agreements and result in obligations becoming due and commitments being terminated under such agreements. We have pledged our vessels as security for our outstanding indebtedness. If our lenders were to foreclose on our vessels in the event of a default, this may adversely affect our ability to finance future operations or capital needs or to engage in, expand or pursue our business activities. If any of these events occur, we cannot guarantee that our assets will be sufficient to repay in full all of our outstanding indebtedness, and we may be unable to find alternative financing. Even if we could obtain alternative financing, that financing might not be on terms that are favorable or acceptable. Any of these events would adversely affect our ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders and cause a decline in the market price of our common units. Please read “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
Restrictions in our debt agreements may prevent us or our subsidiaries from paying distributions.
The payment of principal and interest on our debt reduces cash available for distribution to us and on our units. In addition, our and our subsidiaries’ financing agreements prohibit the payment of distributions upon the occurrence of the following events, among others:
|●||failure to pay any principal, interest, fees, expenses or other amounts when due;|
|●||failure to notify the lenders of any material oil spill or discharge of hazardous material, or of any action or claim related thereto;|
|●||breach or lapse of any insurance with respect to vessels securing the facilities;|
|●||breach of certain financial covenants;|
|●||failure to observe any other agreement, security instrument, obligation or covenant beyond specified cure periods in certain cases;|
|●||default under other indebtedness;|
|●||bankruptcy or insolvency events;|
|●||failure of any representation or warranty to be correct;|
|●||a change of ownership, as defined in the applicable agreement; and|
|●||a material adverse change, as defined in the applicable agreement.|
For more information regarding our financing agreements, please read “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
The failure to consummate or integrate acquisitions in a timely and cost-effective manner could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Acquisitions that expand our fleet are an important component of our strategy. We believe that acquisition opportunities may arise from time to time, and any such acquisition could be significant. Any acquisition of a vessel or business may not be profitable after the time of acquisition and may not generate cash flows sufficient to justify the investment. In addition, our acquisition growth strategy exposes us to risks that may harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders, including risks that we may:
|●||fail to realize anticipated benefits, such as new customer relationships, cost-savings or cash flow enhancements;|
|●||be unable to attract, hire, train or retain qualified shore and seafaring personnel to manage and operate our growing business and fleet;|
|●||decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of available cash or borrowing capacity to finance acquisitions;|
|●||significantly increase our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance acquisitions;|
|●||incur or assume unanticipated liabilities, losses or costs associated with the business or vessels acquired; or|
|●||incur other significant charges, such as impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets, asset devaluation or restructuring charges.|
In addition, unlike newbuilds, existing vessels typically do not carry warranties as to their condition. While we generally inspect existing vessels prior to purchase, such an inspection would normally not provide us with as much knowledge of a vessel’s condition as we would possess if it had been built for us and operated by us during its life. Repairs and maintenance costs for existing vessels are difficult to predict and may be substantially higher than for vessels we have operated since they were built. These costs could decrease our cash flows and reduce our liquidity.
Certain acquisition and investment opportunities may not result in the consummation of a transaction. In addition, we may not be able to obtain acceptable terms for the required financing for any such acquisition or investment that arises. We cannot predict the effect, if any, that any announcement or consummation of an acquisition would have on the trading price of our common units. Our future acquisitions could present a number of risks, including the risk of incorrect assumptions regarding the future results of acquired vessels or businesses or expected cost reductions or other synergies expected to be realized as a result of acquiring vessels or businesses, the risk of failing to successfully and timely integrate the operations or management of any acquired vessels or businesses and the risk of diverting management’s attention from existing operations or other priorities. We may also be subject to additional costs related to compliance with various international laws in connection with such acquisition. If we fail to consummate and integrate our acquisitions in a timely and cost-effective manner, our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash available for distribution could be adversely affected.
Our charters are subject to early termination under certain circumstances and any such termination could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and cash available for distribution to unitholders.
As of March 18, 2021, our fleet consists of seventeen shuttle tankers. If any of our vessels are unable to generate revenues as a result of the expiration or termination of its charter or sustained periods of off-hire time, our results of operations and financial condition could be materially adversely affected. Each of our charters terminates automatically if the applicable vessel is lost or missing or damage to the vessel results in a constructive total loss. The customer, under certain circumstances, may also have an option to terminate a time charter if the vessel is requisitioned by any government for a period of time in excess of the time period specified in the time charter or if at any time we are in default under the time charter. In addition, either party may usually terminate a charter in the event of the outbreak of war between specified countries. Under our bareboat charters, the charter is deemed terminated as of the date of any compulsory acquisition of the vessel or requisition for title by any governmental or other competent authority. For more information regarding the termination of our charters, please read “Item 4. Information on the Partnership—Business Overview—Charters—Termination.”
We may experience operational problems with vessels that reduce revenue and increase costs.
Shuttle tankers are complex and their operation is technically challenging. Marine transportation operations are subject to mechanical risks and problems. Operational problems may lead to loss of revenue or higher than anticipated operating expenses or require additional capital expenditures. Any of these results could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
We currently derive all of our time charter and bareboat revenues from seven customers, and the loss of any such customers could result in a significant loss of revenues and cash flow.
We currently derive all of our time charter and bareboat revenues from seven customers. For the year ended December 31, 2020, Brazil Shipping I Limited, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell ("Shell"), Eni Trading and Shipping S.p.A. ("ENI"), Fronape International Company, a subsidiary of Petrobras Transporte S.A. ("Transpetro"), Galp Sinopec Brazil Services B.V ("Galp"), Repsol Sinopec Brasil, S.A. ("Repsol"), Vår Energi Marine AS a Norwegian subsidiary of Vår Energi AS ("Vår") (a joint venture owned by ENI and a private equity investor) and Equinor Shipping Inc., a subsidiary of Equinor ASA (“Equinor”), accounted for approximately 28%, 16%, 16%, 13%, 12%, 7%, and 6%, respectively, of our revenues.
If we lose a key customer, we may be unable to obtain replacement long-term charters and may become subject to the volatile spot market, which is highly competitive and subject to significant price fluctuations. In addition, if a customer exercises its right to terminate a charter, we may be unable to re-charter such vessel on terms as favorable to us as those of the terminated charter. The loss of any of our key customers could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholder
Oil prices can be volatile, and this could affect the equity value of many of our customers. The combination of a reduction of cash flow resulting from lower prices, a reduction in borrowing under related credit facilities and the limited or lack of availability of debt or equity financing could potentially reduce the ability of our customers to make charter payments, which in turn could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. Additionally, at the end of a contractual term we could lose one or more of our customers due to a variety of causes unrelated to our performance, including changes in customers management or strategic exits from the offshore oil space or from regions in which we operate.
We depend on subsidiaries of KNOT to assist us in operating our businesses and competing in our markets.
We and our operating subsidiaries have entered into various services agreements with certain subsidiaries of KNOT, including KNOT Management. Under these agreements the subsidiaries provide us with certain administrative, financial and other services. Our operating subsidiaries are provided with substantially all of their crew, technical and commercial management services (including vessel maintenance, periodic drydocking, cleaning and painting, performing work required by regulations and human resources and financial services) and other advisory and technical services, including the sourcing of new contracts and renewals of existing contracts. Our operational success and ability to execute our growth strategy depends significantly upon the satisfactory performance of these services by the KNOT subsidiaries. Our business will be harmed if such subsidiaries fail to perform these services satisfactorily or if they stop providing these services to us or our operating subsidiaries.
Our ability to compete to enter into new charters and expand our customer relationships depends largely on our ability to leverage our relationship with KNOT and its reputation and relationships in the shipping industry. If KNOT suffers material damage to its reputation or relationships, it may harm the ability of us or our subsidiaries to:
|●||renew existing charters upon their expiration;|
|●||obtain new charters;|
|●||successfully contract with shipyards;|
|●||obtain financing on commercially acceptable terms; or|
|●||maintain satisfactory relationships with suppliers and other third parties.|
If our ability to do any of the things described above is impaired, it could have a materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Our growth depends on continued growth in demand for shuttle tanker transportation services.
Our growth strategy focuses on expansion in the shuttle tanker sector. Accordingly, our growth depends on continued growth in the demand for offshore oil transportation services. Factors beyond our control that affect the offshore oil transportation industry may have a significant impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. Fluctuations in the hire rate we can charge our customers result from changes in the supply of carrying capacity and demand for the crude oil carried. If a sustained period of reduced demand for crude oil and offshore oil transportation services were to occur it would have a material adverse effect on our future growth and could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition. The factors affecting supply and demand for shuttle tankers and supply and demand for crude oil transported by shuttle tankers are outside of our control, and the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable.
The factors that influence the demand for shuttle tanker capacity include, but are not limited to:
|●||changes in the actual or projected price of oil, which could impact the exploration for or development of new offshore oil fields or the production of oil at certain fields we service;|
|●||delayed production start on offshore fields under development;|
|●||levels of demand for and production of oil, which, among other things, is affected by competition from alternative sources of energy, other factors making consumption of oil more or less attractive or energy conservation measures;|
|●||changes in the production of oil in areas linked by pipelines to consuming areas, the extension of existing, or the development of new, pipeline systems in markets we may serve, or the conversion of existing non-oil pipelines to oil pipelines in those markets;|
|●||changes in laws and regulations affecting the shuttle tanker industry;|
|●||global and regional economic and political conditions, particularly in oil-consuming regions, as well as environmental concerns and regulations, which could impact the supply of oil and gas as well as the demand for various types of vessels; and|
|●||changes in trading patterns, including changes in the distances that cargoes are transported.|
The factors that influence the supply of shuttle tanker capacity include, but are not limited to:
|●||the number of deliveries of new vessels under construction or on order;|
|●||the scrapping rate of older vessels;|
|●||oil and gas company policy with respect to technical vessel requirements; and|
|●||the number of vessels that are off-hire.|
Declines in oil prices may adversely affect our growth prospects and results of operations.
If there is a persistent decline in oil prices, it may adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make cash distributions, as a result of, among other things:
|●||a reduction in exploration for or development of new offshore oil fields, or the delay or cancelation of existing offshore projects as energy companies lower their capital expenditures budgets, which may reduce our growth opportunities;|
|●||lower demand for shuttle tankers, which may reduce available charter rates and revenue to us upon redeployment of our vessels following expiration or termination of existing contracts or upon the initial chartering of vessels;|
|●||customers potentially seeking to renegotiate or terminate existing vessel contracts, or failing to extend or renew contracts upon expiration;|
|●||the inability or refusal of customers to make charter payments to us due to financial constraints or otherwise; or|
|●||declines in vessel values, which may result in losses to us upon vessel sales or impairment charges against our earnings.|
Adverse conditions in the global economy or financial markets may impair our customers’ and suppliers’ ability to pay for our services and could have a material adverse effect on our revenue, profitability and financial position.
We depend on our customers’ willingness and ability to fund operating and capital expenditures to provide crude oil shuttle tankers for new or expanding offshore projects. Existing and future adverse economic conditions, including low oil prices, may lead to a decline in our customers’ operations or ability to pay for our services, which could result in decreased demand for our vessels. There has historically been a strong link between the development of the world economy and demand for energy, including oil and natural gas. Particularly, an extended period of adverse development in the outlook for European countries or Brazil could reduce the overall demand for our vessels and have a negative impact on our customers. Potential developments, or market perceptions concerning these and related issues, could affect our business, financial position, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Global financial markets and economic conditions have been, and continue to be, volatile. Credit markets and the debt and equity capital markets have been distressed and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the global credit markets has previously resulted in reduced access to credit worldwide. Any global financial or credit crisis or disruption may further reduce the availability of liquidity and credit to fund the continuation and expansion of industrial business operations worldwide. Such deterioration of the worldwide economy could result in reduced demand for oil and natural gas, exploration and production activity and transportation of oil and natural gas that could lead to a decrease in the hire rate earned by our vessels and a decrease in new charter activity. In addition, any adverse development in the global financial markets or deterioration in economic conditions might adversely impact our ability to issue additional equity at prices that will not be dilutive to our existing unitholders or preclude us from issuing equity at all.
We also cannot be certain that additional financing will be available if needed and to the extent required, on acceptable terms or at all. As a result of the disruptions in the credit markets and higher capital requirements, many lenders have increased margins on lending rates, enacted tighter lending standards, required more restrictive terms (including higher collateral ratios for advances, shorter maturities and smaller loan amounts), or have refused to refinance existing debt at all. Furthermore, certain banks that have historically been significant lenders to the shipping industry have reduced or ceased lending activities in the shipping industry. If additional financing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our obligations as they come due or we may be unable to expand our existing business, complete shuttle tanker acquisitions or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities as they arise.
Furthermore, any uncertainty in the financial markets could have an impact on our customers and/or suppliers including, among other things, causing them to fail to meet their obligations to us. Similarly, any shortage of credit could affect lenders participating in our financing agreements, making them unable to fulfill their commitments and obligations to us. Any reductions in activity owing to such conditions or failure by our customers, suppliers or lenders to meet their contractual obligations to us could adversely affect our business, financial position, results of operation and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
The new economic and security relationship between the United Kingdom and the E.U. stemming from Brexit could adversely impact us.
On June 23, 2016, in a referendum vote commonly referred to as "Brexit," a majority of British voters voted to exit the European Union ("EU") and on January 31, 2020, the U.K. formally exited the EU. This resulted in a transition period that ended on December 31, 2020 during which the E.U.-U.K. trade relationship did not change. During the transition period, the E.U. and the U.K. negotiated their new economic and security relationship, including a new agreement on trade. The transition lasted until January 1, 2021, at which point a new trade agreement took effect. On December 24, 2020, the European Commission reached a trade agreement with the U.K. on the terms of its future cooperation with the E.U. (the “Trade Agreement”). The Trade Agreement offers U.K. and EU companies preferential access to each other’s markets, ensuring imported goods covered by the Agreement will generally be free of tariffs and quotas; however, economic relations between the U.K. and the EU will now be on more restricted terms than existed previously.
The Trade Agreement does not incorporate the full scope of the services sector, and businesses such as banking and finance face a further period of uncertainty. The U.K. and EU plan to put in place a regulatory dialogue on financial services based on a separate memorandum of understanding by March 2021. It is unclear what long-term economic, financial, trade and legal implications the withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU will have and how such withdrawal may affect our business.
Our growth depends on our ability to expand relationships with existing customers and obtain new customers, for which we face substantial competition.
One of our principal objectives is to enter into additional long-term, fixed-rate charters. The process of obtaining new long-term charters is highly competitive, usually involving an intensive screening process and competitive bids and extending for several months. Shuttle tanker charters are awarded based upon a variety of factors relating to the vessel operator, including:
|●||industry relationships and reputation for customer service and safety;|
|●||experience and quality of ship operations;|
|●||quality, experience and technical capability of the crew;|
|●||relationships with shipyards and the ability to get suitable berths;|
|●||construction management experience, including the ability to obtain on-time delivery of new vessels according to customer specifications;|
|●||willingness to accept operational risks pursuant to the charter, among other things such as allowing termination of the charter for force majeure events; and|
|●||competitiveness of the bid in terms of overall price.|
Our ability to win new charters depends upon a number of factors, including our ability to:
|●||leverage our relationship with KNOT and its reputation and relationships in the shipping industry;|
|●||successfully manage our liquidity and obtain the necessary financing to fund our growth;|
|●||attract, hire, train and retain qualified personnel and ship management companies to manage and operate our fleet;|
|●||identify and consummate desirable acquisitions, joint ventures or strategic alliances; and|
|●||identify and capitalize on opportunities in new markets.|
We expect substantial competition for providing services for potential shuttle tanker projects from a number of experienced companies. This increased competition may cause greater price competition for charters. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to expand our relationships with existing customers or to obtain new customers on a profitable basis, if at all, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
An increase in the global supply of shuttle tanker capacity without a commensurate increase in demand may have an adverse effect on hire rates and the values of our vessels, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
The supply of shuttle tankers in the industry is affected by, among other things, assessments of the demand for these vessels by oil companies. Any over-estimation of demand for vessels may result in an excess supply of new shuttle tankers. This may, in the long term when existing contracts expire, result in lower hire rates and depress the values of our vessels. In such an event, our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders may be adversely affected.
During periods of high utilization and high hire rates, industry participants may increase the supply of shuttle tankers by ordering the construction of new vessels. This may result in an over-supply of shuttle tankers and may cause a subsequent decline in utilization and hire rates when the vessels enter the market. Lower utilization and hire rates could adversely affect revenues and profitability. Prolonged periods of low utilization and hire rate could also result in the recognition of impairment charges on shuttle tankers if future cash flow estimates, based upon information available at the time, indicate that the carrying value of these shuttle tankers may not be recoverable. Such impairment charge may cause lenders to accelerate loan payments under our financing agreements, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
The required drydocking of our vessels could be more expensive and time consuming than we anticipate, which could adversely affect our cash available for distribution to unitholders.
We must periodically drydock each of our vessels for inspection, repairs and maintenance and any modifications required to comply with industry certification or governmental requirements. Generally, we drydock each vessel every 60 months until the vessel is 15 years old and every 30 months thereafter. The required drydocking of our vessels could be more expensive and time consuming than we anticipate, which could adversely affect our cash available for distribution. The drydocking of our vessels requires significant capital expenditures and results in loss of revenue while our vessels are off-hire. Any significant increase in the number of days of off-hire due to such drydocking or in the costs of any repairs could have a material adverse effect on our ability to pay distributions to our unitholders. Although we do not anticipate that more than one of the vessels in our current fleet will be out of service at any given time, we may underestimate the time required to drydock any of our vessels or unanticipated problems may arise. If more than one of our vessels is required to be out of service at the same time, if a vessel is drydocked longer than expected or if the cost of repairs during drydocking is greater than budgeted, our cash available for distribution to unitholders could be adversely affected.
We may be unable to re-charter our vessels upon termination or expiration of their existing charters.
We are dependent upon charters for our vessels to generate revenues and we may be adversely affected if we fail to renew or are unsuccessful in winning new charters, or if our existing charters are terminated. Our ability to re-charter our shuttle tankers following expiration of existing charters and the rates payable upon any renewal or replacement charters depends upon, among other things, the state of the shuttle tanker market. For example, an oversupply of shuttle tankers can significantly reduce their charter rates. A termination or renegotiation of our existing charters or a failure to secure new employment at the expiration of our current charters may have a negative effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Compliance with safety and other vessel requirements imposed by classification societies may be very costly and may adversely affect our business.
The hull and machinery of every large, oceangoing commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (“SOLAS”). All our vessels are certified either by DNV GL Group AS (“DNV GL”) or by the American Bureau of Shipping (“ABS”).
As part of the certification process, a vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel’s machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Each of the vessels in our existing fleet is on a planned maintenance system approval, and as such the classification society attends onboard once every year to verify that the maintenance of the equipment onboard is done correctly. Each of the vessels in our existing fleet is required to be qualified within its respective classification society for drydocking once every five years subject to an intermediate underwater survey done using an approved diving company in the presence of a surveyor from the classification society.
If any vessel does not maintain its class or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey or special survey, the vessel will be unable to trade between certain ports and will be unemployable. We would lose revenue while the vessel was off-hire and incur costs of compliance. This would negatively impact our revenues and reduce our cash available for distribution to unitholders.
The value of our vessels may decline, which could adversely affect our operating results.
Vessel values for shuttle tankers can fluctuate substantially over time due to a number of different factors, including:
|●||the cost of newbuildings;|
|●||prevailing economic conditions in oil and energy markets;|
|●||a substantial or extended decline in demand for oil;|
|●||increases in the supply of vessel capacity;|
|●||the cost of retrofitting or modifying existing vessels, as a result of technological advances in vessel design or equipment, changes in applicable environmental or other regulations or standards, or otherwise; and|
|●||a decrease in oil reserves in the fields and other fields in which our shuttle tankers might otherwise be deployed.|
If operation of a vessel is not profitable, or if we cannot redeploy a vessel at attractive rates upon termination of its charter, rather than continue to incur costs to maintain and finance the vessel, we may seek to dispose of it. Our inability to dispose of the vessel at a reasonable value could result in a loss on its sale and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. Additionally, lenders may accelerate loan repayments should there be a loss in the market value of our vessels. Such repayment could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Further, if we determine at any time that a vessel’s future useful life and earnings require us to impair its value on our financial statements, we may need to recognize a significant charge against our earnings. We review vessels and equipment for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying value of an asset may not be recoverable, which occurs when the asset’s carrying value is greater than the future undiscounted cash flows the asset is expected to generate over its remaining useful life.
Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations and markets.
Due to concern over the risk of climate change, a number of countries and the International Maritime Organization (the "IMO"), the United Nations agency that regulates international shipping, have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, regulatory frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vessels. These regulatory measures include, among others, adoption of cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards and incentives or mandates for renewable energy. The Paris Agreement, which was announced by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, does not cover international shipping. However, in 2018, the IMO adopted an initial strategy designed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from vessels, including short-term, mid-term and long-term candidate measures with a vision of reducing and phasing out greenhouse gas emissions from vessels as soon as possible in the 21st century (“IMO GHG Strategy”). In November 2020, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (“MEPC”) of the IMO agreed to draft amendments to Annex VI of the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”) that would establish an enforceable regulatory framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, consisting of technical and operational carbon reduction measures. These measures include use of an Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index, an operational Carbon Intensity Indicator and an enhanced Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan to drive reductions in the carbon intensity. This regulatory approach is consistent with the IMO GHG Strategy target of a 40% carbon intensity reduction for international shipping by 2030, as compared to 2008. The draft MARPOL Annex VI amendments will be proposed for formal adoption at the 2021 MEPC session and, once adopted, are expected to enter into force on January 1, 2023. Compliance with changes in laws, regulations and obligations relating to climate change could increase our costs related to operating and maintaining our vessels and require us to install new emission controls, acquire allowances or pay taxes related to our greenhouse gas emissions or administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program. Revenue generation and strategic growth opportunities may also be adversely affected.
Adverse effects upon the oil industry relating to climate change, including growing public concern about the environmental and other impacts of climate change, may also adversely affect demand for our shuttle tanker services. Although we do not expect that demand for oil will lessen dramatically over the short or mid-term, in the long-term climate change mitigation considerations may reduce the demand for oil and increased regulation of greenhouse gases may create greater incentives for use of alternative energy sources. Any long-term material adverse effect on the oil industry could have a significant financial and operational adverse impact on our business that we cannot predict with certainty at this time.
Our international operations expose us to political, governmental and economic instability, which could harm our operations.
Our operations are conducted in various countries, and they may be affected by economic, political and governmental conditions in the countries where we engage in business or where our vessels are registered. Any disruption caused by these factors could harm our business, including by reducing the levels of oil exploration, development and production activities in these areas. We may derive some of our revenues from shipping oil from politically unstable regions. Conflicts in these regions have included attacks on ships and other efforts to disrupt shipping. Hostilities or other political instability in regions where we operate or where we may operate could have a material adverse effect on the growth of our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. In addition, tariffs, trade embargoes and other economic sanctions by the United States or other countries as a result of terrorist attacks, hostilities or otherwise may limit trading activities with those countries, which could also harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. Finally, a government could requisition one or more of our vessels, which is most likely during war or national emergency. Any such requisition would cause a loss of the vessel and/or a termination of the charter and could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Marine transportation is inherently risky, particularly in the extreme conditions in which our vessels operate. An incident involving significant loss of product or environmental contamination by any of our vessels could harm our reputation and business.
Vessels and their cargoes and the oil production facilities we service are at risk of being damaged or lost because of events such as:
|●||grounding, capsizing, fire, explosions and collisions;|
|●||human error; and|
|●||war and terrorism.|
Harsh weather conditions in the North Sea and other regions in which our vessels operate may increase the risk of collisions, oil spills or mechanical failures.
An accident involving any of our vessels could result in any of the following:
|●||death or injury to persons, loss of property or damage to the environment and natural resources;|
|●||delays in the delivery of cargo;|
|●||loss of revenues from charters;|
|●||liabilities or costs to recover any spilled oil or other petroleum products and to restore the ecosystem affected by the spill;|
|●||governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business;|
|●||higher insurance rates; and|
|●||damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally.|
Any of these results could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. In addition, any damage to, or environmental contamination involving, oil production facilities serviced could suspend that service and result in loss of revenues.
Our insurance may not be sufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or as a result of our operations.
The operation of shuttle tankers is inherently risky. All risks may not be adequately insured against, and any particular claim may not be paid by insurance. Any claims relating to our operations covered by insurance would be subject to deductibles, and since it is possible that a large number of claims may be brought, the aggregate amount of these deductibles could be material. Certain insurance is maintained through mutual protection and indemnity associations (“P&I clubs”), and as a member of such associations we may be required to make additional payments over and above budgeted premiums if member claims exceed association reserves.
We may be unable to procure adequate insurance at commercially reasonable rates in the future. For example, more stringent environmental regulations have led in the past to increased costs for, and in the future may result in the lack of availability of, insurance against risks of environmental damage or pollution. A catastrophic oil spill or marine disaster could exceed the insurance, and any uninsured or underinsured loss could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders. In addition, the insurance may be voidable by the insurers as a result of certain actions, such as vessels failing to maintain certification with applicable maritime self-regulatory organizations.
Changes in the insurance markets attributable to terrorist attacks may also make certain types of insurance more difficult to obtain. In addition, the insurance that may be available may be significantly more expensive than existing coverage.
Terrorist attacks, piracy, increased hostilities or war could lead to further economic instability, increased costs and disruption of business.
Terrorist attacks, piracy and the current conflicts in the Middle East, and other current and future conflicts, may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to raise capital and future growth. Continuing hostilities in the Middle East may lead to additional armed conflicts or to further acts of terrorism and civil disturbance in the United States or elsewhere, which may contribute further to economic instability and disruption of oil production and distribution, which could result in reduced demand for our services.
In addition, oil production facilities, shipyards, vessels, pipelines, oil fields or other infrastructure could be targets of future terrorist attacks and our vessels could be targets of pirates or hijackers. Any such attacks could lead to, among other things, bodily injury or loss of life, vessel or other property damage, increased vessel operational costs, including insurance costs, and the inability to transport oil to or from certain locations. Terrorist attacks, war, piracy, hijacking or other events beyond our control that adversely affect the distribution, production or transportation of oil to be shipped by us could entitle customers to terminate their charters, which would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Acts of piracy have historically affected ocean-going vessels trading in regions of the world such as the South China Sea and the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. If such piracy attacks result in regions in which our vessels are deployed being named on the Joint War Committee Listed Areas, war-risk insurance premiums payable for such coverage could increase significantly and such insurance coverage might become more difficult to obtain. In addition, crew costs, including costs that may be incurred to the extent we employ onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, hijacking as a result of an act of piracy against our vessels, or an increase in cost or unavailability of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Vessels transporting oil are subject to substantial environmental and other regulations, which may significantly limit operations or increase expenses.
Our operations are affected by extensive and changing international, national and local environmental protection laws, regulations, treaties and conventions in force in international waters and the jurisdictional waters of the countries in which our vessels operate, as well as the countries of our vessels’ registration, including those governing oil spills, air emissions, discharges to water and the handling and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. Many of these requirements are designed to reduce the risk of oil spills and other pollution. Additional requirements may take effect or be adopted in the future that could limit operations or further increase expenses. For example, under IMO’s MARPOL Annex VI, effective January 1, 2020, absent the installation of expensive sulfur scrubbers to meet reduced emission requirements for sulfur, the maximum sulfur content in fuels used by the marine sector in all seas, including our vessels, was lowered from 3.5% to 0.5% sulfur. These low sulfur fuel requirements are generally referred to as IMO 2020.
In addition, we believe that the heightened environmental, safety and security concerns of insurance underwriters, regulators and charterers will generally lead to additional regulatory requirements, including enhanced risk assessment and security requirements and greater inspection and safety requirements on vessels. These requirements are likely to add incremental costs to our operations and the failure to comply with these requirements may affect the ability of our vessels to obtain the required certificates for entry into the different ports where we operate and could also impact our ability to obtain insurance. We expect to incur substantial expenses in complying with these laws and regulations, including expenses for vessel modifications and changes in operating procedures.
These requirements can affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels, require a reduction in cargo capacity, ship modifications or operational changes or restrictions, lead to decreased availability of insurance coverage for environmental matters or result in the denial of access to certain jurisdictional waters or ports or detention in certain ports.
Under local, national and foreign laws, as well as international treaties and conventions, we could incur material liabilities, including cleanup obligations, natural resource damage claims and fines and penalties in the event that there is a release of petroleum or hazardous substances from our vessels or otherwise in connection with our operations. We could also become subject to personal injury or property damage claims relating to the release of petroleum or hazardous substances associated with our operations. In addition, oil spills and failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in administrative and civil penalties, criminal sanctions or the suspension or termination of our operations, including, in certain instances, seizure or detention of our vessels. Please read “Item 4. Information on the Partnership—Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulation.”
Exposure to currency exchange rate fluctuations results in fluctuations in cash flows and operating results.
Our reporting currency and the functional currency of our operating subsidiaries is the U.S. Dollar. Certain of our operating subsidiaries are party to technical management agreements with KNOT Management, which govern the crew, technical and commercial management of the vessels in our fleet. Under the technical management agreements, KNOT Management is paid for reasonable direct and indirect expenses incurred in providing the services, including operating expenses relating to our fleet. A majority of the operating expenses are in currencies other than the U.S. Dollar. Fluctuating exchange rates may result in increased payments by us under the services agreements if the strength of the U.S. Dollar declines relative to such other currencies.
Many seafaring employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements and the failure to renew those agreements or any future labor agreements may disrupt operations and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
A significant portion of seafarers that crew certain of our vessels are employed under collective bargaining agreements. We and our operating subsidiaries may become subject to additional labor agreements in the future. We and our operating subsidiaries may suffer labor disruptions if relationships deteriorate with the seafarers or the unions that represent them. The collective bargaining agreements may not prevent labor disruptions, particularly when the agreements are being renegotiated. Salaries for seafarers are typically renegotiated annually or bi-annually, and higher compensation levels will increase our costs of operations. Although these negotiations have not caused labor disruptions in the past, any future labor disruptions could harm our operations and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
KNOT may on our behalf be unable to attract and retain qualified, skilled employees or crew necessary to operate our business or may have to pay substantially increased costs for its employees and crew, including due to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Our success depends in large part on KNOT’s ability to attract, hire, train and retain highly skilled and qualified personnel. In crewing our vessels, we require technically skilled employees with specialized training who can perform physically demanding work. Competition to attract, hire, train and retain qualified crew members is intense, and crew manning costs continue to increase. If we are not able to increase our hire rates to compensate for any crew cost increases, our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders
may be adversely affected. Furthermore, should there be an outbreak of COVID-19 on board, adequate crewing my not be available to fulfill the obligations under our contracts. Due to COVID-19, we could face (i) difficulty in finding healthy qualified replacement officers and crew; (ii) local or international transport or quarantine restrictions limiting the ability to transfer infected crew members off the vessel or bring new crew on board, or (iii) restrictions in availability of supplies needed on board due to disruptions to third-party suppliers or transportation alternatives. Any inability we experience in the future to attract, hire, train and retain a sufficient number of qualified employees could impair our ability to manage, maintain and grow our business.
Maritime claimants could arrest our vessels, which could interrupt our cash flow.
If we are in default on some kinds of obligations, such as those to our lenders, crew members, suppliers of goods and services to our vessels or shippers of cargo, these parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against one or more of our vessels. In many jurisdictions, a maritime lien holder may enforce its lien by arresting a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. In a few jurisdictions, claimants could try to assert “sister ship” liability against one vessel in our fleet for claims relating to another of our vessels. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our cash flows and require us to pay to have the arrest lifted. Under some of our present charters, if the vessel is arrested or detained as a result of a claim against us, we may be in default of our charter and the charterer may terminate the charter. This would negatively impact our revenues and reduce our cash available for distribution to unitholders.
Lack of diversification and adverse developments in the shuttle tanker market or the conventional oil tanker market would negatively impact our results.
Although our vessels are also able to operate as conventional oil tankers, we are focused on dynamic positioning shuttle tankers. Due to our lack of diversification, any adverse development in the shuttle tanker market and/or the conventional oil tanker market could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
If in the future our business activities involve countries, entities and individuals that are subject to restrictions imposed by the U.S. or other governments, we could be subject to enforcement action and our reputation and the market for our common units could be adversely affected.
The tightening of U.S. sanctions in recent years has affected non-U.S. companies. In particular, sanctions against Iran have been significantly expanded. In 2012, for example, the U.S. signed into law the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (“TRA”), which placed further restrictions on the ability of non-U.S. companies to do business or trade with Iran and Syria. A major provision in the TRA is that issuers of securities must disclose to the SEC in their annual and quarterly reports filed after February 6, 2013 if the issuer or “any affiliate” has “knowingly” engaged in certain activities involving Iran during the timeframe covered by the report. This disclosure obligation is broad in scope in that it requires the reporting of activity that would not be considered a violation of U.S. sanctions as well as violative conduct and is not subject to a materiality threshold. The SEC publishes these disclosures on its website and the President of the United States must initiate an investigation in response to all disclosures.
In addition to the sanctions against Iran, the U.S. also has sanctions that target other countries, entities and individuals. These sanctions have certain extraterritorial effects that need to be considered by non-U.S. companies. It should also be noted that other governments have implemented versions of U.S. sanctions. We believe that we are in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations imposed by the U.S., the United Nations or EU countries and intend to maintain such compliance. However, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation could result in fines or other penalties and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in our common units. Additionally, some investors may decide to divest their interest, or not to invest, in our common units simply because we may do business with companies that do business in sanctioned countries. Investor perception of the value of our common units may also be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries.
Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act, the anti-corruption provisions in the Norwegian Criminal Code and other anti-bribery legislation in other jurisdictions could result in fines, criminal penalties, contract termination and an adverse effect on our business.
We may operate in a number of countries throughout the world, including countries known to have a reputation for corruption. We are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws and have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics. We are subject, however, to the risk that we, our affiliated entities or our or their respective officers, directors, employees and agents may take actions determined to be in violation of anti-corruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, the Bribery Act 2010 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and the anti-corruption provisions of the Norwegian Criminal Code of 1902. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties, curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions, and might adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations is expensive and could consume significant time and attention of our senior management.
A cyber-attack could materially disrupt our business.
We rely on information technology systems and networks, the majority of which are provided by KNOT Management, in our operations and the administration of our business. Our operations could be targeted by individuals or groups seeking to sabotage or disrupt our information technology systems and networks, or to steal data. A successful cyber-attack could materially disrupt our operations, including the safety of our operations, or lead to unauthorized release of information or alteration of information on our systems. Any such attack or other breach of our information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition, our reputation, or cash flows. We may be required to incur additional costs to modify or enhance our information technology systems or to prevent or remediate any such attacks.
Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws, directives and regulations regarding privacy and data protection.
We are subject to laws, directives, and regulations relating to the collection, use, retention, disclosure, security and transfer of personal data (“data protection laws”). These data protection laws, and their interpretation and enforcement, continue to evolve and may be inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which regulates the use of personally identifiable information, went into effect in the EU (“EU”) on May 25, 2018, applies globally to all of our activities conducted from an establishment in the EU, to related products and services that we offer to EU customers and to non-EU customers which offer services in the EU. Complying with the GDPR and similar emerging and changing data protection laws may cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices. Noncompliance, or perceived noncompliance, with our legal obligations relating to data protection laws could result in penalties, fines, legal proceedings by governmental entities or others, loss of reputation, legal claims by individuals and customers and significant legal and financial exposure and could affect our ability to retain and attract customers. As noted above, we are also subject to the possibility of cyber attacks, which themselves may result in a violation of these laws.
Risks Inherent in an Investment in Us
KNOT and its affiliates may compete with us.
Pursuant to the omnibus agreement we entered into with KNOT at the time of our IPO (the “Omnibus Agreement”), KNOT and its controlled affiliates (other than us, our general partner and our subsidiaries) generally have agreed not to acquire, own, operate or charter certain shuttle tankers operating under charters of five years or more. The Omnibus Agreement, however, contains significant exceptions that may allow KNOT or any of its controlled affiliates to compete with us, which could harm our business. Please read “Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—Related Party Transactions—Omnibus Agreement—Noncompetition.”
Unitholders have limited voting rights, and our partnership agreement restricts the voting rights of Norwegian Resident Holders and unitholders owning more than 4.9% of our common units.
Unlike the holders of common stock in a corporation, holders of common units have only limited voting rights on matters affecting our business. We hold a meeting of the limited partners every year to elect one or more members of our board of directors and to vote on any other matters that are properly brought before the meeting. Common unitholders are entitled to elect only four of the seven members of our board of directors. The elected directors are elected on a staggered basis and generally serve for four-year terms. Our general partner in its sole discretion appoints the remaining three directors and sets the terms for which those directors serve. Our partnership agreement also contains provisions limiting the ability of unitholders to call meetings or to acquire information about our operations, as well as other provisions limiting our unitholders’ ability to influence the manner or direction of management. Unitholders have no right to elect our general partner, and our general partner may not be removed except by a vote of the holders of at least 662/3% of the outstanding common units, including any units owned by our general partner and its affiliates, voting together as a single class.
Our partnership agreement further restricts unitholders’ voting rights by providing that Norwegian Resident Holders are not eligible to vote in the election of elected directors. Further, if any person or group owns beneficially more than 4.9% of any class of units then outstanding, any such units owned by that person or group in excess of 4.9% may not be voted on any matter and are not considered to be outstanding when sending notices of a meeting of unitholders, calculating required votes (except for purposes of nominating a person for election to our board of directors), determining the presence of a quorum or for other similar purposes, unless required by law. The voting rights of any unitholders not entitled to vote on a specific matter are effectively redistributed pro rata among the other common unitholders. Our general partner, its affiliates and persons who acquire common units with the prior approval of our board of directors are not subject to the 4.9% limitation except with respect to voting their common units in the election of the elected directors.
KNOT and its affiliates own a substantial interest in us and have conflicts of interest and limited fiduciary and contractual duties to us and our common unitholders, which may permit them to favor their own interests to the detriment of our unitholders.
As of March 18, 2021, KNOT owned 26.2% of our common units and owned and controlled our general partner, which owns a 1.85% general partner interest in us and 0.3% of our common units. Certain of our directors are directors of KNOT or its affiliates, and, as such, they have fiduciary duties to KNOT or its affiliates that may cause them to pursue business strategies that disproportionately benefit KNOT or its affiliates or which otherwise are not in the best interests of us or our unitholders. Conflicts of interest may arise between KNOT and its affiliates (including our general partner), on the one hand, and us and our unitholders, on the other hand. As a result of these conflicts, our general partner and its affiliates may favor their own interests over the interests of our unitholders. Please read “—Our partnership agreement limits our general partner’s and our directors’ fiduciary duties to our unitholders and restricts the remedies available to unitholders for actions taken by our general partner or our directors.” These conflicts include, among others, the following situations:
|●||neither our partnership agreement nor any other agreement requires our general partner or KNOT or its affiliates to pursue a business strategy that favors us or utilizes our assets, and KNOT’s officers and directors have a fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interests of the shareholders of KNOT, which may be contrary to our interests;|
|●||our partnership agreement permits our general partner to make a number of decisions in its individual capacity, as opposed to in its capacity as our general partner. Specifically, our general partner is considered to be acting in its individual capacity if it exercises its call right, pre-emptive rights or registration rights, consents or withholds consent to any merger or consolidation of the Partnership, appoints any directors or votes for the election of any director, votes or refrains from voting on amendments to our partnership agreement that require a vote of the outstanding units, voluntarily withdraws from the Partnership, transfers (to the extent permitted under our partnership agreement) or refrains from transferring its units or general partner interest or votes upon the dissolution of the Partnership;|
|●||our general partner and our directors have limited their liabilities and reduced their fiduciary duties under the laws of the Marshall Islands, while also restricting the remedies available to our unitholders, and, as a result of purchasing common units, unitholders are treated as having agreed to the modified standard of fiduciary duties and to certain actions that may be taken by our general partner and our directors, all as set forth in our partnership agreement;|
|●||our general partner is entitled to reimbursement of all reasonable costs incurred by it and its affiliates for our benefit;|
|●||our partnership agreement does not restrict us from paying our general partner or its affiliates for any services rendered to us on terms that are fair and reasonable or entering into additional contractual arrangements with any of these entities on our behalf;|
|●||our general partner may exercise its right to call and purchase our common units if it and its affiliates own more than 80.0% of our common units; and|
|●||our general partner is not obligated to obtain a fairness opinion regarding the value of the common units to be repurchased by it upon the exercise of its limited call right.|
Although a majority of our directors have been elected by common unitholders, our general partner has substantial influence on decisions made by our board of directors. Please read “Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions.”
Our partnership agreement limits our general partner’s and our directors’ fiduciary duties to our unitholders and restricts the remedies available to unitholders for actions taken by our general partner or our directors.
Our partnership agreement provides that our general partner irrevocably delegates to our board of directors the authority to oversee and direct our operations, management and policies on an exclusive basis, and such delegation is binding on any successor general partner of the Partnership. Our partnership agreement also contains provisions that reduce the standards to which our general partner and directors would otherwise be held by Marshall Islands law. For example, our partnership agreement:
|●||permits our general partner to make a number of decisions in its individual capacity, as opposed to in its capacity as our general partner. Where our partnership agreement permits, our general partner may consider only the interests and factors that it desires, and in such cases it has no fiduciary duty or obligation to give any consideration to any interest of, or factors affecting us, our affiliates or our unitholders. Decisions made by our general partner in its individual capacity are made by its board of directors, which is appointed by KNOT. Specifically, pursuant to our partnership agreement, our general partner is considered to be acting in its individual capacity if it exercises its call right, pre-emptive rights or registration rights, consents or withholds consent to any merger or consolidation of the Partnership, appoints any directors or votes for the election of any director, votes or refrains from voting on amendments to our partnership agreement that require a vote of the outstanding units, voluntarily withdraws from the Partnership, transfers (to the extent permitted under our partnership agreement) or refrains from transferring its units or general partner interest or votes upon the dissolution of the Partnership;|
|●||provides that our general partner and our directors are entitled to make other decisions in “good faith” if they reasonably believe that the decision is in our best interests;|
|●||generally provides that affiliated transactions and resolutions of conflicts of interest not approved by the conflicts committee of our board of directors and not involving a vote of unitholders must be on terms no less favorable to us than those generally being provided to or available from unrelated third parties or be “fair and reasonable” to us and that, in determining whether a transaction or resolution is “fair and reasonable,” our board of directors may consider the totality of the relationships between the parties involved, including other transactions that may be particularly advantageous or beneficial to us; and|
|●||provides that neither our general partner nor our officers or our directors is liable for monetary damages to us, our limited partners or assignees for any acts or omissions unless there has been a final and non-appealable judgment entered by a court of competent jurisdiction determining that our general partner or our officers or directors or those other persons engaged in actual fraud or willful misconduct.|
In order to become a limited partner of our partnership, a common unitholder is required to agree to be bound by the provisions in our partnership agreement, including the provisions discussed above.
Our partnership agreement provides that our general partner delegates all its management activities in relation to us to our board of directors, and arrangements are in place such that any activities that would otherwise constitute regulated activities under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities Order) 2001 were they to be performed in the United Kingdom (and that would not fall within a suitable exemption) are performed outside of the United Kingdom.
However, there can be no assurance that this will not change (deliberately or otherwise) over time, and there is no current intention for our general partner, us or any of our subsidiaries to seek authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom, which would be required for any person to lawfully carry out such regulated activities in the United Kingdom.
Fees and cost reimbursements, which affiliates of KNOT determine for services provided to us and our subsidiaries, are substantial, payable regardless of our profitability and reduce our cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Pursuant to technical management agreements, our subsidiaries that own vessels operating under time charters pay fees for services provided to them by KNOT Management and reimburse KNOT Management for all expenses incurred on their behalf. These fees and expenses include all costs and expenses incurred in providing the crew, technical and commercial management of the vessels in our fleet to our subsidiaries. Additionally our subsidiaries that own vessels operating under bareboat charters have entered into management and administration agreements with either KNOT Management or KNOT Management Denmark pursuant to which these companies provide general monitoring services for the vessels in exchange for an annual fee.
In addition, pursuant to an administrative services agreement, KNOT UK provides us with certain administrative services. KNOT UK is permitted to subcontract certain of the administrative services provided to us under this agreement to KOAS UK, KOAS and KNOT Management. We reimburse KNOT UK, and KNOT UK reimburses KOAS UK, KOAS and KNOT Management, as applicable, for their reasonable costs and expenses incurred in connection with the provision of the services subcontracted to KOAS UK, KOAS and KNOT Management under the administrative services agreement. In addition, KNOT UK pays to KOAS UK, KOAS and KNOT Management, as applicable, a service fee in U.S. Dollars equal to 5% of the costs and expenses incurred in connection with providing services.
For a description of the technical management agreements, management and administration agreements and the administrative services agreement, please read “Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions.” The fees and expenses payable pursuant to the technical management agreements, management and administration agreements and the administrative services agreement are payable without regard to our business, results of operation and financial condition. The payment of fees to and the reimbursement of expenses of affiliates of KNOT could adversely affect our ability to pay cash distributions to our unitholders.
Our partnership agreement contains provisions that may have the effect of discouraging a person or group from attempting to remove our current management or our general partner, and even if public unitholders are dissatisfied, they are unable to remove our general partner without KNOT’s consent, unless KNOT’s ownership interest in us is decreased, all of which could diminish the trading price of our common units.
Our partnership agreement contains provisions that may have the effect of discouraging a person or group from attempting to remove our current management or our general partner.
|●||If our general partner is removed without “cause” and units held by our general partner and KNOT are not voted in favor of that removal, our general partner has the right to convert its general partner interest, and the holders of the incentive distribution rights have the right to convert such incentive distribution rights, into common units or to receive cash in exchange for those interests based on the fair market value of those interests at the time. Any conversion of the general partner interest or incentive distribution rights would be dilutive to existing unitholders. Furthermore, any cash payment in lieu of such conversion could be prohibitively expensive. “Cause” is narrowly defined to mean that a court of competent jurisdiction has entered a final, non-appealable judgment finding our general partner liable for actual fraud or willful or wanton misconduct in its capacity as our general partner. Cause does not include most cases of charges of poor business decisions, such as charges of poor management of our business by the directors appointed by our general partner.|
|●||Common unitholders are entitled to elect only four of the seven members of our board of directors. Our general partner in its sole discretion appoints the remaining three directors.|
|●||Election of the four directors elected by common unitholders is staggered, meaning that the members of only one of four classes of our elected directors are selected each year. In addition, the directors appointed by our general partner serve for terms determined by our general partner.|
|●||Our partnership agreement contains provisions limiting the ability of unitholders to call meetings of unitholders, to nominate directors and to acquire information about our operations as well as other provisions limiting our unitholders’ ability to influence the manner or direction of management.|
Unitholders’ voting rights are further restricted by our partnership agreement provision providing that if any person or group owns beneficially more than 4.9% of any class of units then outstanding, any such units owned by that person or group in excess of 4.9% may not be voted on any matter and are not considered to be outstanding when sending notices of a meeting of unitholders, calculating required votes (except for purposes of nominating a person for election to our board of directors), determining the presence of a quorum or for other similar purposes, unless required by law. The voting rights of any such unitholders in excess of 4.9% effectively are redistributed pro rata among the other common unitholders holding less than 4.9% of the voting power of all classes of units entitled to vote. Our general partner, its affiliates and persons who acquire common units with the prior approval of our board of directors are not subject to this 4.9% limitation except with respect to voting their common units in the election of the elected directors.
|●||There are no restrictions in our partnership agreement on our ability to issue equity securities.|
The effect of these provisions may be to diminish the price at which the common units trade.
The control of our general partner may be transferred to a third party without unitholder consent.
Our general partner may transfer its general partner interest to a third party in a merger or in a sale of all or substantially all of its assets without the consent of our unitholders. In addition, our partnership agreement does not restrict the ability of the members of our general partner from transferring their respective membership interests in our general partner to a third party.
Substantial future sales of our common units or the issuance of additional preferred units in the public market could cause the price of our common units to fall.
The market price of our common units could decline due to sales of a large number of units, or the issuance of debt securities or warrants, in the market, or the perception that these sales could occur. These sales could also make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and price that we deem appropriate to raise funds through future offerings of common units.
We have granted registration rights to KNOT and certain of its affiliates. These unitholders have the right, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering any of our common or other equity securities owned by them or to include those securities in registration statements that we may file for ourselves or other unitholders. As of March 18, 2021, KNOT and our general partner owned 26.5% of the common units and all of the incentive distribution rights. We have also entered into a registration rights agreement with the holders of the Series A Preferred Units, pursuant to which we filed a registration statement to register resales of the common units underlying the Series A Preferred Units. Following their sale, these securities will become freely tradable. By exercising their registration rights and selling a large number of common units or other securities, our securityholders with registration rights could cause the price of our common units to decline.
Our common units are subordinated to our existing and future indebtedness and our Series A Preferred Units.
Our common units are equity interests in us and do not constitute indebtedness. The common units rank junior to all indebtedness and other non-equity claims on us with respect to the assets available to satisfy claims, including a liquidation of the Partnership. Additionally, holders of the common units are subject to the prior distribution and liquidation rights of the holders of the Series A Preferred Units and any other preferred units we may issue in the future.
As long as our outstanding Series A Preferred Units remain outstanding, distribution payments relating to our common units are prohibited under our partnership agreement until all accrued and unpaid distributions are paid on the Series A Preferred Units.
KNOT, as the holder of all of the incentive distribution rights, may elect to cause us to issue additional common units to it in connection with a resetting of the target distribution levels related to its incentive distribution rights without the approval of the conflicts committee of our board of directors or holders of our common units. This may result in lower distributions to holders of our common units in certain situations.
KNOT, as the holder of all of the incentive distribution rights, has the right, at a time when it has received incentive distributions at the highest level to which it is entitled (48.0%) for each of the prior four consecutive fiscal quarters, to reset the initial cash target distribution levels at higher levels based on the distribution at the time of the exercise of the reset election. Following a reset election by KNOT, the minimum quarterly distribution will be reset to an amount equal to the average cash distribution per common unit for the two fiscal quarters immediately preceding the reset election (such amount is referred to as the “reset minimum quarterly distribution”), and the target distribution levels will be reset to correspondingly higher levels based on the same percentage increases above the reset minimum quarterly distribution.
In connection with resetting these target distribution levels, KNOT will be entitled to receive a number of common units equal to that number of common units whose aggregate quarterly cash distributions equaled the average of the distributions to it on the incentive distribution rights in the prior two quarters. We anticipate that KNOT would exercise this reset right in order to facilitate acquisitions or internal growth projects that would not be sufficiently accretive to cash distributions per common unit without such conversion; however, it is possible that KNOT could exercise this reset election at a time when it is experiencing, or may be expected to experience, declines in the cash distributions it receives related to its incentive distribution rights and may therefore desire to be issued our common units, rather than retain the right to receive incentive distributions based on the initial target distribution levels. As a result, a reset election may cause our common unitholders to experience dilution in the amount of cash distributions that they would have otherwise received had we not issued additional common units to KNOT in connection with resetting the target distribution levels related to KNOT’s incentive distribution rights. Please read “Item 8. Financial Information—Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Our Cash Distribution Policy—Incentive Distribution Rights.”
We may issue additional equity securities, including a limited amount of securities senior to the common units, without the approval of our unitholders, which would dilute their ownership interests.
We may, without the approval of our unitholders, issue an unlimited number of additional common units. In addition, we may issue units that are senior to the common units in right of distribution, liquidation and voting, provided that the aggregate amount of our Series A Preferred Units and any other securities on parity with the Series A Preferred Units, pro forma for such issuance, does not exceed 33.33% of the book value of the sum of our then outstanding
aggregate amount of parity securities and junior securities (including the common units). The consent of the holders of the Series A Preferred Units will be necessary for us to issue any parity securities (or securities senior to our Series A Preferred Units) in excess of such pro forma book value.
The issuance by us of additional common units or other equity securities of equal or senior rank will have the following effects:
|●||our unitholders’ proportionate ownership interest in us will decrease;|
|●||the amount of cash available for distribution on each unit may decrease;|
|●||the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding unit may be diminished; and|
|●||the market price of the common units may decline.|
A substantial number of our common units may be issued upon conversion of our Series A Preferred Units or as redemption payments in respect of our Series A Preferred Units, which issuances could reduce the value of our common units.
Our Series A Preferred Units are convertible, under certain circumstances, at the applicable conversion rate, which is subject to adjustment under certain circumstances. The conversion rate will be redetermined on a quarterly basis, such that the conversion rate will be equal to $24.00 (the “Issue Price”) divided by the product of (x) the book value per common unit at the end of the immediately preceding quarter (pro-forma for per unit cash distributions payable with respect to such quarter) multiplied by (y) the quotient of (i) the Issue Price divided by (ii) the book value per common unit on the initial issuance date of the Series A Preferred Units.
The Series A Preferred Units are generally convertible, at the option of the holders of the Series A Preferred Units, into common units at the then applicable conversion rate. In addition, we may redeem the Series A Preferred Units at any time before February 2, 2027 at the redemption price applicable on any such redemption date, provided, however, that upon notice from us to the holders of Series A Preferred Units or our intention to redeem, such holders may elect, instead, to convert their Series A Preferred Units into common units at the then applicable conversion rate. In addition, subject to certain conditions, we may convert the Series A Preferred Units into common units at the then applicable conversion rate. Upon a change of control of the Partnership, the holders of Series A Preferred Units may require us to redeem the Series A Preferred Units, in cash, at 100% of the Issue Price. Further, the holders of Series A Preferred Units may cause us to redeem the Series A Preferred Units on February 2, 2027 in, at our option, (i) cash at a price equal to 70% of the Issue Price or (ii) common units such that each Series A Preferred Unit receives common units worth 80% of the Issue Price. The value (and, therefore, the number) of the common units to be delivered pursuant thereto will be determined based on the volume-weighted average trading price, as adjusted for splits, combinations and other similar transactions, of our common units as reported on the NYSE for the 30-trading day period ending on the fifth trading day immediately prior to the redemption date.
If a substantial portion of the Series A Preferred Units are converted into common units or redeemed under certain circumstances, common unitholders could experience significant dilution. Furthermore, if holders of such Series A Preferred Units were to dispose of a substantial portion of these common units in the public market following such a conversion, whether in a single transaction or series of transactions, it could adversely affect the market price for our common units. These sales, or the possibility that these sales may occur, could make it more difficult for us to sell our common units in the future.
The number of our common units issuable upon conversion or redemption under certain circumstances of the Series A Preferred Units will be impacted by, among other things, the level of our quarterly cash distributions, as the conversion rate is redetermined each quarter, based on the pro forma per unit cash distributions we make on our common units (as described above) and the market price of our common units. Accordingly, the number of common units issuable upon conversion or redemption under certain circumstances could be substantial, especially during periods of significant declines in market prices of our common units or if we experience certain events, such as, among other things, a decline
in the value of our vessels that results in an impairment or write-down of the value of our vessels or a write-off of any goodwill, decline in the fair value of our derivative instruments, change in accounting principle that results in a decline in our book value, or other event that results in a decline in our book value.
The issuance of common units upon conversion or redemption under certain circumstances of our Series A Preferred Units may have the following effects:
|●||an existing unitholder’s proportionate ownership interest in us will decrease;|
|●||the amount of cash available for distribution on each common unit may decrease;|
|●||the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding common unit may be diminished; and|
|●||the market price of our common units may decline.|
The market price of our common units is likely to be influenced by the Series A Preferred Units. For example, the market price of our common units could become more volatile and could be depressed by:
|●||investors’ anticipation of the potential resale in the market of a substantial number of additional common units received upon conversion of the Series A Preferred Units;|
|●||possible sales of our common units by investors who view the Series A Preferred Units as a more attractive means of equity participation in us than owning our common units; and|
|●||hedging or arbitrage trading activity that may develop involving the Series A Preferred Units and our common units.|
Our Series A Preferred Units have rights, preferences and privileges that are not held by, and are preferential to the rights of, holders of our common units.
Our Series A Preferred Units rank senior to all our common units with respect to distribution rights and liquidation preference. These preferences could adversely affect the market price for our common units or could make it more difficult for us to sell our common units in the future.
In addition, distributions on the Series A Preferred Units accrue and are cumulative. Our obligation to pay distributions on our Series A Preferred Units, or on the common units issued following conversion of such Series A Preferred Units, could impact our liquidity and reduce the amount of cash flow available for working capital, capital expenditures, growth opportunities, acquisitions, and other general partnership purposes. Our obligations to the holders of Series A Preferred Units could also limit our ability to obtain additional financing or increase our borrowing costs, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition.
In establishing cash reserves, our board of directors may reduce the amount of cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Our partnership agreement requires our board of directors to deduct from operating surplus cash reserves that it determines are necessary to fund our future operating expenditures. These reserves also affect the amount of cash available for distribution to our unitholders. As described above in “—Risks Inherent in Our Business—We must make substantial capital expenditures to maintain the operating capacity of our fleet, which reduces cash available for distribution. In addition, each quarter we are required to deduct estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures from operating surplus in order to determine our distributable cash flow, which may result in less cash available to unitholders than if actual maintenance and replacement capital expenditures were deducted,” our partnership agreement requires our board of directors each quarter to deduct from operating surplus estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures, as opposed to actual maintenance and replacement capital expenditures, which could reduce the amount of available cash for distribution. The amount of estimated maintenance and replacement capital
expenditures deducted from operating surplus is subject to review and change by our board of directors at least once a year, provided that any change must be approved by the conflicts committee of our board of directors.
Our general partner has a limited call right that may require our unitholders to sell their common units at an undesirable time or price.
If at any time our general partner and its affiliates own more than 80.0% of the common units, our general partner has the right, which it may assign to any of its affiliates or to us, but not the obligation, to acquire all, but not less than all, of the common units held by unaffiliated persons at a price not less than the then-current market price of our common units. Our general partner is not obligated to obtain a fairness opinion regarding the value of the common units to be repurchased by it upon the exercise of this limited call right. As a result, our unitholders may be required to sell their common units at an undesirable time or price and may not receive any return on their investment. Our unitholders may also incur a tax liability upon a sale of their units.
As of March 18, 2021, KNOT and our general partner owned 26.5% of our common units.
Our unitholders may not have limited liability if a court finds that unitholder action constitutes control of our business.
As a limited partner in a partnership organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands, our unitholders could be held liable for our obligations to the same extent as a general partner if our unitholders participate in the “control” of our business. Our general partner generally has unlimited liability for the obligations of the Partnership, such as its debts and environmental liabilities, except for those contractual obligations of the Partnership that are expressly made without recourse to our general partner. In addition, the limitations on the liability of holders of limited partner interests for the obligations of a limited partnership have not been clearly established in some jurisdictions in which we do business.
We can borrow money to pay distributions, which would reduce the amount of credit available to operate our business.
Our partnership agreement allows us to make working capital borrowings to pay distributions. Accordingly, if we have available borrowing capacity, we can make distributions on all our units even though cash generated by our operations may not be sufficient to pay such distributions. Any working capital borrowings by us to make distributions reduces the amount of working capital borrowings we can make for operating our business. For more information, please read “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
Increases in interest rates may cause the market price of our common units to decline.
An increase in interest rates may cause a corresponding decline in demand for equity investments in general, and in particular for yield-based equity investments such as our common units. Any such increase in interest rates or reduction in demand for our common units resulting from other relatively more attractive investment opportunities may cause the trading price of our common units to decline.
We are exposed to market risks relating to the announced phase-out of the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”).
We are exposed to a market risk relating to increases in interest rates because the amounts borrowed under our existing loan and credit facilities bear interest at rates based on LIBOR. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR to the administrator of LIBOR after 2021. On November 30, 2020, the administrator of LIBOR announced a delay in the phase out of a majority of the U.S. dollar LIBOR publications until June 30, 2023, with the remainder of LIBOR publications still being phased out at the end of 2021. The foregoing announcements indicate that the continuation of LIBOR on the current basis is not guaranteed after 2023. Significant increases in LIBOR or uncertainty surrounding its phase out after 2023 could adversely affect our business, financial condition, operating results and cash flows. The outcome of reforms may result in increased interest expense to us, may affect our ability to incur debt on terms acceptable to us and may result in increased costs related to amending our existing debt instruments, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. We use interest rate swaps to reduce our exposure to interest rate risk and hedge a portion of our outstanding indebtedness. There is no assurance that our derivative contracts will provide adequate protection against adverse changes in interest rates or that our bank counterparties will be able to perform their obligations.
We rely on the master limited partnership (“MLP”) structure and its appeal to investors for accessing debt and equity markets to finance our growth and repay or refinance our debt. The volatility in energy prices over the past few years has, among other factors, caused increased volatility and contributed to a dislocation in pricing for MLPs.
The volatility in energy prices and, in particular, the price of oil, among other factors, has contributed to increased volatility in the pricing of MLPs and the energy debt markets, as a number of MLPs and other energy companies may be adversely affected by a lower energy prices environment. A number of MLPs, including certain maritime MLPs, have reduced or eliminated their distributions to unitholders.
We rely on our ability to obtain financing and to raise capital in the equity and debt markets to fund our capital replacement, growth and investment expenditures, and to refinance our debt. A protracted deterioration in the valuation of our common units would increase our cost of capital, make any equity issuance significantly dilutive and may affect our ability to access capital markets and, as a result, our capacity to pay distributions to our unitholders and service or refinance our debt.
Unitholders may have liability to repay distributions.
Under some circumstances, unitholders may have to repay amounts wrongfully returned or distributed to them. Under the Marshall Islands Limited Partnership Act (the “Marshall Islands Act”), we may not make a distribution to our unitholders if the distribution would cause our liabilities, other than liabilities to partners on account of their partnership interest and liabilities for which the recourse of creditors is limited to specified property of ours, to exceed the fair value of our assets, except that the fair value of property that is subject to a liability for which the recourse of creditors is limited will be included in our assets only to the extent that the fair value of that property exceeds that liability. Marshall Islands law provides that for a period of three years from the date of the impermissible distribution, limited partners who received the distribution and who knew at the time of the distribution that it violated Marshall Islands law will be liable to the limited partnership for the distribution amount. Assignees who become substituted limited partners are liable for the obligations of the assignor to make contributions to the limited partnership that are known to the assignee at the time it became a limited partner and for unknown obligations if the liabilities could be determined from our partnership agreement.
We have been organized as a limited partnership under the laws of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of partnership law.
Our partnership affairs are governed by our partnership agreement and by the Marshall Islands Act. The provisions of the Marshall Islands Act resemble provisions of the limited partnership laws of a number of states in the United States, most notably Delaware. The Marshall Islands Act also provides that it is to be applied and construed to
make it, with respect to the subject matter thereof, uniform with the laws of the State of Delaware and, for non-resident limited partnerships such as ours, so long as it does not conflict with the Marshall Islands Act or decisions of the High and Supreme Courts of the Marshall Islands, the non-statutory law (or case law) of the State of Delaware is adopted as the law of the Marshall Islands. There have been, however, few, if any, court cases in the Marshall Islands interpreting the Marshall Islands Act, in contrast to Delaware, which has a fairly well-developed body of case law interpreting its limited partnership statute. Accordingly, we cannot predict whether Marshall Islands courts would reach the same conclusions as the courts in Delaware. For example, the rights of our unitholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our general partner under Marshall Islands law are not as clearly established as under judicial precedent in existence in Delaware. As a result, unitholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions by our general partner and its officers and directors than would unitholders of a similarly organized limited partnership in the United States.
Because we and KNOT UK are Marshall Islands entities, our operations may be subject to economic substance requirements of the EU, which could harm our business.
On December 5, 2017, following an assessment of the tax policies of various countries by the Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation of the EU (the “COCG”), the Council of the EU (the “Council”) approved and published Council conclusions containing a list of “non-cooperative jurisdictions” for tax purposes (the “2017 Conclusions”). On March 12, 2019, the Council adopted a revised list of non-cooperative jurisdictions (the “2019 Conclusions”). In the 2019 Conclusions, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, among others, was placed by the EU on its list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes for failing to implement certain commitments previously made to the EU by the agreed deadline. The EU subsequently removed the Marshall Islands from that list in October 2019. EU member states have agreed upon a set of measures, which they can choose to apply against the listed countries, including increased monitoring and audits, withholding taxes, special documentation requirements and anti-abuse provisions. The European Commission has stated it will continue to support member states’ efforts to develop a more coordinated approach to sanctions for the listed countries. EU legislation prohibits EU funds from being channeled or transited through entities in non-cooperative jurisdictions.
We are a Marshall Islands partnership and KNOT UK is a Marshall Islands limited liability company. Regulations adopted in the Marshall Islands (which came into force on January 1, 2019) require certain entities that carry out particular activities to comply with an economic substance test whereby the entity must show that it (i) is directed and managed in the Marshall Islands in relation to that relevant activity, (ii) carries out core income-generating activity in relation to that relevant activity in the Marshall Islands (although it is being understood and acknowledged by the regulators that income-generated activities for shipping companies will generally occur in international waters) and (iii) having regard to the level of relevant activity carried out in the Marshall Islands has (a) an adequate amount of expenditures in the Marshall Islands, (b) adequate physical presence in the Marshall Islands and (c) an adequate number of qualified employees in the Marshall Islands. Based on our current business activities, we believe that we and KNOT UK are not required to comply with this economic substance test.
In addition, certain jurisdictions have enacted or may enact economic substance laws and regulations with which we may be obligated to comply. If we fail to comply with our obligations under any such laws and regulations, including the Marshall Islands regulations, we could be subject to financial penalties and spontaneous disclosure of information to foreign tax officials, or could be struck from the register of companies. Any of the foregoing could be disruptive to our business and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions and operating results.
We do not know if the EU will add the Marshall Islands to the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions; what actions the Marshall Islands may take, if any, to remove itself from the list if it is added; how quickly the EU would react to any changes in legislation of the Marshall Islands; or how EU banks or other counterparties will react while we or KNOT UK remain as entities organized and existing under the laws of the Marshall Islands. The effect of the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, and any noncompliance by us with legislation adopted by the Marshall Islands to achieve removal from the list, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions and operating results.
Because we are organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands, it may be difficult to serve us with legal process or enforce judgments against us, our directors or our management.
We are organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands, and substantially all of our assets are located outside of the United States. In addition, our general partner is a Marshall Islands limited liability company, and our directors and officers generally are or will be non-residents of the United States, and all or a substantial portion of the assets of these non-residents are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for our unitholders to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States if our unitholders believe that their rights have been infringed under securities laws or otherwise. Even if our unitholders are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Marshall Islands and of other jurisdictions may prevent or restrict our unitholders from enforcing a judgment against our assets or the assets of our general partner or our directors or officers.
Our partnership agreement designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our unitholders unless otherwise provided for under the laws of the Marshall Islands. This limits our unitholders’ ability to choose the judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees.
Our partnership agreement provides that, with certain limited exceptions, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware is the exclusive forum for any claims, suits, actions or proceedings (1) arising out of or relating in any way to our partnership agreement (including any claims, suits or actions to interpret, apply or enforce the provisions of our partnership agreement or the duties, obligations or liabilities among limited partners or of limited partners to us, or the rights or powers of, or restrictions on, our limited partners or us); (2) brought in a derivative manner on our behalf; (3) asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee of us or our general partner, or owed by our general partner, to us or our limited partners; (4) asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Marshall Islands Act; and (5) asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This exclusive forum provision does not apply to actions arising under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) or the U.S. Securities and Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in our units is deemed to have received notice of and consented to the foregoing provisions.
Although we believe these provisions will benefit us by providing increased consistency in the application of Delaware law for the specified types of actions and proceedings, the provisions may have the effect of discouraging lawsuits against our directors, officers, employees and agents. The enforceability of similar forum selection provisions in other companies’ certificates of incorporation or similar governing documents have been challenged in legal proceedings, and it is possible that, in connection with one or more actions or proceedings described above, a court could find that the forum selection provision contained in our partnership agreement is inapplicable or unenforceable in such action or actions. Limited partners will not be deemed, by operation of the forum selection provision alone, to have waived claims arising under the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. If a court were to find this choice of forum provision inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our financial position, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
In addition to the following risk factors, you should read “Item 4. Information on the Partnership—Business Overview—Taxation of the Partnership” and “Item 10. Additional Information—Taxation” for a more complete discussion of the expected material U.S. federal and non-U.S. income tax considerations relating to us and the ownership and disposition of our common units.
We are subject to taxes, which reduces our cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
We and our subsidiaries may be subject to tax in the jurisdictions in which we are organized or operate, reducing the amount of cash available for distribution. In computing our tax obligations in these jurisdictions, we are required to take
various tax accounting and reporting positions on matters that are not entirely free from doubt and for which we have not received rulings from the governing authorities. We cannot assure you that, upon review of these positions, the applicable authorities will agree with our positions. A successful challenge by a tax authority could result in additional tax imposed on us or our subsidiaries, further reducing the cash available for distribution. In addition, changes in our operations or ownership could result in additional tax being imposed on us or our subsidiaries in jurisdictions in which operations are conducted.
A change in tax laws in any country in which we operate could adversely affect us.
Tax laws and regulations are highly complex and subject to interpretation. Consequently, we and our subsidiaries are subject to changing tax laws, treaties and regulations in and between countries in which we operate. Our income tax expense is based on our interpretation of the tax laws in effect at the time the expense was incurred. A change in tax laws, treaties or regulations, or in the interpretation thereof, could result in a materially higher tax expense or a higher effective tax rate on our earnings. Such changes may include measures enacted in response to the ongoing initiatives in relation to fiscal legislation at an international level, such as the Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
U.S. tax authorities could treat us as a “passive foreign investment company,” which would have adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. unitholders.
A non-U.S. entity treated as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes will be treated as a “passive foreign investment company” (a “PFIC”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes if at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of “passive income” or at least 50% of the average value of its assets produce, or are held for the production of, “passive income.” For purposes of these tests, “passive income” includes dividends, interest, gains from the sale or exchange of investment property, and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties that are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. For purposes of these tests, income derived from the performance of services does not constitute “passive income.” U.S. unitholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous U.S. federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC, and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their interests in the PFIC, unless the U.S. unitholders make certain elections.
Based on our current and projected method of operation, we believe that we were not a PFIC for any prior taxable year, and we expect that we will not be treated as a PFIC for the current or any future taxable year. We believe that more than 25% of our gross income for each taxable year was or will be non-passive income, and more than 50% of the average value of our assets for each such year was or will be held for the production of non-passive income. This belief is based on certain valuations and projections regarding our income and assets, and its validity is based on the accuracy of such valuations and projections. While we believe these valuations and projections to be accurate, the shipping market is volatile, and no assurance can be given that they will continue to be accurate at any time in the future.
Moreover, there are legal uncertainties involved in determining whether the income derived from time-chartering activities constitutes rental income or income derived from the performance of services. In Tidewater Inc. v. United States, 565 F.3d 299 (5th Cir. 2009), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the “Fifth Circuit”) held that income derived from certain time-chartering activities should be treated as rental income rather than services income for purposes of a provision of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), relating to foreign sales corporations. In that case, the Fifth Circuit did not address the definition of passive income or the PFIC rules; however, the reasoning of the case could have implications as to how the income from a time charter would be classified under such rules. If the reasoning of this case were extended to the PFIC context, the gross income we derive or are deemed to derive from our time-chartering activities may be treated as rental income, and we would likely be treated as a PFIC. In published guidance, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) stated that it disagreed with the holding in Tidewater and specified that time charters similar to those at issue in the case should be treated as service contracts. We have not sought, and we do not expect to seek, an IRS ruling on the treatment of income generated from our time-chartering activities. As a result, the IRS or a court could disagree with our position. No assurance can be given that this result will not occur. In addition, although we intend to conduct our affairs in a manner to avoid, to the extent possible, being classified as a PFIC with respect to any taxable year, we cannot assure you that the nature of our
operations will not change in the future, or that we will not be a PFIC in the future. If the IRS were to find that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year (and regardless of whether we remain a PFIC for any subsequent taxable year), our U.S. unitholders would face adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences. Please read “Item 10. Additional Information—Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders—PFIC Status and Significant Tax Consequences” for a more detailed discussion of the U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. unitholders if we are treated as a PFIC.
We may have to pay tax on U.S. source income, which would reduce our cash flow.
Under the Code, U.S. source gross transportation income generally is subject to a 4% U.S. federal income tax without allowance for deduction of expenses, unless an exemption from tax applies under a tax treaty or Section 883 of the Code and the Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder. U.S. source gross transportation income consists of 50% of the gross shipping income that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States.
We expect that our vessel-owning subsidiaries will qualify for an exemption from U.S. tax on any U.S. source gross transportation income under the Convention Between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Norway with Respect to Taxes on Income and Property (the “U.S.-Norway Tax Treaty”), and we intend to take this position for U.S. federal income tax purposes. However, if we acquire interests in vessel-owning subsidiaries in the future that are not Norwegian residents for purposes of the U.S.-Norway Tax Treaty, U.S. source gross transportation income earned by those subsidiaries would generally be subject to a 4% U.S. federal income tax unless the exemption under Section 883 of the Code applied. In general, the Section 883 exemption provides that if a non-U.S. corporation satisfies the requirements of Section 883 of the Code and the Treasury Regulations thereunder, it will not be subject to the 4% U.S. federal income tax referenced above on its U.S. source gross transportation income. The Section 883 exemption does not apply to income attributable to transportation that begins and ends in the United States.
The vessels in our fleet do not currently engage in transportation that begins and ends in the United States, and we do not expect that our subsidiaries will in the future earn income from such transportation. If, notwithstanding this expectation, our subsidiaries earn income in the future from transportation that begins and ends in the United States, that income would not be exempt from U.S. federal income tax under Section 883 of the Code and may not be exempt from U.S. federal income tax under the U.S.-Norway Tax Treaty and therefore may be subject to net income tax in the United States (currently at a 21% rate, plus branch profits tax at a rate of 30% (unless reduced or eliminated under an income tax treaty)).
The imposition of U.S. federal income tax on our income could have a negative effect on our business and would result in decreased earnings available for distribution to our unitholders.
Our unitholders may be subject to income tax in one or more non-U.S. jurisdictions as a result of owning our common units if, under the laws of any such jurisdiction, we are considered to be carrying on business there. Such laws may require our unitholders to file a tax return with, and pay taxes to, those jurisdictions.
We conduct our affairs and cause each of our subsidiaries to operate its business in a manner that minimizes income taxes imposed upon us and our subsidiaries. Furthermore, we conduct our affairs and cause each of our subsidiaries to operate its business in a manner that minimizes the risk that unitholders may be treated as having a permanent establishment or taxable presence in a jurisdiction where we or our subsidiaries conduct activities simply by virtue of their ownership of our common units. However, because we are organized as a partnership, there is a risk in some jurisdictions, including Norway, that our activities or the activities of our subsidiaries may rise to the level of a taxable presence that is attributed to our unitholders for tax purposes. We have obtained confirmation from the United Kingdom HM Revenue & Customs that unitholders should not be treated as trading in the United Kingdom merely by virtue of their ownership of our common units. If our unitholders are attributed such a taxable presence in a jurisdiction, our unitholders may be required to file a tax return with, and to pay tax in, that jurisdiction based on our unitholders’ allocable share of any identifiable taxable income. In addition, we may be required to obtain information from our unitholders in the event a tax authority (including in the United Kingdom) requires such information to submit a tax return. We may be required to reduce distributions to our unitholders on account of any tax withholding obligations
imposed upon us by that jurisdiction in respect of such allocation to our unitholders. The United States may not allow a tax credit for any foreign income taxes that our unitholders directly or indirectly incur by virtue of an investment in us.
Item 4. Information on the Partnership
A. History and Development of the Partnership
KNOT Offshore Partners LP is a publicly traded limited partnership formed on February 21, 2013 to own, operate and acquire shuttle tankers under long-term charters, which we define as charters of five years or more. On April 18, 2013, we completed our initial public offering (“IPO”) of 8,567,500 common units. In connection with our IPO, through KNOT UK, a 100% owned limited liability company formed under the laws of the Marshall Islands, the Partnership acquired a 100% ownership interest in KNOT Shuttle Tankers AS, which owned (1) 100% of Knutsen Shuttle Tankers XII KS, the owner of the Recife Knutsen and the Fortaleza Knutsen, (2) 100% of Knutsen Shuttle Tankers XII AS, the general partner of Knutsen Shuttle Tankers XII KS, and (3) the Windsor Knutsen and the Bodil Knutsen and all of their related charters, inventory and long-term debt. In establishing the new KNOT Shuttle Tankers AS structure, KNOT formed three new Norwegian subsidiaries, which acquired 90% of Knutsen Shuttle Tankers XII KS, 100% of the Windsor Knutsen and 100% of the Bodil Knutsen, respectively.
On August 1, 2013, we acquired Knutsen Shuttle Tankers 13 AS, the company that owns and operates the shuttle tanker, the Carmen Knutsen, from KNOT.
In June and July 2014, we sold an aggregate of 5,240,000 common units in an underwritten public offering and used a portion of the proceeds to fund the acquisition from KNOT of Knutsen Shuttle Tankers 14 AS and Knutsen Shuttle Tankers 15 AS, the companies that own the Hilda Knutsen and the Torill Knutsen, respectively, which closed on June 30, 2014.
On December 15, 2014, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 20 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Dan Cisne, from KNOT.
On June 2, 2015, we sold 5,000,000 common units in an underwritten public offering and used a portion of the net proceeds to fund the acquisition from KNOT of KNOT Shuttle Tankers 21 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Dan Sabia, which closed on June 15, 2015.
On October 15, 2015, we acquired Knutsen NYK Shuttle Tankers 16 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Ingrid Knutsen, from KNOT.
On December 1, 2016, we acquired Knutsen Shuttle Tankers 19 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Raquel Knutsen, from KNOT.
On January 10, 2017, we sold 2,500,000 common units in an underwritten public offering, raising approximately $54.9 million in net proceeds.
On February 2, 2017, we issued and sold in a private placement 2,083,333 Series A Preferred Units at a price of $24.00 per unit, raising approximately $48.6 million in net proceeds.
On March 1, 2017, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 24 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Tordis Knutsen, from KNOT.
On June 1, 2017, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 25 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Vigdis Knutsen, from KNOT.
On June 30, 2017, we issued and sold in a second private placement 1,666,667 additional Series A Preferred Units at a price of $24.00 per unit, raising approximately $38.9 million in net proceeds.
On September 30, 2017, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 26 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Lena Knutsen, from KNOT.
On November 9, 2017, we sold 3,000,000 common units in an underwritten public offering. In connection with the offering, our general partner contributed $1.2 million to us to maintain its 1.85% general partner interest. The total net proceeds from the offering and the general partner contribution were $66.0 million.
On December 15, 2017, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 32 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Brasil Knutsen, from KNOT.
On March 1, 2018, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 30 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Anna Knutsen, from KNOT.
On December 31, 2020, we acquired KNOT Shuttle Tankers 34 AS, the company that owns the shuttle tanker, the Tove Knutsen, from KNOT.
For more information regarding recent developments, please see “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Significant Developments in 2020”
As of March 18, 2021, we had a fleet of seventeen shuttle tankers.
We were formed under the law of the Marshall Islands and maintain our principal place of business at 2 Queen’s Cross, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, AB15 4YB, United Kingdom. Our telephone number at that address is +44 (0) 1224 618420. Our agent for service of process in the United States is Puglisi & Associates, and its address is 850 Library Avenue, Suite 204, Newark, Delaware 19711.
We reserve cash from operations for future maintenance capital expenditures, working capital and other matters. Our annual estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures are currently $70.5 million per year, which is comprised of $60.9 million for replacing our current vessels at the end of their useful lives and $9.6 million for drydocking maintenance and classification surveys. We are required to deduct estimated maintenance and replacement capital expenditures from operating surplus in order to determine our distributable cash flow.
Access to Information
The SEC maintains a website on the Internet that contains reports, proxy, information statements and other information electronically filed via the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system, which may be accessed at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
We maintain a website at www.knotoffshorepartners.com. The information on our website is not part of this Annual Report.
B. Business Overview
We were formed to own and operate shuttle tankers under long-term charters. Our primary business objective is to increase quarterly distributions per unit over time by growing our business through accretive acquisitions of shuttle tankers and by chartering our vessels pursuant to long-term charters with high quality customers that generate long-term
stable cash flows. The vessels in our current fleet are chartered to Equinor, Transpetro, Repsol, Shell, Vår, Galp, and ENI. Our charters have an average remaining term of 2.9 years as of December 31, 2020.
Since our IPO, we have increased our quarterly distribution from $0.375 per unit to $0.52 per unit for the quarter ended December 31, 2020.
We intend to leverage the relationships, expertise and reputation of KNOT, a leading independent owner and operator of shuttle tankers, to pursue potential growth opportunities and to attract and retain high-quality, creditworthy customers. As of March 18, 2021, KNOT and our general partner owned our general partner interest, all of our incentive distribution rights and 26.5% of our common units. KNOT intends to utilize us as its primary growth vehicle to pursue the acquisition of long-term, stable cash-flow-generating shuttle tankers.
Our primary business objective is to increase quarterly distributions per unit over time by executing the following strategies:
|●||Pursue strategic and accretive acquisitions of shuttle tankers on long-term, fixed-rate charters. We seek to leverage our relationship with KNOT to make strategic and accretive acquisitions. During the term of the Omnibus Agreement, we have the opportunity to purchase from KNOT any newbuild under a long-term charter or existing shuttle tanker in the KNOT fleet that enters into a long-term charter.|
|●||Expand global operations in high-growth regions. We seek to expand in proven areas of offshore production, such as the North Sea and Brazil, and in new production areas as they are developed. We believe that KNOT’s leading market position, operational expertise and strong customer relationships will enable us to have early access to new production projects worldwide.|
|●||Manage our fleet and deepen our customer relationships to continue to provide a stable base of cash flows. We intend to maintain and grow our cash flows by focusing on strong customer relationships and actively seeking the extension and renewal of existing charters in addition to new opportunities to serve our customers. KNOT charters its current fleet to a number of the world’s leading energy companies. We believe the close relationships that KNOT has with these companies will provide attractive opportunities for us. We continue to incorporate safety, health, security and environmental stewardship into all aspects of vessel design and operation in order to satisfy our customers and comply with national and international rules and regulations.|
We can provide no assurance, however, that we will be able to implement our business strategies described above. For further discussion of the risks that we face, please read “Item 3. Key Information—Risk Factors.”
Shuttle Tanker Market
A shuttle tanker is a specialized vessel designed to transport crude oil and condensates from offshore oil field installations to onshore terminals and refineries. Shuttle tankers are equipped with sophisticated loading systems and dynamic positioning systems that allow the vessels to load cargo safely and reliably from oil field installations, even in harsh weather conditions.
Shuttle tankers are often described as “floating pipelines,” because these vessels typically shuttle oil from offshore installations to onshore facilities in much the same way a pipeline would transport oil along the ocean floor. Shuttle tankers can be either purpose-built or converted from existing conventional oil tankers.
The advantages of shuttle tankers as compared to pipelines include:
|●||the use of shuttle tankers is a more flexible option than pipelines for the transportation of oil from the oil field to onshore terminals and provides destination flexibility for the customers;|
|●||shuttle tankers provide a more flexible solution to declining production profiles and abandonment as a pipeline has a fixed capacity, whereas shuttle tanker capacity may be adjusted through reduced frequency of calls or reduced number of vessels serving a field;|
|●||shuttle tanker operators may provide back-up capacity during times when existing transportation infrastructure is closed for maintenance or otherwise unavailable, which would enable uninterrupted production;|
|●||shuttle tankers require less significant up-front investment than pipelines; and|
|●||shuttle tankers provide customers the benefit of purchasing unblended crude qualities, whereas pipelines usually provide a blend of different crude qualities as several oilfields may be connected to the same pipeline. A shuttle tanker may load at several fields during one single voyage, but oil from different fields may be kept separated in different compartments onboard.|
Shuttle tankers primarily differ from conventional oil tankers based on two significant features. First, shuttle tankers are fitted with position-keeping equipment enabling them to remain in a position without the assistance of tugs or mooring to installations. Second, shuttle tankers are equipped with bow-loading equipment and, in some cases, also fitted with equipment for submerged turret loading. Conventional oil tankers load from an offshore field installation usually through a taut hawser (mooring line onboard the discharging unit) operation and/or with tug assistance. In certain cases, dedicated shuttle tanker newbuilds are required to service the specific requirements of oil fields and installations. At times, conventional oil tankers can be converted to shuttle tankers after a substantial upgrade and investment in equipment.
The following table provides information about the seventeen shuttle tankers in our fleet as of March 18, 2021:
|(1)||The charter is currently expected to expire on April 9, 2021.|
|(2)||Customer has the option to extend the charter for up to three one-year periods.|
|(3)||Customer has the option to extend the charter for up to two one-year periods.|
|(4)||Customer has the option to extend the charter for up to five one-year periods.|
|(5)||Customer has the option to extend the charter for up to one three-year period and one two-year period.|
|(6)||On December 8, 2020, the Partnership secured new three-year fixed contracts for the vessels, Tordis Knutsen, Vigdis Knutsen and Lena Knutsen, with a major oil company. The commencement of these new time charters range between May and December 2023. The vessels will be marketed for short to mid-term charter business in the intervening period between the end of the vessels’ current fixed charters (in 2022) and the commencement of the abovementioned new fixed charters (in 2023), which period on average is currently estimated to be 15 months for each vessel.|
|(7)||Customer has the option to extend the charter for up to two three-year periods.|
|(8)||Customer has the option to extend the charter for up to two two-year periods and nine one-year periods.|
For the year ended December 31, 2020, Shell, ENI, Transpetro, Galp, Repsol, Vår and Equinor accounted for approximately 28%, 16%, 16%, 13%, 12%, 7%, and 6%, respectively, of our revenues.
We generate revenues by charging customers for the loading, transportation and storage of their crude oil using the vessels in our fleet. We provide all of these services under time charters and bareboat charters.
As of March 18, 2021, thirteen of our shuttle tankers are chartered under time charters and four of our shuttle tankers are chartered under bareboat charters.
A time charter is a contract for the use of a specified vessel for a fixed period of time at a specified daily rate. Under time charters, the shipowner is responsible for providing crewing and other vessel operating services, the cost of which is included in the daily rate, while the customer is responsible for substantially all of the voyage expenses. A bareboat charter is a contract for the use of a specified vessel for a fixed period of time at a specified daily or annual rate. Under bareboat charters, the shipowner is not responsible for providing crewing or other operational services, while the customer is responsible for all vessel operating expenses and voyage expenses. In addition, bareboat charters also provide that the shipowner is responsible for repairs or renewals occasioned by latent defects in the vessel existing at the time of delivery, provided such defects have manifested themselves within 18 months after delivery. However, under bareboat charters, the customer is responsible for ordinary repair and maintenance, including drydocking.
Initial Term; Extensions
The initial term for a time charter or bareboat charter commences upon the vessel’s delivery to the customer. Our time charters include options, exercisable by the customer, to extend the charter’s initial term. Under the time charters, the customer may also extend the term for periods in which the vessel is off-hire, as described below. Customers under each of our time charters and bareboat charters have rights to terminate the charter prior to expiration of the original or any extended term in specified circumstances.
Hire rate refers to the basic payment from the customer for the use of the vessel. Under our time charters, the majority of hire rate is payable monthly in advance, in U.S. Dollars. The hire rate payable under our time charters is either a fixed amount for the firm period of the time charter with escalations to be made in case of option periods or increases annually based on a fixed percentage increase or fixed schedule, in order to enable us to offset expected increases in operating costs. Under our time charters, hire rate payments may be reduced if the vessel does not perform
to certain of its specifications, such as if the average vessel speed falls below a guaranteed speed or the amount of fuel consumed to power the vessel under normal circumstances exceeds a guaranteed amount.
The hire rate payable under our bareboat charters is fixed and payable monthly in advance, in U.S. Dollars. The customer is also required to maintain minimum levels of insurance to protect the interests of the customer, the shipowner and mortgagees, if any.
Under our time charters, when the vessel is off-hire, or not available for service, the customer generally is not required to pay the hire rate, and the shipowner is responsible for all costs. Prolonged off-hire may lead to a termination of the time charter. A vessel generally will be deemed off-hire if there is a loss of time due to, among other things:
|●||operational deficiencies; drydocking for repairs, maintenance or inspection; equipment breakdowns; or delays due to accidents, crewing strikes, certain vessel detentions or similar problems; or|
|●||the shipowner’s failure to maintain the vessel in compliance with its specifications and contractual standards or to provide the required crew.|
Our bareboat charters do not contain provisions for off-hire.
Ship Management and Maintenance
Under our time charters, the shipowner is responsible for the technical management of the vessel and for maintaining the vessel, periodic drydocking, cleaning and painting and performing work required by regulations. KNOT Management and KNOT Management Denmark provide these services to our subsidiaries for all our vessels under time charters. Please read “Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—Related Party Transactions.” Under our bareboat charters, the shipowner is not responsible for providing crewing or other operational services and the customer is responsible for all vessel operating expenses and voyage expenses. However, Transpetro has elected to subcontract the technical operation and management of the Fortaleza Knutsen, the Recife Knutsen, the Dan Cisne and the Dan Sabia to an affiliate of KNOT.
Each of our time charters and bareboat charters terminates automatically if the applicable vessel is lost or missing. In addition, under certain circumstances, the customer may have an option to terminate the time charter if the vessel is requisitioned by any government for a period of time in excess of the time period specified in the time charter or if at any time the shipowner is in default under the time charter. Under the bareboat charters, the charter is deemed terminated as of the date of any compulsory acquisition of the vessel or requisition for title by any governmental or other competent authority. In addition, the shipowner is generally entitled to suspend performance (but with the continuing accrual to its benefit of hire rate payments and default interest) and terminate the charter if the customer defaults in its payment obligations. Under the time charters and bareboat charters, either party may also terminate the charter in the event of war in specified countries.
However, under the bareboat charters, in the event of war, hire shall continue to be paid in accordance with the charter until redelivery. In addition, under the bareboat charters, the shipowner has the right to terminate the charter if the customer (1) does not take immediate steps to have the necessary repairs done within a reasonable time or (2) does not arrange and keep certain insurance.
The shuttle tanker industry is capital intensive and operational expertise is critical, which create high barriers to entry. The shuttle tanker industry is viewed as an integral part of offshore oil production creating a market with few alternative suppliers and therefore a low risk of substitution. A company with a solid track record, knowledge of the
market and an experienced, well-trained crew is preferred to a new entrant since the cost and impact of vessel downtime is significant for the customer. Furthermore, the systems in place for operational procedures, such as offshore loading and vetting, have significant value when negotiating contracts with new and existing customers.
According to Fearnresearch, as of March 1, 2021, there were approximately 89 vessels in the global shuttle tanker fleet (including 13 newbuilds on order). Together KNOT and KNOP are the largest owners of shuttle tankers with 33 shuttle tankers (including 4 newbuilds on order). Altera Shuttle Tankers L.L.C (formerly Teekay Offshore Partners L.P.) is the second largest owner in the shuttle tanker market with 28 shuttle tankers (including 2 newbuilds on order). American Eagle Tankers (AET) is the third largest owner of shuttle tankers with 17 vessels (including 6 newbuilds on order). Petrobras, which does not own vessels, employs a total of 25 shuttle tankers (including 3 newbuilds on order) through long-term bareboat and time charters. There are other shuttle tanker owners in the industry, but such owners have a limited fleet size and their vessels do not participate or compete in our markets.
Classification, Inspection and Maintenance
Every large, commercial seagoing vessel must be “classed” by a classification society. The classification society certifies that the vessel is “in class,” signifying that the vessel has been built and maintained in accordance with the rules of the classification society. In most cases, the classification society is authorized by the flag state to certify that the vessels also comply with applicable rules and regulations of the vessel’s country of registry and the international conventions of which that country is a member. In addition, where surveys are required by international conventions and corresponding laws and ordinances of a flag state, the classification society may undertake them on application or by official order, acting on behalf of the authorities concerned. The classification society also undertakes on request other surveys and checks that are required by regulations and requirements of the flag state. These surveys are subject to agreements made in each individual case and/or to the regulations of the country concerned. For maintenance of the class, regular and extraordinary surveys of hull, machinery, including the electrical plant, and any special equipment classed are required to be performed by the classification society as follows:
|●||Annual Surveys. For seagoing vessels, annual surveys are conducted for the hull and the machinery, including the electrical plant and where applicable for special equipment classed, at intervals of 12 months from the date of commencement of the class period indicated in the certificate.|
|●||Intermediate Surveys. Extended annual surveys are referred to as intermediate surveys and typically are conducted two and one-half years after commissioning and each class renewal. Intermediate surveys may be carried out on the occasion of the second or third annual survey.|
|●||Class Renewal Surveys. Class renewal surveys, also known as special surveys, are carried out for the ship’s hull, machinery, including the electrical plant and for any special equipment classed, at the intervals indicated by the character of classification for the hull. At the special survey, the vessel is thoroughly examined, including ultrasonic gauging, in order to determine the thickness of the steel structures. Should the thickness be found to be less than class requirements, the classification society would require steel renewals. Substantial amounts of money may have to be spent for steel renewals to pass a special survey if the vessel experiences excessive wear and tear. In lieu of the special survey every five years, a shipowner has the option of arranging with the classification society for the vessel’s hull or machinery to be on a continuous survey cycle, in which every part of the vessel would be surveyed within a five-year cycle. At an owner’s application, the surveys required for class renewal may be split according to an agreed schedule to extend over the entire period of class. This process is referred to as continuous class renewal and though we have not exercised this option for our existing vessels, we may do so in the future.|
All of the vessel’s areas subject to survey as defined by the classification society are required to be surveyed at least once per class period, unless shorter intervals between surveys are prescribed elsewhere. The period between two subsequent surveys of each area must not exceed five years.
A vessel’s underwater parts are required to be inspected every 24 to 36 months by the classification society. Drydocking of vessels is done, at the minimum, every 60 months until the vessel is 15 years old and every 30 months
thereafter. If any defects are found, the classification surveyor will issue a condition of class that must be rectified by the shipowner.
Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage that a vessel be certified as “in class” by a classification society that is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies. All of our vessels have been awarded International Safety Management certification and are certified as being “in class” by DNV GL or ABS, the Norwegian and American classification societies, respectively. All new and secondhand vessels that we purchase must be certified prior to their delivery under the standard purchase contracts and memoranda of agreement. If the vessel is not certified on the date of closing, we will have no obligation to take delivery of the vessel.
KNOT, through certain of its subsidiaries, operates as our ship manager, and carries out inspections of the ships on a regular basis, both at sea and while the vessels are in port, as well as carrying out inspections and ship audits to verify conformity with managers’ reports. The results of these inspections result in a report containing recommendations for improvements to the overall condition of the vessel, maintenance, safety and crew welfare. Based in part on these evaluations, we create and implement a program of continual maintenance and improvement for our vessels and their systems.
Safety, Management of Ship Operations and Administration
Safety and environmental compliance is our top operational priority. Our vessels are operated in a manner intended to protect the safety and health of our employees, the general public and the environment. We actively manage the risks inherent in our business and are committed to eliminating incidents that threaten the safety and integrity of our vessels, such as groundings, fires, collisions and petroleum spills. We are also committed to reducing emissions, carbon intensity and waste generation. We have established key performance indicators to facilitate regular monitoring of our operational performance. We set targets on an annual basis to drive continuous improvement, and we review performance indicators monthly to determine if remedial action is necessary to reach our targets. KNOT’s shore staff performs a full range of technical, commercial and business development services for us. This staff also provides administrative support to our operations in finance, accounting and human resources.
KNOT, through certain of its subsidiaries, assists us and our operating subsidiaries in managing our ship operations. DNV GL, a Norwegian classification society, has approved KNOT’s safety management system, which has been implemented on all our ships, as complying with the IMO’s International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention (the “ISM Code”), International Standards Organization (“ISO”) 9001 for Quality Assurance, ISO 14001 for Environment Management Systems and OHSAS 18001, for Occupational Health and Safety Management System. As part of KNOT’s ISM Code compliance, all the vessels’ safety management certificates are being maintained through ongoing internal audits performed by KNOT’s certified internal auditors and external audits performed by DNV GL or the respective flag state. Subject to satisfactory completion of these internal and external audits, certification is valid for five years.
KNOT provides, through certain of its subsidiaries, expertise in various functions critical to the operations of our operating subsidiaries. We believe this arrangement affords a safe, efficient and cost-effective operation. KNOT’s subsidiaries also provide to us access to human resources, financial and other administrative functions pursuant to technical management agreements. Please read “Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—Related Party Transactions—Technical Management Agreements.”
Critical ship management functions that are provided by KNOT or its subsidiaries through various of its offices around the world include:
|●||technical management, maintenance and dockings;|
|●||procurement, purchasing and forwarding logistics;|
|●||vetting, oil major and terminal approvals;|
These functions are supported by onboard and onshore systems for maintenance, inventory, purchasing and budget management. In addition, KNOT’s day-to-day focus on cost control is applied to our operations. We believe that the adoption of common standards results in operational efficiencies, including with respect to crew training and vessel management, equipment operation and repair, and spare parts ordering.
Risk of Loss, Insurance and Risk Management
The operation of any vessel, including shuttle tankers, has inherent risks. These risks include mechanical failure, personal injury, collision, property loss, vessel or cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries or hostilities. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including explosion, spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. We believe that our present insurance coverage is adequate to protect us against the accident-related risks involved in the conduct of our business and that we maintain appropriate levels of environmental damage and pollution insurance coverage consistent with standard industry practice. However, not all risks can be insured, and there can be no guarantee that any specific claim will be paid, or that we will always be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.
We have obtained hull and machinery insurance on all our vessels to insure against marine and war risks, which include the risks of damage to our vessels, salvage or towing costs, and also insure against actual or constructive total loss of any of our vessels. However, our insurance policies contain deductible amounts for which we are responsible. We have also arranged additional total loss coverage for each vessel. This coverage, which is called hull interest and freight interest coverage, provides us additional coverage in the event of the total loss or the constructive total loss of a vessel.
We have also obtained loss of hire insurance to protect us against loss of income in the event one of our vessels cannot be employed due to damage that is covered under the terms of our hull and machinery insurance. Under our loss of hire policies, our insurer will pay us the hire rate agreed in respect of each vessel for each day, in excess of a certain number of deductible days, for the time that the vessel is out of service as a result of damage, for a maximum of 180 days. The number of deductible days for the vessels in our fleet is 14 days per vessel.
All of our hull and machinery, hull interest and freight interest and loss of hire insurance policies are written on the Norwegian Marine Insurance Plan (“NMIP”), which through the hull and maintenance coverage also offers comprehensive collision liability coverage of up to the insured hull and maintenance value of the vessel. NMIP is based on an “all risk principle” and offers what is considered to be the most comprehensive insurance obtainable in any of the world’s marine markets today. The agreed deductible on each vessel averages $150,000 for the shuttle tankers in our fleet.
Protection and indemnity insurance, which covers our third-party legal liabilities in connection with our shipping activities, is provided by a P&I club. This includes third-party liability and other expenses related to the injury or death of crew members, passengers and other third-party persons, loss or damage to cargo, claims arising from collisions with other vessels or from contact with jetties or wharves and other damage to other third-party property, including pollution arising from oil or other substances, and other related costs, including wreck removal. Subject to the capping discussed below, our coverage, except for pollution, is unlimited.
Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is $1 billion per vessel per incident. The 13 P&I clubs that comprise the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs insure approximately 90% of the world’s commercial tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association’s liabilities. Each P&I club has capped its exposure in this pooling agreement so that the maximum claim covered by the pool and its reinsurance would be approximately $1 billion per accident or occurrence. We are a member of Norwegian P&I Club Skuld.
As a member of these P&I clubs, we are subject to a call for additional premiums based on the clubs’ claims record, as well as the claims record of all other members of the P&I clubs comprising the International Group. However, our P&I clubs have reinsured the risk of additional premium calls to limit our additional exposure. This reinsurance is subject to a cap, and there is the risk that the full amount of the additional call would not be covered by this reinsurance.
The insurers providing the covers for hull and machinery, hull interest and freight interest, protection and indemnity and loss of hire insurances have confirmed that they will consider the shuttle tankers as vessels for the purpose of providing insurance.
We use in our operations KNOT’s risk management program that includes, among other things, risk analysis tools, maintenance and assessment programs, a seafarers competence training program, seafarers workshops and membership in emergency response organizations. We benefit from KNOT’s commitment to safety and environmental protection as certain of its subsidiaries assist us in managing our vessel operations.
KNOT has achieved certification under the standards reflected in ISO 9001 for quality assurance, ISO 14001 for environment management systems and the ISM Code on a fully integrated basis.
Environmental and Other Regulation
Our business and the operation of our vessels are significantly affected by international conventions and national, state and local laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate, as well as in the country or countries of their registration. Because these conventions, laws and regulations change frequently, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of compliance or their impact on the resale price or useful life of our vessels. While we believe that we are in substantial compliance with the current environmental laws and regulations that apply to our operations, there is no assurance that such compliance or compliance with amended or newly adopted laws and regulations can be maintained in the future. Additional conventions, laws, and regulations may be adopted that could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business and that may materially adversely affect our operations. We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain permits, licenses and certificates with respect to our operations. Subject to the discussion below and to the fact that the kinds of permits, licenses and certificates required for the operations of the vessels we own depend on a number of factors, we believe that we will be able to continue to obtain all permits, licenses and certificates material to the conduct of our operations.
International Maritime Organization
The IMO is the United Nations’ agency responsible for developing measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution from ships. IMO regulations relating to pollution prevention for oil tankers have been adopted by many of the jurisdictions in which our tanker fleet operates. Under IMO regulations and subject to limited exceptions, a tanker must be of double-hull construction, a mid-deck design with double-side construction or another approved design ensuring the same level of protection against oil pollution. All of our tankers are double-hulled.
Many countries, but not the United States, have ratified and follow the liability regime adopted by the IMO and set out in the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969, as updated by the 1992 Protocol (the “CLC”). Under this convention, a vessel’s registered owner is strictly liable for pollution damage caused in the territorial waters of a contracting state by discharge of persistent oil (e.g. crude oil, fuel oil, heavy diesel oil or
lubricating oil), subject to certain defenses. The right to limit liability to specified amounts that are periodically revised is forfeited under the CLC when the spill is caused by the owner’s actual fault or when the spill is caused by the owner’s intentional or reckless conduct. Vessels trading to contracting states must provide evidence of insurance covering the limited liability of the owner. In jurisdictions where the CLC has not been adopted, various legislative regimes or common law governs, and liability is imposed either on the basis of fault or in a manner similar to the CLC. IMO regulations also include SOLAS, including amendments to SOLAS implementing the International Security Code for Ports and Ships (the “ISPS”), the ISM Code and the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966. The IMO Marine Safety Committee has also published guidelines for vessels with dynamic positioning systems, which apply to shuttle tankers. SOLAS provides rules for the construction of and equipment required for commercial vessels and includes regulations for safe operation. Flag states that have ratified the CLC generally utilize the classification societies, which have incorporated SOLAS requirements into their class rules, to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.
SOLAS and other IMO regulations concerning safety, including those relating to treaties on training of shipboard personnel, lifesaving appliances, radio equipment and the global maritime distress and safety system, are applicable to our operations. Non-compliance with IMO regulations, including SOLAS, the ISM Code, and the ISPS, or the requirements for shuttle tankers under their flag regulations, may subject us to increased liability or penalties, may lead to decreases in available insurance coverage for affected vessels and may result in the denial of access to or detention in some ports. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard and EU authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and EU ports.
The requirements contained in the ISM Code govern our operations. Among other requirements, the ISM Code requires vessel operators to obtain a safety management certification for each vessel they manage, evidencing the shipowner’s development and maintenance of an extensive safety management system. In 2017, the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee ("MSC") adopted Resolution MSC.428(98), Maritime Cyber Risk Management in Safety Management Systems, embracing guidelines on maritime cyber risk management approved by the MSC in 2017, affirming its view tha