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Golar LNG Partners LP (GMLP) Q3 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers - Nov 30, 2020 at 5:00PM

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GMLP earnings call for the period ending September 30, 2020.

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Golar LNG Partners LP ( GMLP )
Q3 2020 Earnings Call
Nov 30, 2020, 11:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to Golar LNG Partners LP Third Quarter 2020 Earnings Presentation. [Operator Instructions] I must advise you that this conference is being recorded today, 30th of November 2020.

I would now like to hand the conference over to first speaker today, Karl Staubo, Partners' CEO. Please go ahead, sir.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, speaker. And welcome all to the Golar LNG Partners Q3 earnings release. Please make a note of the forward-looking statements on Page 2.

I'll then proceed to Page 3, Recent Highlights. Operating income for the quarter came in at $32.1 million, excluding the Partnership's interest in Hilli. Our quarterly net income was $17.4 million for the quarter. Total adjusted EBITDA, including the FLNG Hilli, came in at $76.5 million. Distributable cash flow was $20.7 million with a coverage ratio of 14.5 times. We declared a distribution of $0.0202 per common unit. And we've entered into a cooperation agreement with Hygo, as also previously disclosed. And lastly, we are now -- we have now received credit approved commitments from four lead banks for the contemplated refinancing of the seven-vessel bank facility maturing in April of next year. And we expect further bank commitments following a syndication exercise.

Turning to the third quarter results on Page 4. Operating revenue for the quarter was $71 million, just below Q2 revenue of $72.1 million as a result of the scheduled step down in the daily rate for one of our FSRUs as anticipated. Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was $76.5 million, marginally below Q2 of $77.7 million, mainly driven by the same drop in the FSRU charter rate and somewhat higher opex due to lifting of COVID restriction on certain maintenance works. Distribution coverage ratio for the quarter came in at 14.50, down from 20.1 in Q2 due to dividends received from Hilli after quarter end. For Q4, we expect distribution coverage ratio to revert to Q2 2020 levels as we expect the Hilli dividends to come inside the quarter.

Turning to segment information on Page 5. We continue to see stable operations across the fleet. We maintained 100% utilization for the FSRU fleet in the quarter, with both revenue and EBITDA in line with Q2 adjusted for a contractual step down in the time charter for one of our FSRUs. The LNG carrier Maria started its longer-term charter and shipping. Earnings were therefore very stable for the quarter. The FLNG Hilli continued its very strong utilization with another quarter of 100% utilization and the vessel has now delivered its 47th LNG cargo.

Turning to Page 6 and the balance sheet. As in the previous quarter, there has been no significant unexpected movements in our balance sheet for the quarter. We ended the quarter with a total cash position of $223 million, split between $42 million of free cash and $184 million in restricted cash. Our net interest bearing debt at quarter end was $1.4 billion with a net interest bearing debt to EBITDA multiple of 4.7, down from 4.8 in Q2.

Turning to our debt maturity profile. Our bank facility secured in four FSRUs and three LNG carriers that matures in April 2021 had an outstanding balance at quarter end of $529 million and it will be further amortized to $503 million at maturity in April of next year. We've made progress in refinancing the bank facility and have now received credit approved commitments from four existing lead banks. Further bank commitments are expected following a syndication exercise.

Our two unsecured bonds, which are maturing in November 21 and November 22 are both callable at par until May 2021 and at 105 thereafter. We maintain our plans to address these bond maturities once we've secured the refinance bank facility that before the step up from par to 105 call in May next year.

Turning to Slide 8 and revenue backlog. We maintain the solid earnings backlog for the quarter standing at $1.8 billion at quarter end. The key chartering updates for the quarter includes the Golar Maria, which has been on hire for 80 days with two spot charters before starting her long-term charter. Also, interestingly to comment on this slide is, we are experiencing increased charter interest for the idle FSRU Golar Spirit. And we're currently in discussions for two different projects with potential start-up in 2022 if the project materialize and we end up being the preferred FSRU provider.

On Slide 9, we continue to see the earnings backlog being diversified split 60% on our FSRU business, 32% on FLNG and 8% on our shipping portfolio. As we touched upon previously on Slide 10, you can see that we had a very stable operational utilization for the quarter, both Hilli and our FSRUs had 100% utilization as expected, but we're still grateful to see it. And our shipping utilization was above 96% due to the increased utilization of the Maria.

Turning to Slide 11. We have made a new slide trying to explain some of the fundamentals that we see out there in the market supporting FSRU demand. Global energy demand come -- we split into two distinct buckets, developed economies and emerging economies. It is very clear which of the two that's the driving force behind the growth in demand. And as you can see from the upper left chart, emerging markets have shown robust growth of nearly 5% per year over the past two decades, whereas demand in the developed economies has been anemic at close to zero growth. If you use data from BP's Energy Outlook, there's a view that this will not change anytime soon.

The current focus on transition to a greener world is very much centered around developed economies and rightly so given the abilities, both political, economical and environmental that have rolled over the time as governments turned their attention to the next-generation and sustainable future. However, it's important to realize that the strong growth in emerging markets have been the core driver of increased emissions, large base load amount has traditionally been delivered by coal or oil and not renewables.

Emissions from emerging markets have more than doubled since the year 2000. This is where LNG and natural gas will play an integral role going forward, enabling the transition to reduced emissions in emerging markets while at the same time having ability to deliver large scale energy projects that overtime can interact with renewables. This is what makes us confident of long-term demand for our FSRUs expected demand growth for LNG is just shy of 9% until 2030 in these economies, of which several are entering the LNG market in the next coming years. This is where we see the need for incremental FSRUs and, in particular, some of our older assets where we have previously described our parceling strategy. So we don't need to charter out the full capacity of our units that can do initial contracts with industrial off-takers that are early adopters or new adopters of LNG here.

Turning to Slide 12. Energy demand has to go hand-in-hand with the cost of energy. Pricing of LNG is expected to remain at a steep discount to crude oil and other liquid hydrocarbons, while price forecast running for 10 years are never right. We are still seeing that LNG continues to be cheap and that will drive substitution and LNG demand. Secondly, LNG has improved [Phonetic] and a better alternative to future large scale energy consumption than coal, which is of particular importance in rapidly growing economies such as the Philippines and Vietnam, both are looking to LNG to solve an impending energy crisis. That's not because coal is not available but because finance to construct coal-fired power generation is not available. This is not the case for gas-fired plants or LNG. Therefore, we are increasingly optimistic to the adoption of FSRUs in these regions.

Turning to Page 13. For those of you who listened to the Golar LNG presentation earlier today, this will be somewhat repetitive. The interesting point to note here is that our current company, Golar LNG, has signed an MoU with Black & Veatch to work jointly in development of floating infrastructure solutions for hydrogen and ammonia to capture and liquefy and transport storage of CO2. Any such developments could obviously be interesting to the partnership as well, both for our assets and for potential drop down candidates in the future.

Further to the operations, a few milestones that we would like to highlight. The Golar Winter passed 1.2 million exposure hours with no LTIs. For four consecutive years, we had no lost time incidents during the operation, which is the highest in our fleet and again creates a happy customer. Both the Maria and Methane Princess achieved 1.1 million hours of no lost time incidents. So that's another strong performance across the field.

Summarizing, our Q3 earnings was in line with also the second quarter. Our fourth quarter total adjusted EBITDA is expected to be broadly similar to those of this quarter. We've made good progress in strengthening the balance sheet. We've increased the cash balance increasing the initiation of amortization of our high yield bonds. And we have made a big step forward on the refinancing of our seven-vessel $800 million facility where we've got now committed participation from four lead banks and expect the commitments to increase as we continue our syndication.

That concludes the prepared remarks. And I would like to hand it over to the operator for any questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you, sir. [Operator Instructions] And sir your first question comes from the line of Randy Giveans from Jefferies. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

How do you -- gentlemen, how it's going?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Well, thanks. Thank you.

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Excellent. Good, good. Well, yeah, I guess, the big news around the refinancing of the $800 million facility maturing in April. Can you provide some more details on that, maybe in terms of how big you expect the new facility to be, maybe when you expect to close it and what kind of rate and duration are you looking at?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So, at maturity, the existing facility will be $503 million. We have previously announced that we have a target to increase that amount. And I would say, to give you a bit of a broad range, we're targeting anywhere between $500 million to $600 million and we're obviously shooting for the higher end of the range. In terms of duration, we're looking at the five-year duration. And I think your last question was around pricing and we expect that to come in sort of plus/minus 300 bps.

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Okay. So LIBOR, plus or minus 300 bps, pretty attractive there. And then, timing for that?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

So, basically we now have commitments from these four existing lenders. We expect to grow the commitments during syndication. But the four banks have spoken for well over 50% of any target proceeds.

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Nice. Okay. And then, for the other news around the Hygo partnership, right. What can we expect from that? And then, maybe separately or possibly in correlation with that, any updates on the Golar Spirit possibly to be used down in Brazil?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Sure. So, when it comes to the partnership, I think we've laid out a pretty clear strategic plan. It ties together with financing. Step one, refi the bank. Step two, refi the bonds. We're targeting to do that in Q1 or Q2, but before the step-up from par to 105. And step three, I think once you concluded one, two, you take a bit of a breath to see biggest alternatives but we would then likely look to growth initiatives where our focus will be on adding longevity to the backlog and to reduce the average age of the fleet. So those are the three primary targets.

We are also considering alternatives for the corporate structure given that we have observed that the amount of MLPs in the world basically has been reduced since 2014 where they peaked at around 74 MLPs in total and we're now down to sub-40. The characteristics of the MLP corporate structures seem to have had more capital market support and provided for more efficient pricing in the past than what it does. Today, there's certainly nothing that's been concluded one way or the other, but it's something we're looking into to consider for the company going forward.

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Got it.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Good day. Well, just keeping at two questions. So thanks so much for that.

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Likewise, thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Liam Burke from B. Riley. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Liam Burke -- B. Riley -- Analyst

Thank you. Hi, Karl.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Hi, Liam.

Liam Burke -- B. Riley -- Analyst

Karl, you mentioned your debt to trailing EBITDA ratio. You're refinancing your debt. You want to take a pause and then potentially get back to growth mode by adding assets. Is there a target debt to trailing EBITDA number that you have a ratio that you have in mind before you would step up your growth initiatives or are you just going to take them as they come along?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

It's a good question. So it obviously ties together with both the contract portfolio, the existing asset group and what you're buying. If you're buying something that's young with long contracts, I think you can allow for -- with loan contracts, you can allow for a higher net debt to EBITDA ratio for those assets than what you can for aging assets with shorter duration. So for us, it's about matching the debt and the profile to the asset and the contract portfolio. We're currently happy to see that the ratio is below 5 and we continue to see that declining as we continue to amortize at least on the existing structure on both our bank and bonds. And for now, I think we would have -- in order to achieve an efficient pricing on our debt capital market instruments, I think we should try to avoid going anywhere above 5% or at least not materially above. And were we to make an exception to that, it needs to be backed by a solid backlog.

Liam Burke -- B. Riley -- Analyst

Great. And this is much longer-term based on your time line, but when you would go back to growth mode, is there any particular asset that you would look toward or would you just be opportunistic as they came up?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

We'll certainly be opportunistic, I think that's without doubt. On the other hand, I also think that we should continue to focus mainly within LNG infrastructure assets. One asset that come to mind that should be particularly interest is if Golar LNG were to fix its vessel, the Golar Tundra on the long-term contract. That's a candidate that we would find a lot of interest in, just given that it's a very modern FSRU. It would significantly reduce the average age of our fleet and it would add the high-spec FSRU to the group and further strengthen our position as a high quality FSRU provider. But currently that vessel is operating as a ship in the core company and we're basically reliant on either funding a charter for her ourselves or relying for either Hygo or the LNG to do it. And then, we would then need to sit down and have a discussion on that afterwards.

There's certainly also other assets within the Golar Group that could be of interest. But we would definitely not restrict us to dealing within the Golar Group and we will be open to look to other providers. And you could also envisage something larger in terms of corporate transactions with similar structured companies. But I think, in order to embark on any such discussions, you need basically to refinance the company. It's a tough discussion to have when people see that you have maturities coming in the not-too-distant future.

Liam Burke -- B. Riley -- Analyst

Great. Thank you, Karl.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Chris Tsung from Webber Research. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Chris Tsung -- Webber Research -- Analyst

Hi, Karl. How are you?

Liam Burke -- B. Riley -- Analyst

Hi, Chris Tsung. I'm well. Thanks. How are you?

Chris Tsung -- Webber Research -- Analyst

Good. Thanks. I wanted to ask about the Hilli. I know in the Golar LNG call that the cap was removed and that the Hilli Episeyo is going to be able to bill for over production and that the amount was $5 million through inception to 2019. I wanted to ask if, one, just to confirm, is Golar LP receiving this as well? And two, is the amount $5 million to be split between the two or is that $5 million for Golar and then $5 million for the LP? Thanks.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Okay. I'll actually see because I have Stuart Buchanan and Brian Tienzo from the Golar team is also with me on the call. I think I can make a first comment and then see if any of them have anything to add to that question. But we view the lifting of the 500 Bcf cap as a very positive signal. Basically if Perenco were to utilize any capacity under Train 3 and 4 with the cap in place, they would essentially shorten the contract duration of Train 1 and 2, of which we own 50%. We would obviously need to be compensated for that as we have basically brought into the unit with more or less a fixed cash flow stream for the initial contract.

However, with the lifting, not only do we see it as an effective, call it, contract extension because the unit will not be terminated if there is a higher volume being produced. And secondly, we think also the removal of the cap pave way for increased utilization of the ship, which we know is a requirement from our parent company's Golar point of view in terms of they would like to see increased utilization before discussing expansion. When it comes to how the increased over-production will be split, Stuart or Brian, is that something you have a clear view on?

Brian Tienzo -- Chief Financial Officer

Hi, Karl. It's Brian here. Just very briefly, so as everyone will remember, the reason that GMLP bought into the Hilli initially was for the cash flows that flow through the initial contract that didn't immediately contemplate the changes to the tolling agreement. So, to that effect, what these changes do mainly is really for the benefits of the common units that reside at GLNG and the other shareholders within GLNGs, namely Keppel and Black & Veatch hold a very minority shareholding. There is a small amount of residual benefit to GMLP, because it does also have a sort of interest in any expansion revenue coming out of these type of changes. But the vast majority go to GLNG and to those other shareholders, namely Keppel and Black & Veatch.

Stuart Buchanan -- Head of Investor Relations

And just to the last part of your question there. The total amount that we expect to receive in respect of over-production from 2018 through to the end of 2019 is $5.1 million. And as Brian said, the high percentage of that, around 88% of that will be for Golar LNG's account with 10% for Keppel's account and a very small percentage potentially for Golar Partners account. But the total is $5.1 million shared roughly according to those percentages.

Chris Tsung -- Webber Research -- Analyst

Great. Through 2019 and then you guys would build for 2020 later in Q4 or early Q1. Is that right?

Stuart Buchanan -- Head of Investor Relations

So, for 2020, we expect to bill in early Q1. And if we've over-produced, that will be additional to the $5.1 million that you mentioned earlier.

Chris Tsung -- Webber Research -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thanks. And just a quick question on the refinancing for the seven vessels. Are you guys planning to close this in Q4 or is it an early 2021 event?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

I think the company would obviously like to get that transaction done as soon as possible. And we're definitely pushing forward to close it as soon as possible. I think there are two considerations from the bank side. One of them is that generally banks are more happy to fund early in the new year than late in an old year. So that might push timing. And the other one is the outcome of general syndication, how well received the contemplated facility is and how long we will need in order to syndicate the balance of the amount we're seeking. So those are the two considerations. Given that we're now 30th of November and we're saying that there is a potential chance we could go this year, we're certainly making some progress, but I don't think we want to commit right now to which side of the year this should come under but we are targeting to close this as soon as possible.

Chris Tsung -- Webber Research -- Analyst

All right. Great. Thanks, guys. I'll turn it over.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Ben Nolan from Stifel. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Ben Nolan -- Stifel -- Analyst

Yeah, thanks. So I have a couple. First of all, just on the Igloo that I believe still has the seasonal adjustments as part of the contract and sometimes December is including, sometimes it's not. Any color there as to whether or not we should think of revenue generation on the Igloo for December?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

You're right that she's got essentially a contract for almost 10 out of 12 months, it's actually just over 10 months. And normally, the maintenance window falls in the winter months. And as we guided in this presentation, we do not expect Q4 earnings to be materially different from Q3. So you should expect the maintenance window to fall within the first quarter and not in Q4.

Ben Nolan -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. And then, also curious as it relates to the Spirit you'd mentioned possibility or two new potential contracts that could start in 2022. I guess, first of all, are either of those to Hygo? And in terms of when you would expect those to be announced in order to make a 2022 start-up, is that something that happens in the first half of next year?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

In terms of the latter part of your question, yes, it would happen in the first half because you would need to activate and likely do certain upgrades to the vessel dependent on what type of contract it would get. Out of the contract discussions for Spirit, one of them is Hygo-related.

Ben Nolan -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. All right. Well, that's my two questions. I appreciate. Thank you.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And your next question comes from the line of Ken Hoexter from Bank of America. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Ken Hoexter -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Hi. Good afternoon, Karl. The status of the Golar Mazo, what the cost to remove it from lay-up? And if spot rates are trending above 50,000, do you look to operate that in the market near term?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

That's an interesting question. So she's in cold lay-up in Indonesia at the moment. The biggest cost of getting her back into operation is taking her through class. So, we -- it's basically a decision to take a true class whether the current rate support it? Yes, on the spot market. On term, most likely not for a steam vessel. So we are most likely considering her to be activated for a floating storage assignment to be used as an FSRU?

Ken Hoexter -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Yeah. And then, you noted -- well, I guess, your vessel opex was up $1.5 million sequentially, given some of the logistics. Maybe just talk about your expectations going forward. Is this kind of peak level and then you see it declining given some of these COVID expenses or given there are no costs from some of your laid up vessels if they do end up coming on in any fashion, you see that climbing? Maybe just thoughts on opex.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. So when it comes to opex, I think the quarter is pretty much in line. We had obviously the full first quarter of Mazo being fully idle. Of course, opex will increase if we activate Mazo and/or Spirit. But then, again, we wouldn't activate it if we didn't have earnings that far surpassed operating cost naturally. We need some return both for that service and for shareholders or unitholders. So I think that you should suspect that the current opex should remain more or less sort of run rate. Obviously, with the caveat that it should increase if we were to charter any of the units, but then it would be with a more than corresponding increase in revenues.

Ken Hoexter -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Would that -- I'm sorry, just to clarify though, would opex not come down then if you noted that it was spiked up on some of these COVID expenses or do you really see this as a good run rate for opex?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

I think basically across the fleet in Golar, we are doing various initiatives to reduce the opex. I think last quarter, we had some catch-up work to do and some inside the maintenance window but we think largely the current rate is more or less in line with how we should see it going forward.

Ken Hoexter -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Great. Appreciate. Thanks, Karl. Thank you.

Operator

Sir, we got another question comes from the line of Greg Lewis from BTIG. Please go ahead. Your line is open.

Greg Lewis -- BTIG -- Analyst

Yeah, hey. Thank you. And afternoon, Karl. I was hoping you could talk a little bit more about the opportunities for some of the cold lay-up steam vessels. It's interesting because if we were to look a handful of years ago, it seemed like a lot of the LNG infrastructure assets were going to be newbuilds, they were going to be big, they were going to be expensive. And now, it seems like the path of least resistance for some of these up in terminals and maybe some of these remote areas have been more around older steam vessels, whether that's for size or cost. And so just thinking about that kind of curious what you think is the opportunity not only for the cold lay-up vessels, but maybe for some of these other assets that are rolling off contract over time. Just really how you're thinking about that and the opportunity for maybe some of these steam vessels with the second life as infrastructure terminal whether it's an FSU-type opportunity?

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

So basically historically LNG infrastructure has been based on large scale operations. Basically it's been logged [Indecipherable] growing and very large LNG carrier into FSRUs servicing significant power plants just to give you some relation to scale on the FSRU in Hygo, that's servicing the Sergipe power plant, which is a 1.65 gigawatt plant. At full capacity of the plant, it would only utilize one-third of the regas capacity of the FSRU. So, historically this has been very large, very expensive capex projects for large infrastructure assets.

Now that LNG is becoming more abundant and also trading in smaller parcel sizes and we also do see a steep incline in the amount of cargoes being traded in the spot markets, you can actually get the hold of LNG. You open up the market to industrial off-takers that are keen to do the sort of greener and cleaner and not to say cheaper substitution to LNG, but then they need infrastructure that is fit for purpose. And doing large expensive projects in such regions simply doesn't make sense. So therefore redeploying steamers where you've depreciated the book value to a level where you can defend using such assets for adoption in emerging markets is really how we see these units being utilized.

And potentially, as I alluded to, storage units where you can have them either anchored up and distribute small scale volumes by ISO containers or otherwise from the ship or from small scale ship distribution from a ship that sits offshore somewhere. So, a lot of opportunities like that, especially in Southeast America and Southeast Asia, is what we're looking into.

Hello?

Operator

Hello, sir. Are you done with your question?

Greg Lewis -- BTIG -- Analyst

I think we are.

Operator

Okay. So, No more questions at this moment. Please continue.

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Okay. With that, I would thank you all for dialing in and for your interest in Golar Partners. And we look forward to provide you hopefully with an update on our financing in the not-too-distant future. And if not, we speak in connection with the Q1 results next year. So thank you all -- for Q4. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 37 minutes

Call participants:

Karl Fredrik Staubo -- Chief Executive Officer

Brian Tienzo -- Chief Financial Officer

Stuart Buchanan -- Head of Investor Relations

Randy Giveans -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Liam Burke -- B. Riley -- Analyst

Chris Tsung -- Webber Research -- Analyst

Ben Nolan -- Stifel -- Analyst

Ken Hoexter -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Greg Lewis -- BTIG -- Analyst

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