Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Basis of Presentation and Certain Significant Accounting Policies

v3.6.0.2
Basis of Presentation and Certain Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2016
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Basis of Presentation and Certain Significant Accounting Policies
Basis of Presentation and Certain Significant Accounting Policies
(a)
Basis of Presentation
The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of Alon USA Energy, Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries. All significant intercompany balances and transactions have been eliminated.
(b)
Use of Estimates
These consolidated financial statements have been prepared in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America (“U.S. GAAP”), which requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of the consolidated financial statements and the reported amounts of revenues and expenses during the reporting period. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
(c)
Revenue Recognition
Revenues from sales of refined products are earned and realized upon transfer of title to the customer based on the contractual terms of delivery (including payment terms and prices). Generally, title transfers at the refinery or terminal when the refined product is loaded into the common carrier pipelines, trucks or railcars (free on board origin). In some situations, title transfers at the customer’s destination (free on board destination).
We occasionally enter into refined product buy/sell arrangements, which involve linked purchases and sales related to refined product sales contracts entered into to address location, quality or grade requirements. These buy/sell transactions are included on a net basis in sales in the consolidated statements of operations and profits are recognized when the exchanged product is sold.
Revenues from our inventory financing agreements (Note 10) are reported on a gross basis as we are considered a principal in these agreements.
In the ordinary course of business, logistical and refinery production schedules necessitate the occasional sale of crude oil to third parties. All purchases and sales of crude oil are recorded net, in cost of sales in the consolidated statements of operations.
Excise taxes on sales by our retail segment are presented on a gross basis. Supplemental information regarding the amount of such taxes included in revenues are provided in a footnote on the face of the consolidated statements of operations. All other excise taxes are presented on a net basis in the consolidated statements of operations.
(d)
Cost Classifications
Refining and marketing cost of sales includes crude oil, blending materials, RINs and other raw materials, inclusive of transportation costs, which include costs associated with our crude oil and product pipelines. Asphalt cost of sales includes costs of purchased asphalt, blending materials and transportation costs. Retail cost of sales includes motor fuels and merchandise. Retail fuel cost of sales represents the cost of purchased fuel, including transportation costs and associated excise taxes. Merchandise cost of sales includes the delivered cost of merchandise purchases, net of merchandise rebates and commissions. Cost of sales excludes depreciation and amortization, which is presented separately in the consolidated statements of operations.
Cost of sales for the year ended December 31, 2015 includes proceeds from insurance recoveries of $10,868 related to a business interruption insurance claim at our Krotz Springs refinery.
Direct operating expenses, which relate to our refining and marketing and asphalt segments, include costs associated with the actual operations of our refineries and terminals, such as energy and utility costs, routine maintenance, labor, insurance and environmental compliance costs.
Selling, general and administrative expenses consist primarily of costs relating to the operations of the convenience stores, including labor, utilities, maintenance and retail corporate overhead costs. Refining and marketing and asphalt segments corporate overhead and marketing expenses are also included in selling, general and administrative expenses.
Interest expense includes interest expense on debt, letters of credit, financing costs associated with crude oil purchases, financing fees, and both the amortization and write-off of original issuance discount and deferred debt issuance costs but excludes capitalized interest. Original issuance discount and debt issuance costs are amortized over the term of the related debt using the effective interest method.
(e)
Cash and Cash Equivalents
All highly-liquid instruments with a maturity of three months or less at the time of purchase are considered to be cash equivalents. Cash equivalents are stated at cost, which approximates market value.
(f)
Accounts Receivable
Financial instruments that potentially subject us to concentration of credit risk consist primarily of trade accounts receivables. Credit is extended based on evaluation of the customer’s financial condition. We perform ongoing credit evaluations of our customers and require letters of credit, prepayments or other collateral or guarantees as management deems appropriate. Allowance for doubtful accounts is based on a combination of current sales and specific identification methods.
Credit risk is minimized as a result of the ongoing credit assessment of our customers and a lack of concentration in our customer base. Credit losses are charged to allowance for doubtful accounts when deemed uncollectible. Our allowance for doubtful accounts is reflected as a reduction of accounts receivable in the consolidated balance sheets.
(g)
Inventories
Crude oil, refined products, blendstocks and asphalt (including crude oil consignment inventory) are stated at the lower of cost or market. Cost is determined using the last-in, first-out (“LIFO”) inventory valuation method and market is determined using current estimated selling prices. Under the LIFO valuation method, the most recently incurred costs are charged to cost of sales and inventories are valued at the earliest acquisition costs. In periods of rapidly declining prices, LIFO inventories may have to be written down to market value due to the higher costs assigned to LIFO layers in prior periods. An inventory write-down to market value results in a non-cash accounting adjustment, decreasing the value of our inventory and increasing our cost of sales. Such charges are subject to reversal in subsequent periods, not to exceed LIFO cost, if prices recover. In addition, the use of the LIFO inventory method may result in increases or decreases to cost of sales in years when inventory volumes decline and result in charging cost of sales with LIFO inventory costs generated in prior periods.
Materials and supplies are stated at average cost. Cost for retail merchandise inventories is determined under the retail inventory method and cost for retail fuel inventories is determined under the first-in, first-out (“FIFO”) method.
Crude oil inventory consigned to others represents inventory that was sold to third parties, which we are obligated to repurchase at the end of the respective agreements (Note 10). As a result of this requirement to repurchase the inventory, no revenue was recorded on these transactions and the inventory volumes remain valued under the LIFO method.
(h)
Hedging Activity
All derivative instruments are recorded in the consolidated balance sheets as either assets or liabilities measured at their fair value. We consider all commodity forwards, futures, swaps and option contracts to be part of our risk management strategy. For commodity derivative contracts not designated as cash flow hedges, the net unrealized gains and losses for changes in fair value are recognized in cost of sales on the consolidated statements of operations.
We selectively designate certain commodity derivative contracts and interest rate derivatives as cash flow hedges. The effective portion of the gains or losses associated with these derivative contracts designated and qualifying as cash flow hedges are initially recorded in accumulated other comprehensive income in the consolidated balance sheet and reclassified into the statement of operations in the period in which the underlying hedged forecasted transaction affects income. The amounts recorded into the consolidated statement of operations for commodity derivative contracts are recognized as cost of sales and the amounts recorded for interest rate derivatives are recognized as interest expense. The ineffective portion of the gains or losses on the derivative contracts, if any, is recognized in the consolidated statement of operations as it is incurred.
Derivative transactions related to our inventory financing agreements have been designated as fair value hedges of inventory. The gain or loss on the derivative instrument designated and qualifying as a fair value hedge, as well as the offsetting gain or loss on the hedged item attributable to the hedged risk, is recognized in earnings in the same period.
(i)
Property, Plant and Equipment
The carrying value of property, plant and equipment includes the fair value of the asset retirement obligation and has been reflected in the consolidated balance sheets at cost, net of accumulated depreciation.
Property, plant and equipment, net of salvage value, are depreciated using the straight-line method at rates based on the estimated useful lives for the assets or groups of assets, beginning in the first month of operation following acquisition or completion. The useful lives used to determine depreciation for our assets are as follows:
Refining facilities
3 – 20 years
Pipelines and terminals
5 – 25 years
Retail
5 – 40 years
Other
3 – 15 years

We capitalize interest costs associated with major construction projects based on the effective interest rate on aggregate borrowings. Leasehold improvements are depreciated on the straight-line method over the shorter of the contractual lease terms or the estimated useful lives.
Expenditures for major replacements and additions are capitalized. Refining and marketing segment and asphalt segment expenditures for routine repairs and maintenance costs are charged to direct operating expense as incurred. Retail segment routine repairs and maintenance costs are charged to selling, general and administrative expense as incurred. The applicable costs and accumulated depreciation of assets that are sold, retired, or otherwise disposed of are removed from the accounts and the resulting gain or loss is recognized as a gain or loss on disposition of assets in the consolidated statements of operations.
(j)
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets and Assets to be Disposed Of
We review long-lived assets and certain identifiable intangible assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of such assets may not be recoverable. Recoverability of assets to be held and used is measured by a comparison of the carrying value of an asset to future net cash flows expected to be generated by the asset. If the carrying value of an asset exceeds its expected future cash flows, an impairment loss is recognized based on the excess of the carrying value of the impaired asset over its fair value. The future cash flows and fair values used in this assessment are estimates based on management’s judgment and assumptions. Assets to be disposed of are reported at the lower of the carrying amount or fair value less costs of disposition.
(k)
Asset Retirement Obligations
We have asset retirement obligations with respect to our refineries due to various legal obligations to clean and/or dispose of these assets at the time they are retired. However, the majority of these assets can be used for extended and indeterminate periods of time provided that they are properly maintained and/or upgraded. It is our practice and intent to continue to maintain these assets and make improvements based on technological advances. When a date or range of dates can reasonably be estimated for the retirement of these assets or any component part of these assets, we will estimate the cost of performing the retirement activities and record a liability for the fair value of that cost using established present value techniques.
We also have asset retirement obligations with respect to the removal of underground storage tanks and the removal of brand signage at our owned and leased retail sites. The asset retirement obligation for storage tank removal on leased retail sites is accreted over the expected life of the underground storage tank, which approximates the average retail site lease term (Note 14).
(l)
Turnarounds and Catalysts Costs
Our refinery units require regular major maintenance and repairs that are commonly referred to as “turnarounds.” Catalysts used in certain refinery process units are typically replaced in conjunction with planned turnarounds. We record the turnaround and catalysts costs as deferred charges in other assets in the consolidated balance sheets. We amortize the deferred costs on a straight-line basis over the period of time estimated until the next turnaround occurs (generally 3 to 5 years), beginning the month after the completion of the turnaround. The amortization of deferred turnaround and catalysts costs are presented in depreciation and amortization in our consolidated statements of operations.
(m)
Income Taxes
We account for income taxes under the asset and liability method. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are recognized for the future tax consequences attributable to differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax basis and operating loss and tax credit carryforwards. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the enactment date.
(n)
Stock-Based Compensation
Our stock-based compensation plan includes granting of awards in the form of options to purchase common stock, stock appreciation rights, restricted shares of common stock, restricted common stock units, performance shares, performance units and senior executive plan bonuses to our directors, officers and key employees. We use the grant date fair value based method for calculating and accounting for stock-based compensation. Expenses related to stock-based compensation are included in selling, general and administrative expenses in our consolidated statements of operations (Note 18).
(o)
Environmental Expenditures
Environmental expenditures are recorded to expense or capitalized depending on their future economic benefit. Expenditures that relate to an existing condition caused by past operations and that have no future economic benefit are expensed. Liabilities for expenditures of a non-capital nature are recorded when environmental assessment and/or remediation is probable, and the costs can be reasonably estimated. Environmental liabilities represent the estimated costs to investigate and remediate contamination at our properties. These estimates are based on internal and third-party assessments of the extent of the contaminations, the selected remediation technology and review of applicable environmental regulations.
Costs of future expenditures for environmental remediation obligations are not discounted to their present value unless payments are fixed or reliably determinable. Recoveries of environmental remediation costs from other parties are recorded as assets when the receipt is deemed probable. Estimates are updated to reflect changes in factual information, available technology or applicable laws and regulations (Note 22).
Substantially all amounts accrued are expected to be paid out over the next 15 years. The amount of future expenditures for environmental remediation obligations is impossible to determine with any degree of reliability.
(p)
Earnings (Loss) Per Share
We compute basic earnings (loss) per share by dividing net income (loss) available to common stockholders by the weighted average number of participating common shares outstanding during the reporting period. Diluted earnings (loss) per share are calculated to give effect to all potentially dilutive common shares that were outstanding during the period (Note 20).
(q)
Other Comprehensive Income
Comprehensive income consists of net income and other gains and losses affecting stockholders’ equity that, under U.S. GAAP, are excluded from net income, such as defined postretirement benefit plan adjustments and gains and losses related to certain derivative instruments designated in qualifying hedging relationships. The balance in accumulated other comprehensive loss, net of tax reported in the consolidated balance sheets consists of defined postretirement benefit plan adjustments and unrealized gains and losses on cash flow hedges.
(r)
Postretirement Benefits
We recognize the underfunded status of our defined pension and postretirement plans as a liability. Changes in the funded status of our defined pension and postretirement plans are recognized in other comprehensive income in the period the changes occur. The funded status represents the difference between the projected benefit obligation and the fair value of the plan assets. The projected benefit obligation is the present value of benefits earned to date by plan participants, including the effect of assumed future salary increases. Plan assets are measured at fair value. We use December 31, of each year as the measurement date for plan assets and obligations for all of our defined pension and postretirement plans.
(s)
Commitments and Contingencies
Liabilities for loss contingencies, arising from claims, assessments, litigation, fines and penalties and other sources are recorded when it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount of the assessment and/or remediation can be reasonably estimated. Legal costs incurred in connection with loss contingencies are expensed as incurred. Recoveries of environmental remediation costs from third parties, which are probable of realization, are separately recorded as assets, and are not offset against the related environmental liability.
(t)
Goodwill and Intangible Assets
Goodwill represents the excess of the cost of an acquired entity over the fair value of the assets acquired less liabilities assumed. Intangible assets are assets that lack physical substance (excluding financial assets). Goodwill acquired in a business combination and intangible assets with indefinite useful lives are not amortized and intangible assets with finite useful lives are amortized on a straight-line basis over 1 to 40 years. Goodwill and intangible assets not subject to amortization are tested for impairment annually or more frequently if events or changes in circumstances indicate the asset might be impaired. We use December 31, of each year as the valuation date for annual goodwill impairment testing purposes.
(u)
New Accounting Pronouncements
In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) and the International Accounting Standards Board jointly issued a comprehensive new revenue recognition standard that provides accounting guidance for all revenue arising from contracts to provide goods or services to customers. This standard is intended to improve comparability of revenue recognition practices across entities, industries, jurisdictions and capital markets. The standard allows for either full retrospective adoption or modified retrospective adoption. In August 2015, the FASB updated the guidance to include a one-year deferral of the effective date for the new revenue standard, making the requirements of the standard effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017, with early adoption permitted for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2016. We are evaluating the guidance to determine the method of adoption and the impact this standard will have on our consolidated financial statements and related disclosures. Based on our initial evaluation, though not currently quantified, the adoption of the standard is not expected to have a material impact on the timing of revenue recognized, results of operations or cash flows.
In November 2015, the FASB issued an accounting standards update simplifying the presentation of income taxes. This updated standard eliminates the current requirement to present deferred tax liabilities and assets as current and non-current in a classified balance sheet. Instead, all deferred tax assets and liabilities will be required to be classified as non-current in a single line item. The requirements from the updated standard are effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 31, 2016, and early adoption is permitted. The adoption of this update will result in the reclassification of current deferred income tax assets to non-current deferred income tax liabilities.
In February 2016, the FASB issued new guidance on the accounting for leases, which requires lessees to recognize assets and liabilities on the balance sheet for the present value of the rights and obligations created by all leases with terms of more than 12 months. The new guidance also will require disclosures designed to give financial statement users information on the amount, timing, and uncertainty of cash flows arising from leases. The requirements from this guidance are effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 31, 2018. We are evaluating the guidance to determine the impact this standard will have on our consolidated financial statements.
In March 2016, the FASB issued an accounting standards update to simplify some provisions in stock compensation accounting. The areas for simplification of this update involve the accounting for share-based payment transactions, including the income tax consequences, classification of awards as either equity or liabilities and classification of the statement of cash flows. This update will be effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2016, and early adoption is permitted. We do not expect application of this standard to have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements.
In June 2016, the FASB issued an accounting standards update requiring the measurement of all expected credit losses for financial assets held at the reporting date based on historical experience, current conditions, and reasonable and supportable forecasts. Financial institutions and other organizations will now use forward-looking information to better inform their credit loss estimates. The requirements from the updated standard are effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2019. We are evaluating the guidance to determine the impact this standard will have on our consolidated financial statements.
In August 2016, the FASB issued an accounting standards update addressing eight specific cash flow issues with the objective of eliminating the existing diversity in practice. The amendments from this update are effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017. We do not expect application of this standard to have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements.
In January 2017, the FASB issued new guidance that changes the definition of a business to assist entities with evaluating when a set of transferred assets and activities is a business. The amendments from this update are effective for interim and annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017. We do not expect application of this standard to have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements.