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Shell Midstream Partners, LP (SHLX) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers – Jul 30, 2021 at 5:00PM

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SHLX earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2021.

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Shell Midstream Partners, LP (SHLX)
Q2 2021 Earnings Call
Jul 30, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning. My name is Kevin and I'll be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like to welcome everyone to today's Webcast for Shell Midstream Partners. [Operator Instructions] After the speakers' presentation there'll be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]

I will now turn the call over Jamie Parker, Investor Relations Officer. You may begin your conference.

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Jamie Parker -- Investor Relations Officer

Thank you. Welcome to date to today's webcast for Shell Midstream Partners. With me today are Steve Ledbetter, CEO; Shawn Carsten, CFO and Sean Guillory, VP Commercial and Business Development.

Slide 2 contains our safe harbor statement. We will be making forward-looking statements related to future events and expectations during the presentation and Q&A session. Actual results may differ materially from such statements, and factors that could cause actual results to be different are included here as well as in today's press release and under Risk Factors in our filings with the SEC. Today's call also contains certain non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to the earnings press release and Appendix 1 of this presentation for important disclosures regarding such measures, including reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP financial measures. We will take questions at the end of the presentation.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Steve Ledbetter.

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Thanks, Jamie. Good morning, and welcome to our second quarter earnings webcast. Overall, our assets performed well for the quarter. I'm proud that our people and assets continue to show strength in the face of ongoing volatility.

Some key operational highlights for the quarter include continued resilience in the Gulf of Mexico as a whole with new tiebacks into our Delta system coming online. In the onshore Zydeco volumes are up approximately 8% since last quarter, and I'm pleased to report the system is now almost fully contracted through May 2022, which continues to demonstrate the strategic value of that asset to our business. Additionally, we saw a significant uptick in Explorer primarily due to refinery turnarounds in the Midwest.

You've heard me speak to our own business improvement efforts that we've taken over the past several months, all to increase competitiveness and ensure longer term sustainability. We are on track to deliver against our $30 million to $40 million commitment by year-end. In summary, our portfolio has proven resilient throughout a pandemic that has affected markets globally, and we've taken a number of measures internally to stay cost efficient. But as I look ahead to the medium term, the partnership faces significant headwinds. As you know, the distribution waiver from our general partner ended with the first quarter distribution and the partnership's preferred units are eligible for conversion in 2022. Also, our business has yet to see a full return to normal in the market.

As we've seen in recent days COVID infection rates driven by new variants continue to gain momentum and we cannot predict how that will impact the macro environment as we still continue to see softness in regional demand that our refined product line serve. Further there is additional uncertainty around Colonial. As previously announced, Colonial's Board decided to not pay a dividend this quarter, and it is our view that some of the challenges Colonial is facing in particular the ongoing FERC rate case could have a negative impact on its future dividends.

And with all of this, we made the difficult decision to rebase our quarterly distribution to $0.30 per common unit. Now we believe this measure helps ensure the partnership's financial health and will allow us to navigate the headwinds we see for our business in the near to mid-term. In addition, we believe the rebase of the distribution provides a sustainable financial framework and affords us the optionality to pursue projects that will build upon our diverse portfolio, all of which we believe will enhance unit holder value as we move forward.

Shawn will provide some insights into what this distribution reset means to our refreshed financial framework. But before turning it over, I want to revisit some of the fundamentals of Shell Midstream Partners. First and foremost, we believe in our diversified asset base, which connects key supply areas to strategic market centers across the country. The long-term resilience of the Gulf and our advantageous position there will continue to serve us well. And when combined with our onshore Gulf Coast logistics assets we believe our partnership remains well positioned to receive relatively stable long-term cash flows.

As evidence of our Gulf of Mexico Corridor strategy in action, we continue to see capital dollars being put to work and there are a number of tiebacks, which bringing volume into our systems in the near and mid-term. For example BP's Manuel Prospect and other producers are expected to bring an estimated incremental 15,000 to 20,000 barrels a day into our Delta and NaKika systems in the second half of 2021 with more on the horizon. This will provide incremental cash to the partnership with no capital outlay.

Further, I'm pleased to share that the Mars expansion project reached a major milestone just last month when the pump module was set in place on the West Delta 143 platform. As discussed previously, this project will increase our capacity in the corridor by approximately 65,000 barrels per day and remains an integral component of our growth in the Gulf. We expect definitive agreements with producers to be finalized in the near term and the project is on schedule to be completed in advance of additional volumes in 2022 from Shell's Powernap and Vito developments.

Now moving to the onshore. We continue to explore opportunities taking advantage of our existing asset base with the unfolding market dynamics. As just one example, in our first quarter earnings webcast we highlighted the possible expansion of our Lockport facility to take advantage of efforts to move barrels south on the announced capline reversal and we continue to evaluate options that provide solutions to customers moving barrels to St. James and the refinery complex in Louisiana and onto the water via LOOP.

As we progress these projects through various stage gates, we are seeing increased interest from a wide base of potential partners and customers. We have several opportunities we are evaluating to take advantage of our positions in both the Gulf of Mexico and onshore. And as these opportunities move to a higher degree of certainty, we will come to the market with them at that time. In closing, I'm excited about Shell Midstream's future as we leverage our diversified portfolio of assets and the capabilities of our team to deliver long-term value to unitholders.

So with that, I will now hand the call over to Shawn.

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Great. Thanks, Steve. As I reflect on the quarter our assets have continued to perform in this challenging pandemic environment. So first, let me cover a few of our key financial metrics for the quarter.

Our total revenue was $148 million, an increase of $9 million from the first quarter. Now this was primarily related to increased throughput on Zydeco as newly committed contracts started in the second quarter bringing our mainline contracted capacity to 350,000 barrels per day. We also recognized increased product revenue related to allowance oil sales during the quarter. Now all this increase was partially offset by lower offshore throughput when compared to the first quarter.

Our operating expense was $83 million, up about $8 million from the prior quarter. Now this was primarily related to timing of project spend on our Zydeco and Norco assets along with an increase in the cost of allowance oil sales. Our income from equity investments was $105 million up $3 million for the prior quarter, mostly due to increased volumes on Explorer as it benefited from longer than expected refinery turnarounds in the Midwest during this quarter. All these increases were partially offset by decreased earnings from Colonial.

With all this, adjusted EBITDA attributable to the partnership was $207 million and after interest expense, maintenance capital, and other adjustments, total cash available for distribution was $186 million. It's important to note that in the second quarter, the partnership recognized a one-time cash help of $10 million from the previously announced Anacortes asset swap as well as $2 million related to the Auger 12 inch segment. Now without these one-time cash receipts, our cash available for distribution would have been about $174 million and our coverage would have been less than 1 times under our prior distribution levels. Our partnership declared a distribution of $0.30 per LP unit. Now this resulted in a coverage ratio for the quarter of 1.6 times.

So now, let me turn to the partnership's balance sheet and liquidity. As of June 30, the partnership had total debt outstanding of $2.7 billion, which equates to a debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 3.3 times based on an annualized Q2 adjusted EBITDA. We believe in the strength of our balance sheet as it provides us flexibility to navigate these turbulent times.

So now, let me quickly provide a few updates for the rest of the year. In the Gulf, we expect to see an impact from planned turnaround activity of approximately $6 million. Now part of this was previously disclosed $10 million that we expected in 2021, and we anticipate the Explorer throughput to come down as the Midwest refinery -- refiners are now back up and running at normal rates. I will note that while refined products demand has improved. We are still not at pre-COVID levels.

And as I close, let me move to our refreshed financial framework because I think through all the opportunities Steve walked through, I'm excited about the future prospects for our partnership. With a renewed financial framework and strong balance sheet, we have both the strength to weather the current headwinds and the added flexibility to drive increased long-term value to our unitholders. Now with this flexibility comes a responsibility to effectively manage and deploy potential excess cash in ways that add value to our unitholders. So we will take into account the following guidelines when considering uses for any of the excess cash.

First of all, I expect our distribution coverage to average 1.1 times or greater. We look to maintain investment grade balance sheet targeting between 3 to 3.5 times debt-to-adjusted EBITDA levels. Now this is consistent with prior guidance from the past. We expect to pursue smaller, highly accretive projects that deliver relatively quick paybacks and we're going to look for opportunities to return capital to our unitholders, which could include opportunistic buybacks. And lastly, if markets allow and it's in our shareholders -- our unitholders best interest, we have the ability to acquire assets from Shell's runway. As I close, we're energized about the future of the partnership and we believe in our ability to drive long-term value as we employ our diversified asset base to move America's energy.

So with all that, we will now take your questions. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Shneur Gershuni of UBS.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS Securities LLC -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, everyone. Just to start off, really just a quick question I don't want to really delever this and so forth, but I just kind of wanted to understand the decision around the distribution rightsizing and I don't want to couple crosses being opposed to it I think it does make sense, I was just curious about specifically the timing. A lot of the drivers that you mentioned on the conference call were known a couple of quarters ago and so forth, was it really just about the timing around the waiver exploration that drove the decision or were there some other factors?

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Hey, Shneur. Good morning. This is Steve. I'll take that question. As it relates to the timing, I mean first of all, what I'd like to say is I'm proud of the performance of the business and the team despite what's going on with the continued volatility and uncertainty as the pandemic continues to to rage and actually increase in some areas.

As far as the timing goes, I think there was a couple of notable items that -- one-time benefits that we don't expect to see moving forward that as Shawn articulated without would have -- without the rebase would have put our coverage below 1. The first one was associated with Explorer and the increase in terms of value we saw there associated with the the refiner -- refineries being in turnaround in the Midwest. And we are back online now and we don't expect that to continue. As we mentioned the demand has continued to be soft and not back to pre-COVID levels.

The second one I'd say is that uplift from the balancing payment for the recent asset swap between Zydeco and Anacortes. So that is really around the timing but in general the components that went into it I think altogether made sense for us to do that this quarter. But as we mentioned, softness continues, there is a high degree of uncertainty in terms of demand, the pandemic impacts continue to linger, and in particular Colonial recently elected not to declare the second quarter dividend primarily given the headwinds around the uncertainty of the pending rate case as well as that cyber attack and the hundreds that they'll repair.

Our internal view of the rate case from the analysis we've done is that we believe there is potential for a negative outcome and the reduced dividend makes them longer than the one quarter. In addition to that we're entering -- now, we're in the midst of hurricane season and while it's been late thus far we've got a long way to go.

And then as you mentioned, yes, the distribution waiver rolling off after Q1 and the preferred units becoming eligible for conversion next year, those headwinds kind of drove us to the decision to take the rebase now. Again, wanted to reiterate that will allow us to average 1.1 times or greater for this foreseeable future.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS Securities LLC -- Analyst

Okay, got it. Maybe if we can pivot to Slide number 7 where you kind of lay out the framework, it's kind of interesting to me that you put return of capital second and then dropdowns third, was that on purpose from a signaling perspective, is dropdown still something that you're going to consider? I would imagine that post distribution cut you can actually equity fund internally acquisitions from Shell, so just kind of wondering how we should think about in terms of priorities here? You get to 3 times levered, are you buying back units or are you buying assets from Shell? Just kind of curious how we should think about the right order of priorities after small bolt-ons and quick payback projects?

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. And Shneur, this is Shawn. Hope you're doing well. Actually you should read into the order on the slide. These are just a menu of options that we'll use with our excess cash as we have any. As Steve highlighted earlier we expect some headwinds in the foreseeable future so we'll go through that, but at some point we will have and we expect to have excess cash and we'll deploy it at the appropriate time when it makes sense and where it makes more sense for unitholders. And so I don't think I would read into the order on this slide in terms of priorities. It's just a menu of options that we have.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS Securities LLC -- Analyst

Okay. So we -- the take away is you have excess cash flow now. If you get to 3 times leverage or some leverage level like we should either expect to see a return of capital or we should see you growing the business.

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

We're not guiding on how you should necessarily interpret that, so we'll have more guidance as we move along over the next quarters I think.

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS Securities LLC -- Analyst

Cool. Perfect. All right, thank you very much. Really appreciate it and have a great weekend.

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Theresa Chen with Barclays.

Theresa Chen -- Barclays -- Analyst

Hi, there and thank you for taking my question. So maybe first starting on the future of Colonial since it seems like you've already done some work around it, Steve. When you say that the outcome of the rate case it could be negative can you just remind us what are the shippers asking for at this point like the magnitude of decrease since I think it was several dockets now consolidated into one? And then what -- where do you think if we could shake out as far as the percentage decrease to the weighted average rate?

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Yes. I mean again that's hard to -- Thanks, Theresa. That's hard to determine at this point. What we do believe and in our view given all the analysis and modeling that we've seen is that there could be a negative outcome, which again would challenge the potential further cash distributions more than just one quarter. For specifics around the rate case, I'd point you back to Colonial for any more detail.

Theresa Chen -- Barclays -- Analyst

Okay, and then just on your affiliate FID of Whale, is there any way SHLX can participate in that from a infrastructure perspective, and if so, what kind of economics can that generate for you?

Sean Guillory -- Vice President, Commercial

Hi, Theresa. This is Sean Guillory. I'll go ahead and take that one and thanks for the question. What I would tell you is that we're extremely excited to see the continued activity in the Gulf of Mexico and the Whale project itself is just another proof point of the continued investment and resilience that you see in the basin. The oilfield itself is in the western Gulf -- area of the Gulf of Mexico and that's, if you look at our maps scenario, that SHLX doesn't currently have any corridor pipeline but what I'll tell you is we're still evaluating how we can expand our presence in the West and combining that with the multiple opportunities we have in the Central and Eastern Gulf to grow both volume and value for SHLX unitholders as we move forward.

Theresa Chen -- Barclays -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Doug Irwin with Credit Suisse.

Doug Irwin -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hey, everyone. Thanks for the question. Maybe a follow up on dropdowns, which it sounds like are still kind of wait and see. I know you've talked about the South in Falcon Ethane system as a potential dropdown candidate at one point, I think that petchem facility is still under construction. I'm just curious what the rest of the backlog looks like if you could provide any sort of color on what other types of assets might be available for dropdown, maybe if there is even anything tied to some of the sponsors' and a few transition efforts that might make sense for SHLX?

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Yes. Thanks. This is Steve. The Falcon pipeline, as you mentioned, mechanically complete, waiting for start-up of the plant. There's several other midstream assets and there is a wide array of assets that could be accessed should the market suggest and make sense for the partnership. Given what we see right now that might make sense, but as we've talked about with our financial framework, it is a menu option that we can access at the right time.

Doug Irwin -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, got it. Thank you. And then I guess you mentioned I guess on organic projects with the potential Lockport project around the capline reversal just curious kind of on a broader level if you can talk about maybe some of the changing dynamics around St. James with that reversal coming online and maybe what kind of opportunities are there for SHLX and what projects could look like in terms of being able to leverage export markets. Would they be kind of more greenfield-type projects, is there potential to maybe reverse some types that are already on the system? Just curious what opportunities are out there as well.

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Okay. I'll try to unpack and there was a lot there, a lot in that one, so maybe I'll give a bit of a high level view of the types of things and kind of our screening criteria and then I'll have Shawn talk a little bit more about the specifics of Lockport and a couple of others. As we look forward to deploy capital again, we're going to do the thing that makes the most sense for the unit holder. But we do see opportunity to defend and grow our heartlands that's both Gulf of Mexico as well as onshore.

The way we are looking at projects to take advantage of the market, our assets in the ground we see -- now command a bit of a strategic premium at this point and the way we evaluate the projects and screening criteria is relatively quick paybacks with kind of a mid-teens type returns. And depending on the type of solution for those projects we look at capital in the area from $10 million to $50 million, but that depends on how we play those cards and unfold the solutions for the customers. We continue to evaluate several of them.

So with that, I'll turn it to Sean to give you a bit of color on the two projects that we've talked about.

Sean Guillory -- Vice President, Commercial

Yes. Thanks, Steve. I appreciate the question and thank you for that. Now what I would tell you is that right now we believe that one of our competitive advantages is our diversified footprint with assets in the ground, and as you've mentioned the ability to provide connectivity to the key market centers in the Gulf Coast in the Midwest. Right now, there are number of opportunities that we're developing but still haven't been FIDed but have a range of potential capital outlays.

Steve talked a bit about Lockport, potential Lockport project with -- now the capital we could spend on that would be available for tents and available connections. But I would also draw you to another part of our heartlands, which is developing projects in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly in the western part of the Gulf of Mexico that will provide one of our key corridor assets the ability to capture future developments in the near future. And similar to what Steve mentioned before in terms of the capital outlay and in the range of capital we could spend on it could possibly be $30 million to $50 million. But when we have something a bit more definitive on all those opportunities we'll come back to the market at that time.

Doug Irwin -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay, got it. I appreciate the extra detail and I will leave it there.

Operator

The next question comes from Gabe Moreen with Mizuho.

Gabriel Moreen -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Hey. Good morning, everyone. I just had a quick questions on the prefs that your parent owns. Is it -- at this point, is it fair to say that your assumption is that those prefs will actually convert at this point or do you think there is still some uncertainty around that?

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

You see -- so I wouldn't read through that there's certainty that they will convert. Certainly, that's an option that the sponsor has. The way we've rebased the distribution and the financial framework, we have accommodated for whatever headwinds exist that we can -- that we could foresee and will allow us to average a 1.1 times coverage for the foreseeable future.

Gabriel Moreen -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Okay. That was helpful in terms of answering that. And then the dropdowns if you've done from your parent, previously you've been quite sizable I guess by and large, I'm not sure what the average transaction value has been, certainly been up there, would it be possible to do smaller transactions. I mean clearly with -- potentially a free cash flow profile has improved, I'm just wondering from a sizing standpoint if you'd also be open to doing some smaller transactions not just the bigger one?

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

I think it's a good point and a good question and certainly the rebasing or the distribution in the financial framework gives us a menu of options and that includes smaller things and using some of the cash to make the best decision to grow accretion for all the unitholders. So that certainly is in the slate of potential.

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And Gabe, this is Shawn. I think if you look back in history they're all part of a bigger transaction, but oftentimes we had the ability to take smaller portions, right. So we acquired as part of our sponsors' ownership and Explorer over time, right. And so we have not infinite but a number of opportunities to -- in ways to make transactions happen.

Gabriel Moreen -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks, guys.

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Thanks.

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, thanks.

Operator

Our next question comes from Derek Walker with Bank of America.

Derek Walker -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Hey. Good morning, guys. Maybe just a follow-up on Gabe's question. Just on the 1.1 coverage, is there any other -- Steve, I know you talked to sort of catch --capture sort of the headwinds that you see but is there anything else that we should think about just kind of baked into that assumption, is it the -- just the preferred converting, do you have -- are you assuming no distribution from Colonial or just a reduced distribution, any other things that we can think about just like refined product demand not coming back as quickly, what other factors are kind of factored into that 1.1 number?

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Yes. I think what you're looking for is a bit more specificity, and I can appreciate that. We have taken into account our view of many of the headwinds including the view of the rate case and, from all the analysis we've done, potential for a negative outcome with reduced distributions that makes them longer than one quarter. Again from a conservative perspective and all the headwinds that we know about and can model, this rebase puts us in a position to meet the 1.1 -- to average 1.1 times coverage moving forward.

Derek Walker -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Got it, and then maybe just a quick one on the cost saves. I know your target's the $30 million to $40 million, have you -- is that -- where do you guys stand on that and if you see any opportunities for further cost reductions. Thanks.

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Yes. Great. I'm very proud of our business and the team and how we've gone and looked at that. It's comprised of many different things, multi-skilling, rebasing third-party contractor usage, logistics, optimization and rebalancing projects, procurement strategy, etc. It takes all of that to get done very well to deliver this $30 million to $40 million run rate me as we exit 2021 and we are on path to do that. Now having said that, we will, as part of our base business, have a continuous journey to look to optimize and take additional value and costs out of the -- increase value and take additional cost out of the system.

Derek Walker -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you very much, Steve, Shawn. Thank you. Bye.

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Thanks.

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thanks.

Operator

And there are no further questions at this time. I'd like to turn the call back to Jamie Parker.

Jamie Parker -- Investor Relations Officer

Thank you very much for your interest in Shell Midstream Partners. If you have any additional follow-up questions following today's presentation, please feel free to give me a call directly. My contact information can be found on the presentation materials so as on our website shellmidstreampartners.com. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 29 minutes

Call participants:

Jamie Parker -- Investor Relations Officer

Steven C. Ledbetter -- Director, Chief Executive Officer and President

Shawn Carsten -- Director, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sean Guillory -- Vice President, Commercial

Shneur Gershuni -- UBS Securities LLC -- Analyst

Theresa Chen -- Barclays -- Analyst

Doug Irwin -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Gabriel Moreen -- Mizuho Securities -- Analyst

Derek Walker -- Bank of America -- Analyst

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