SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended
December 31, 2019
Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the transition period from _____ to _____.
Commission file number 000-50056
MARTIN MIDSTREAM PARTNERS L.P.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
4200 Stone Road Kilgore, Texas 75662
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Units representing limited partnership interests
The NASDAQ Global Select Market
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.
Yes ☐ No ☒
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 the past 90 days.
Yes ☒ No ☐
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 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit such files).
Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definition of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer", "smaller reporting company", and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, 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. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
Yes ☐ No ☒
As of June 30, 2019, 38,863,389 common units were outstanding. The aggregate market value of the common units held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of such date approximated $233,826,839 based on the closing sale price on that date. There were 38,944,389 of the registrant’s common units outstanding as of February 14, 2020.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE: None.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Unresolved Staff Comments
Mine Safety Disclosures
Market for Our Common Equity, Related Unitholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Selected Financial Data
Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk
Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Controls and Procedures
Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Principal Accounting Fees and Services
Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules
References in this annual report to "we," "ours," "us" or like terms when used in a historical context refer to the assets and operations of Martin Resource Management Corporation's business contributed to us in connection with our initial public offering on November 6, 2002. References in this annual report to "Martin Resource Management Corporation" refer to Martin Resource Management Corporation and its subsidiaries, unless the context otherwise requires. References in this annual report to the "Partnership" refer to Martin Midstream Partners L.P. and its subsidiaries, unless the content otherwise requires. You should read the following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this annual report. For more detailed information regarding the basis for presentation for the following information, you should read the notes to the consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report.
This annual report on Form 10-K includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended ("the Exchange Act"). Statements included in this annual report that are not historical facts (including any statements concerning plans and objectives of management for future operations or economic performance, or assumptions or forecasts related thereto), are forward-looking statements. These statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology including "forecast," "may," "believe," "will," "expect," "anticipate," "estimate," "continue" or other similar words. These statements discuss future expectations, contain projections of results of operations or of financial condition or state other "forward-looking" information. We and our representatives may from time to time make other oral or written statements that are also forward-looking statements.
These forward-looking statements 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. We caution that forward-looking statements are not guarantees and that actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements.
Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, actual results could differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements for a number of important reasons, including those discussed below in "Item 1A. Risk Factors - Risks Related to our Business."
We are a publicly traded limited partnership with a diverse set of operations focused primarily in the United States ("U.S.") Gulf Coast region. Our four primary business lines include:
Terminalling, processing, storage and packaging services for petroleum products and by-products, including the refining of naphthenic crude oil;
Land and marine transportation services for petroleum products and by-products, chemicals, and specialty products;
Sulfur and sulfur-based products processing, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution; and
Natural gas liquids ("NGL") marketing, distribution, and transportation services.
Our vertically integrated services have created longstanding relationships with a diversified customer base with a revenue-weighted average customer relationship of approximately 16.0 years. These customers include major and independent oil and gas companies, independent refiners, chemical companies, and other wholesale purchasers of certain petroleum products and by-products, with significant business concentrated around the U.S. Gulf Coast refinery complex, which is a major hub for petroleum refining, natural gas gathering and processing, and support services for the exploration and production industry. The petroleum products and by-products we gather, transport, store and market are produced primarily by major and independent oil and gas companies who often rely on third parties, such as us, for the transportation and disposition of these products.
We believe that we have become an integral part of the value chain for our customers by providing them with high value, niche services. We generate a significant amount of our revenues from fee-based businesses with a significant amount of the working capital demands and margin risk associated with the collective services that we and our sponsor, Martin Resource Management Corporation, provide to customers mainly assumed under contracts between such customers and Martin Resource Management Corporation. Our fixed fee and margin business provides a combination of long-term, spot and evergreen contracts.
We were formed in 2002 by Martin Resource Management Corporation, a privately-held company whose initial predecessor was incorporated in 1951 as a supplier of products and services to drilling rig contractors. Since then, Martin Resource Management Corporation has expanded its operations through acquisitions and internal expansion initiatives as its management identified and capitalized on the needs of producers and purchasers of petroleum products and by-products and other bulk liquids. Martin Resource Management Corporation is an important supplier and customer of ours. As of December 31, 2019, Martin Resource Management Corporation owned 15.7% of our total outstanding common limited partner units. Furthermore, Martin Resource Management Corporation controls Martin Midstream GP LLC ("MMGP"), our general partner, by virtue of its 51% voting interest in MMGP Holdings, LLC ("Holdings"), the sole member of MMGP. MMGP owns a 2.0% general partner interest in us and all of our incentive distribution rights. Martin Resource Management Corporation directs our business operations through its ownership interests in and control of our general partner.
We entered into an omnibus agreement dated November 1, 2002, with Martin Resource Management Corporation (the "Omnibus Agreement") that governs, among other things, potential competition and indemnification obligations among the parties to the agreement, related party transactions, the provision to us of general administration and support services by Martin Resource Management Corporation and our use of certain of Martin Resource Management Corporation’s trade names and trademarks. Under the terms of the Omnibus Agreement, the employees of Martin Resource Management Corporation are responsible for conducting our business and operating our assets.
Martin Resource Management Corporation has operated our business since 2002. Martin Resource Management Corporation began operating our NGL business in the 1950s and our sulfur business in the 1960s. It began our land transportation business in the early 1980s and our marine transportation business in the late 1980s. It entered into our fertilizer and terminalling and storage businesses in the early 1990s.
Primary Business Segments
Our primary business segments can be generally described as follows:
Terminalling and Storage. We own or operate 19 marine shore-based terminal facilities and 12 specialty terminal facilities located primarily in the U.S. Gulf Coast region with aggregate storage capacity of 2.8 million barrels. We provide storage, refining, blending, packaging, and handling services for producers and suppliers of petroleum products and by-products, including the refining of naphthenic crude oil and the blending and packaging of various grades and quantities of industrial, commercial, and automotive lubricants and greases. Our facilities and resources provide us with the ability to handle various products that require specialized treatment, such as molten sulfur and asphalt. We also provide land rental to oil and gas companies along with storage and handling services for lubricants and fuels through our shore-based terminals. We provide these terminalling and storage services on a fixed-fee basis and a significant portion of the contracts in this segment provide for minimum fee arrangements that are not based on the volumes handled. We believe that our terminalling, processing, storage and packaging services for petroleum products and by-products would be difficult for our customers or competitors to replicate. We have a revenue weighted average relationship length of 10.0 years among our top five customers in the segment.
Transportation. We operate a fleet of both land transportation and marine transportation assets that transport petroleum products and by-products, petrochemicals, and chemicals. Our land transportation assets include approximately 540 tank trucks and 1,275 trailers and are based across 23 terminals strategically located throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast and southeastern United States. Our marine transportation assets include 33 inland marine tank barges, 19 inland push boats and one articulated offshore tug and barge unit that operate coastwise along the Gulf of Mexico and east coast and on the U.S. inland waterway system, primarily between domestic ports along the Gulf of Mexico, the Intracoastal Waterway, the Mississippi River system and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway system. Our "refinery and petrochemical services" model is focused on transportation of heavy tank bottoms (by-products) and other petroleum products, hauling liquefied petroleum gas ("LPG"), molten sulfur, sulfuric acid, paper mill liquids, chemicals, dry bulk and numerous other bulk liquid commodities from refineries and petrochemical production locations to end markets. We provide these
transportation services on a fee basis, and many of our customers have long standing contractual relationships with us. We believe our modernized asset base is attractive both to our existing customers as well as potential new customers. In addition, our fleet contains several vessels that reflect our focus on specialty products. We have a revenue weighted average relationship length of 9.4 years among our top five customers in this segment.
Sulfur Services. We own 23 railcars and lease 41 railcars equipped to transport molten sulfur and we lease 132 railcars to transport our fertilizer products. We have developed an integrated system of transportation assets and facilities relating to sulfur services. We process and distribute sulfur produced by oil refineries primarily located in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. We seek to buy and sell molten sulfur on contracts that are tied to sulfur indices to minimize margin fluctuations. We process molten sulfur into prilled or pelletized sulfur at our facilities in Beaumont, Texas and Port of Stockton, California on contracts that traditionally provide guaranteed minimum fees. The sulfur we process and handle is primarily used in the production of fertilizers and industrial chemicals. We own and operate five sulfur-based fertilizer production plants and one emulsified sulfur blending plant located in Texas and Illinois and manufacture primarily sulfur-based fertilizer products for wholesale distributors and industrial users. Demand for our sulfur products exists across the globe, and our asset base provides additional opportunities to handle increases in U.S. supply and access to foreign demand. We have a revenue weighted average relationship length of 19.0 years among our top five customers in this segment.
Natural Gas Liquids. We distribute NGLs that we primarily purchase from refineries and natural gas processors. We store and transport NGLs for wholesale deliveries to refineries, industrial NGL users in Texas and the southeastern U.S. and propane retailers. We own approximately 2.1 million barrels of underground storage capacity for NGLs. This segment is primarily driven by the purchase of butane in the summer months, when demand is typically low, and sale in the winter months, when demand is typically higher. We have a revenue weighted average relationship length of 21.6 years among our top five customers in this segment.
Significant Developments in 2019
Beginning in 2018, we committed to strengthening our balance sheet through strategic initiatives aimed at reducing leverage by divesting non-core assets and businesses, creating the ability to focus on a streamlined corporate strategy and position the Partnership for growth.
The first set of initiatives was executed in 2018 with the divestiture of our 20% interest in West Texas LPG Pipeline Limited Partnership for $195.0 million and the sale of a non-strategic terminal asset located in Nevada for $8.0 million. On January 1, 2019, we completed the next initiative with the acquisition of Martin Transport, Inc. from Martin Resource Management Corporation for $135.0 million, positioning us for cash flow growth. On July 1, 2019, we completed the sale of our natural gas storage assets for $215.0 million, which was an important piece of the Partnership’s strategy to strengthen the balance sheet and re-focus our operational expertise on the refinery services industry. On August 12, 2019 we completed the sale of our East Texas Pipeline for $17.5 million.
As a result of dispositions, offset by acquisitions, we were able to pay down $300.5 million of outstanding debt while incurring only a slight reduction to projected EBITDA. Consistent with our strategy of reducing leverage and improving liquidity, on January 28, 2020, we announced a $0.75 per unit reduction of our cash distribution on an annual basis, allowing us to retain $29.2 million to continue to strengthen our balance sheet.
Divestiture of East Texas Pipeline. On August 12, 2019, we completed the sale of our East Texas Pipeline for $17.5 million. The net proceeds were used to reduce outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility.
Credit Facility Amendment and Extension. On July 18, 2019, the Partnership amended its revolving credit facility to, among other things, extend the maturity date from March 2020 to August 2023 (provided we have refinanced our 7.25% senior unsecured notes due 2021 (the "2021 Notes") on or before August 19, 2020) and reduce commitments from $500.0 million to $400.0 million.
Divestiture of Natural Gas Storage Assets. On June 28, 2019, we completed the sale of our membership interests in Arcadia Gas Storage, LLC, Cadeville Gas Storage LLC, Monroe Gas Storage Company, LLC and Perryville Gas Storage LLC (the "Natural Gas Storage Assets") to Hartree Cardinal Gas, LLC ("Hartree"), a subsidiary of Hartree Bulk Storage, LLC. The Natural Gas Storage Assets consist of approximately 50 billion cubic feet of working capacity located in northern Louisiana and Mississippi. In consideration of the sale of the Natural Gas Storage Assets, we received cash proceeds of $210.1 million after transaction fees and expenses. The proceeds were used to reduce outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility.
Neches Shiploader Incident. On Friday May 10, 2019, an incident occurred at our Neches Terminal in Beaumont, Texas, causing structural damage to the terminal's mobile ship-loader and crane as a result of severe weather passing through the area. While the damage was repaired, the terminal was unable to load prilled sulfur onto oceangoing vessels. The shiploader was placed back in service on January 28, 2020. As a result of the downtime associated with the repairs, the net impact on EBITDA during 2019 was $2.3 million after receipt of $1.3 million in business interruption insurance proceeds.
Martin Transport Inc. Stock Purchase Agreement. On October 22, 2018, we entered into a stock purchase agreement (the "Stock Purchase Agreement") with Martin Resource Management Corporation to acquire all of the issued and outstanding equity of Martin Transport, Inc. ("MTI"), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Martin Resource Management Corporation which operates a fleet of tank trucks providing transportation of petroleum products, liquid petroleum gas, chemicals, sulfur and other products, as well as owns 23 terminals located throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast and southeastern United States for total consideration of $135.0 million with a $10.0 million earn-out based on certain performance thresholds. Additionally, a post-closing working capital adjustment was finalized on January 28, 2019 which included additional consideration paid to Martin Resource Management Corporation of $2.2 million. The Stock Purchase Agreement contained customary representations and warranties. Martin Resource Management Corporation has owned and operated MTI or its predecessor for over 40 years and MTI is integral to our routine movements of sulfur and NGLs. Based on operational estimates and current transportation market conditions, this drop-down from our general partner will provide strategic long-term growth for the Partnership. This transaction closed January 2, 2019 and was effective as of January 1, 2019. As of January 1, 2019, Martin Resource Management Corporation discontinued providing land transportation services.
Quarterly Distribution. On January 28, 2020, we declared a quarterly cash distribution of $0.0625 per common unit for the fourth quarter of 2019, or $0.25 per common unit on an annualized basis, which was paid on February 14, 2020 to unitholders of record as of February 7, 2020.
Our Growth Strategy
The key components of our growth strategy are:
Pursue Organic Growth Projects. We continually evaluate organic expansion opportunities in existing areas of operation that will allow us to leverage our existing market position and increase the revenues from our existing assets through improved utilization and efficiency. For example, our specialty products division is opening an additional grease processing and packaging location to serve new and existing customers in the western United States.
Spur Internal Organic Growth by Attracting New Customers and Expanding Services Provided to Existing Customers. Opportunities exist to expand our customer base and provide additional services and products to existing customers. We generally begin a relationship with a customer by transporting, storing or marketing a limited range of products and services. Expanding our customer base and our service and product offerings to existing customers is an efficient and cost effective method of achieving organic growth in revenues and cash flow. We plan to focus on growth in our business segments with a stronger economic outlook.
Establish Strategic Commercial Alliances. Many of our larger customers, which include major integrated energy companies, have established strategic alliances with midstream service providers such as us to address logistical and transportation challenges or to achieve operational synergies. We intend to utilize our industry knowledge, network of customers and suppliers, and strategic asset base to expand commercial alliances to drive revenue and cash flow growth in the future. We have access to approximately 96.5 additional acres of land at the Beaumont Terminal, which is an attractive deepwater alternative to the Houston Ship Channel where we believe opportunities may exist to jointly develop a potential project using our terminalling expertise. We also own approximately 18.4 acres of land with a dock located at the mouth of the Port of Corpus Christi Ship Channel, which we believe is a favorable location for a crude oil export project.
Maintain a Disciplined Financial Policy. We intend to continue pursuing a disciplined financial policy that includes continuing to evaluate the sale of non-core assets and conservative capital spending to pay down debt, and prudent control of distributions.
We believe we are well positioned to execute our business strategy because of the following competitive strengths:
Fee-Based Contracts. We generate a significant amount of our cash flow from fee-based contracts with our customers, many of which are major and independent oil and gas companies with whom we have longstanding customer relationships. A majority of our fee-based contracts consist of reservation charges or minimum fee arrangements, which reduce the volatility of our cash flows due to volume fluctuations.
Vertically Integrated Services Provided for U.S. Gulf Coast-Centric Asset and Operational Footprint. We own and operate a diversified asset base that enables us to offer our customers an integrated distribution network consisting of terminalling, storage, packaging and other midstream logistical services for petroleum products and by-products in one of the world’s most active refining and petrochemical regions.
Strategically Located Assets. A significant portion of our cash flow comes from providing various services to the oil refining industry. Accordingly, a significant portion of our assets are located in proximity to refining operations along the U.S. Gulf Coast. For example, our land transportation assets are based out of terminals strategically located to serve refineries and chemical companies across the U.S. Gulf Coast. Many of our sulfur services assets are strategically located to source sulfur from the largest refinery sources in the United States. Finally, our terminalling and storage assets are located in strategic areas across the U.S. Gulf Coast to support our refinery based customers.
Specialized Transportation Equipment and Storage Facilities. We have the assets and expertise to handle and transport an array of petroleum products and by-products with unique requirements for transportation and storage. For example, we own facilities and resources to transport a variety of specialty products, including ammonia, molten sulfur and asphalt. Some of these specialty products require treatment across a wide range of temperatures ranging between approximately -30 to +400 degrees Fahrenheit to remain in liquid form, which our facilities are designed to accommodate. These capabilities help us enhance relationships with our customers by offering them services to handle their unique product requirements.
Strong Industry Reputation and Established Relationships with Suppliers and Customers. We have established a reputation in our industry as a reliable and cost-effective supplier of services to our customers and have a track record of safe, efficient operation of our facilities. Our management has also established long-term relationships with many of our suppliers and customers with a revenue-weighted average customer tenure of approximately 16 years. We benefit from our management’s reputation and track record and from these long-term relationships. We provide specialized value added services to our customers and believe we have become an integral part of their value chain.
Experienced Management Team and Operational Expertise. Members of our executive management team and the heads of our principal business lines have a significant amount of experience in the industries in which we operate. Our management team's experience and familiarity with our industry and businesses are important assets that assist us in implementing our business strategies. In addition, members of our senior management hold significant limited and general partner interests in us, which we believe aligns incentives with our investors.
Strong Parent Support. Martin Resource Management Corporation, a supportive general partner, which is privately owned, assumes a significant amount of the working capital demands and margin risk, providing stable fee-based cash flows to our limited partners.
Terminalling and Storage Segment
Industry Overview. The U.S. petroleum distribution system moves petroleum products and by-products from oil refineries and natural gas processing facilities to end users. This distribution system is comprised of a network of terminals, storage facilities, pipelines, tankers, barges, railcars and trucks. Terminals play a key role in moving these products throughout the distribution system by providing storage, blending and other ancillary services.
Although many large energy and chemical companies own terminalling and storage facilities, these companies also use third-party terminalling and storage services. Major energy and chemical companies typically have a strong demand for terminals owned by independent operators when such terminals are strategically located at or near key transportation links, such as deep-water ports. Major energy and chemical companies also need independent terminal storage when their owned storage facilities are inadequate, either because of lack of capacity, the nature of the stored material or specialized handling requirements.
The U.S. Gulf Coast region is a major hub for petroleum refining. Approximately 50% of U.S. refining capacity exists in this region. Growth in the refining and natural gas processing industries has increased the volume of petroleum products and by-products that are transported within the U.S. Gulf Coast region, which consequently has increased the need for terminalling and storage services.
The marine and offshore oil and gas exploration and production industries use terminal facilities in the U.S. Gulf Coast region as shore bases that provide them logistical support services as well as provide a broad range of products, including fuel oil, lubricants, chemicals and supplies. The demand for these types of terminals, services and products is driven primarily by offshore exploration, development and production in the Gulf of Mexico. Offshore activity is greatly influenced by current and projected prices of oil and natural gas.
Specialty Petroleum Terminals. We own or operate 12 terminalling facilities providing storage, handling and transportation of various petroleum products and by-products. The locations and capabilities of our terminals are structured to complement our other businesses and reflect our strategy to provide a broad range of integrated services in the storage, handling and transportation of products. We developed our terminalling and storage assets by acquisition and upgrades of existing facilities as well as developing our own properties strategically located near rail, waterways and pipelines. We anticipate further expansion of our terminalling facilities through both acquisition and organic growth.
At the Neches and Stanolind terminals, our customers are primarily energy or petrochemical companies. We charge either a fixed monthly fee or a throughput fee for the use of services we perform at our facilities based on the capacity of the applicable tank. We conduct a substantial portion of our terminalling and storage operations under long-term contracts, which enhances the stability and predictability of our operations and cash flow. We attempt to balance our short-term and long-term terminalling contracts in order to allow us to maintain a consistent level of cash flow while maintaining flexibility to earn higher storage revenues when demand for storage space increases. In addition, a significant portion of the contracts for our specialty terminals provide for minimum fee arrangements that are not based on the volume handled.
In Smackover, Arkansas, we own a refinery and terminal where we process crude oil into finished products that include naphthenic lubricants, distillates, asphalt and other intermediates. This process is dedicated to an affiliate of Martin Resource Management Corporation through a long-term tolling agreement based on throughput rates and a monthly reservation fee.
In Smackover, Arkansas, we own and operate a terminal used for lubricant blending, processing, packaging, marketing and distribution. This terminal is used as our central hub for branded and private label packaged lubricants where we receive, package and ship heavy-duty, passenger car, and industrial lubricants to a network of retailers and distributors.
In Kansas City, Missouri, we lease and operate a plant that specializes in the processing and packaging of automotive, commercial and industrial greases.
In Houston, Texas, we own and operate a plant that specializes in the processing and packaging of post tension greases.
We own asphalt terminals in each of Hondo, South Houston, and Port Neches, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska, each of which is dedicated to an affiliate of Martin Resource Management Corporation through a terminalling service agreement based on throughput rates.
In Beaumont, Texas we own a terminal where we receive natural gasoline via pipeline and then ship the product to our customers via other pipelines to which the facility is connected, referred to as the "Spindletop Terminal." Our fees for the use of this facility are based on the volume of barrels shipped from the terminal.
The following is a summary description of our shore-based specialty terminals:
Aggregate Capacity (in barrels)
Asphalt and fuel oil
Marine terminal, loading/unloading for vessels, barges, railcars and trucks
Asphalt, crude oil, sulfur, sulfuric acid and fuel oil
Marine terminal, marine dock for loading/unloading of vessels, barges, railcars and trucks
Molten sulfur, formed sulfur, ammonia, asphalt, fuel oil, crude oil and sulfur-based fertilizer
Marine terminal, loading/unloading for vessels, barges, railcars and trucks
This terminal is located on land owned by the Tampa Port Authority that was leased to us under a 10-year lease that expires in December 2021. This lease may be extended at the option of the tenant for one option period of five years.
The Neches terminal is a deep water marine terminal located near Beaumont, Texas, on approximately 50 acres of land owned by us, and an additional 96 acres leased to us under terms of a 20-year lease commencing May 1, 2014 with three five-year options.
The following is a summary description of our non shore-based specialty terminals:
7,700 barrels per day; 275,000 barrels of crude bulk storage; 647,000 barrels of lubricant storage
Naphthenic lubricants, distillates, asphalt, crude oil
Crude refining facility
3.9 million gallons bulk storage
Agricultural, automotive, and industrial lubricants and grease
Lubricants packaging facility
Martin Lubricants (1)
Kansas City, Missouri
0.2 million gallons of bulk storage
Automotive, commercial and industrial greases
Grease manufacturing and packaging facility
0.2 million gallons of bulk storage
Post tension greases
Grease manufacturing and packaging facility
Asphalt processing and storage
South Houston Asphalt
Asphalt processing and storage
Port Neches Asphalt
Port Neches, Texas
Asphalt processing and storage
Asphalt processing and storage
Pipeline receipts and shipments
This terminal contains a warehouse owned by third parties and leased under a lease that expires in December 2020 and can be extended by us for two successive five-year periods.
Marine Shore-Based Terminals. We own or operate 19 marine shore-based terminals along the U.S. Gulf Coast from Theodore, Alabama to Corpus Christi, Texas. Our terminalling assets are located at strategic distribution points for the products we handle and are in close proximity to our customers. We are one of the largest operators of marine shore-based terminals in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. These terminals are used to distribute and market fuel and lubricants. Additionally, full service terminals also provide shore bases for companies that are operating in the offshore exploration and production industry. Customers are primarily oil and gas exploration and production companies and oilfield service companies, such as
drilling fluid companies, marine transportation companies and offshore construction companies. Shore bases typically provide logistical support, including the storing and handling of tubular goods, loading and unloading bulk materials, providing facilities from which major and independent oil companies can communicate with and control offshore operations and leasing dockside facilities to companies which provide complementary products and services such as drilling fluids and cementing services. We generate revenues from our terminals that have shore bases by fees that we charge our customers under land rental contracts for the use of our terminal facility for these shore bases. These contracts generally provide us a fixed land rental fee and additional rental fees that are determined based on a percentage of the sales value of the products and services delivered from the shore base. In addition, Martin Resource Management Corporation, through terminalling service agreements, pays us for terminalling and storage of fuels and lubricants at these terminal facilities and includes a provision for minimum volume throughput requirements.
Our marine shore-based terminals are divided into two classes of terminals: (i) full service terminals and (ii) fuel and lubricant terminals.
Full Service Terminals. We own or operate six full service terminals. These facilities provide logistical support services and storage and handling services for fuel and lubricants. The significant difference between our full service terminals and our fuel and lubricant terminals is that our full service terminals generate additional revenues by providing shore bases to support our customer’s operating activities related to the offshore exploration and production industry. One typical use for our shore bases is for drilling fluids manufacturers to manufacture and sell drilling fluids to the offshore drilling industry. Offshore drilling companies may also set up service facilities at these terminals to support their offshore operations. Customers of our full service terminals are primarily oil and gas exploration and production companies, oilfield service companies such as drilling fluids companies, marine transportation companies and offshore construction companies.
The following is a summary description of our full service terminals:
Aggregate Capacity (barrels)
End of Lease (Including Options)
Harbor Island (1)
Port Aransas, Texas
Intracoastal City 2 (2)
Intracoastal City, Louisiana
A portion of this terminal is owned.
This terminal is currently in caretaker status.
Fuel and Lubricant Terminals. We own or operate 13 lubricant and fuel terminals located in the U.S. Gulf Coast region that provide storage and handling services for lubricants and fuel oil.
The following is a summary description of our fuel and lubricant terminals at:
Aggregate Capacity (barrels)
End of Lease (Including Options)
Dock 193 (3)
Galveston T (2)
Intracoastal City (2)
Intracoastal City, Louisiana
Jennings Bulk Plant
Lake Charles T
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Port Arthur, Texas
Port O'Connor (1)
Port O'Connor, Texas
Sabine Pass (2)(3)
Sabine Pass, Texas
This terminal is currently in caretaker status and the lease will not be renewed at the end of the current option.
These terminals are currently in caretaker status.
A portion of this terminal is owned.
Competition. We compete with independent terminal operators and major energy and chemical companies that own their own terminalling and storage facilities. Many customers prefer to contract with independent terminal operators rather than terminal operators owned by integrated energy and chemical companies that may have refining or marketing interests that compete with the customers.
Independent terminal owners generally compete on the basis of the location and versatility of terminals, service and price. A favorably located terminal has access to various cost effective transportation modes, both to and from the terminal, such as waterways, railroads, roadways and pipelines. Terminal versatility depends upon the operator’s ability to handle diverse products, some of which have complex or specialized handling and storage requirements. The service function of a terminal includes, among other things, the safe storage of product at specified temperature, moisture and other conditions and receiving and delivering product to and from the terminal. All of these services must be in compliance with applicable environmental and other regulations.
We successfully compete for terminal customers because of the strategic location of our terminals along the U.S. Gulf Coast, our integrated transportation services, our reputation, the prices we charge for our services and the quality and versatility of our services. Additionally, while some companies have significantly more terminalling and storage capacity than us, not all terminalling and storage facilities located in the markets we serve are equipped to properly handle specialty products such as asphalt, sulfur and anhydrous ammonia.
The principal competitive factors affecting our terminals, which provide fuel and lubricants distribution and marketing, as well as shore bases at certain terminals, are the locations of the facilities, availability of competing logistical support services and the experience of personnel and dependability of service. The distribution and marketing of our lubricant products is brand sensitive and we encounter brand loyalty competition. Shore base rental contracts are generally long-term contracts and provide more protection from competition. Our primary competitors for both lubricants and shore bases include several independent operators as well as major companies that maintain their own similarly equipped marine terminals, shore bases and fuel and lubricant supply sources.
Industry Overview. The U.S. tank trucking industry is segmented into fleet type, capacity, and product category. The energy and chemical sector relies heavily on the transportation industry to assist in moving mass quantities of petroleum products and by-products, petrochemicals, and chemicals.
Our Truck and Trailer Fleet. We operate a fleet of land transportation assets comprising approximately 540 tank trucks and 1,275 trailers that transport petroleum products and by-products, petrochemicals, and chemicals. Our land transportation assets operate out of 23 strategically located terminals throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast and Southeastern United States.
The following is a listing of our terminals utilized in our land transportation business:
Kenova, West Virginia
Our largest land transportation customers include petroleum, petrochemical, and chemical companies and Martin Resource Management Corporation. We conduct our land transportation services on a fee basis primarily under spot contracts.
We are a party to a master transportation services agreement under which we provide land transportation services to Martin Resource Management Corporation on a demand basis at applicable market rates. The agreement will continue unless either party terminates the agreement by giving at least 30 days' written notice to the other party. These rates are subject to any adjustments which are mutually agreed upon or in accordance with a price index. Additionally, shipping charges are also subject to fuel surcharges determined on a weekly basis in accordance with the U.S. Department of Energy’s national diesel price list.
Competition. The U.S. tank trucking market is highly competitive and fragmented, due to the presence of many small and medium-sized market participants. Driver availability plays a major role in each market participant's ability to generate revenue. We compete primarily with other tank truck transportation companies. Competition in our service regions is based primarily on freight rates, service, efficiency, and available capacity.
Industry Overview. The U.S. inland waterway system is composed of a network of interconnected rivers and canals that serve as water highways and is used to transport vast quantities of products annually. This waterway system extends approximately 26,000 miles, of which 12,000 miles are generally considered significant for domestic commerce.
The U.S. Gulf Coast region is a major hub for petroleum refining. The petroleum refining process generates products and by-products that require transportation in large quantities from the refinery or processor. Convenient access to and use of this waterway system by the petroleum and petrochemical industry is a major reason for the current location of U.S. refineries and petrochemical facilities. The marine transportation industry uses push boats and tugboats as power sources and tank barges for freight capacity. The combination of the power source and tank barge freight capacity is called a tow.
Marine Fleet. We utilize a fleet of inland and offshore tows that provide marine transportation of petroleum products and by-products produced in oil refining. Our marine transportation business operates coastwise along the Gulf of Mexico and east coast of the United States, as well as on the U.S. inland waterway system, primarily between domestic ports along the Gulf of Mexico, Intracoastal Waterway, the Mississippi River system and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway system. Our inland tows generally consist of one push boat and one to three tank barges, depending upon the horsepower of the push boat, the river or canal capacity and conditions, and customer requirements. Our offshore tow consists of one tugboat, with much greater horsepower than an inland push boat, and one large tank barge. We transport asphalt, fuel oil, gasoline, sulfur and other bulk liquids.
The following is a summary description of the marine vessels we use in our marine transportation business (excluding equipment classified as "Assets Held for Sale"):
Class of Equipment
Number in Class
Description of Products Carried
Inland tank barges
Under 20,000 barrels
Asphalt, crude oil, fuel oil, gasoline and sulfur
Inland tank barges
20,000 - 31,000 barrels
Asphalt, crude oil, fuel oil and gasoline
Inland push boats
800 - 2,650 horsepower
Offshore tank barge
Our largest marine transportation customers include major and independent oil and gas refining companies, petroleum marketing companies and Martin Resource Management Corporation. We conduct our marine transportation services on a fee basis primarily under spot contracts.
We are a party to a marine transportation agreement under which we provide marine transportation services to Martin Resource Management Corporation on a spot contract basis at applicable market rates. Effective each January 1, this agreement automatically renews for consecutive one-year periods unless either party terminates the agreement by giving written notice to the other party at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the then-applicable term.
Competition. We compete primarily with other marine transportation companies. Competition in this industry has historically been based primarily on price. However, customers are placing an increased emphasis on the age of equipment, safety, environmental compliance, quality of service and the availability of a single source of supply of services.
In addition to competitors that provide marine transportation services, we also compete with providers of other modes of transportation, such as rail, trucks and, to a lesser extent, pipelines. For example, a typical two-barge tow carries a volume of product equal to approximately 80 railcars or 250 tanker trucks. Pipelines generally provide a less expensive form of transportation than marine transportation. However, pipelines are not able to transport some of the products we transport and are generally a less flexible form of transportation because they are limited to the fixed point-to-point distribution of commodities in high volumes over extended periods of time.
Sulfur Services Segment
Industry Overview. Sulfur is a natural element and is required to produce a variety of industrial products. In the U.S., approximately 8.5 million tons of sulfur are consumed annually with the Tampa, Florida area being the largest single market. Currently, all sulfur produced in the U.S. is "recovered sulfur," or sulfur that is a by-product from oil refineries and natural gas processing plants. Sulfur production in the U.S. is principally located along the U.S. Gulf Coast, along major inland waterways and in some areas of the western United States.
Sulfur has long been recognized as essential for plant and animal growth and various other industrial purposes. The primary application of sulfur in fertilizers occurs in the form of sulfuric acid. Burning sulfur creates sulfur dioxide, which is subsequently oxidized and dissolved in water to create sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid is then combined with ammonia and phosphate rock to manufacture phosphate as well as ammonium sulfate and ammonium thiosulfate fertilizers.
Sulfur-based fertilizers are manufactured chemicals containing nutrients known to improve the fertility of soils. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur are the four most important nutrients for crop growth. These nutrients are found naturally in soils. However, soils used for agriculture become depleted of nutrients and require fertilizers rich in nutrients to restore fertility.
Industrial sulfur products (including sulfuric acid) are used in a wide variety of industries. For example, these products are used in power plants, paper mills, auto and tire manufacturing plants, food processing plants, road construction, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Our Operations and Products. We maintain an integrated system of transportation assets and facilities relating to our sulfur services. We gather molten sulfur from refiners, primarily located on the U.S. Gulf Coast. We transport sulfur by inland and offshore barges, railcars and trucks. In the U.S., recovered sulfur is mainly kept in liquid form from production to usage at
a temperature of approximately 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the temperature requirement, the sulfur industry uses specialized equipment to store and transport molten sulfur. We have the necessary assets and expertise to handle the unique requirements for transportation and storage of molten sulfur.
Terms for our standard purchase and sales contracts typically range from one to two years in length with prices that are usually tied to a published market indicator and fluctuate according to the price movement of the indicator. We also provide barge transportation and tank storage services to large producers and consumers of sulfur under contracts with remaining terms from one to five years in duration.
We operate sulfur forming assets in the Port of Stockton, California and Beaumont, Texas, which are used to convert molten sulfur into solid form (prills/granules). The Stockton facility is equipped with one wet prill unit capable of processing 1,000 metric tons of molten sulfur per day. The Beaumont facility is equipped with two wet prill units and one granulation unit capable of processing a combined 5,500 metric tons of molten sulfur per day. Formed sulfur at both facilities is stored in bulk until sold into local or international agricultural markets. Our forming services contracts are fee based and typically include minimum fee guarantees.
Our sulfuric acid production facility at our Plainview, Texas location processes molten sulfur to produce a dedicated supply of raw material sulfuric acid to our ammonium sulfate production plant. The ammonium sulfate plant produces approximately 400 tons per day of quality ammonium sulfate and is marketed to our customers throughout the U.S. The sulfuric acid produced and not consumed by the captive ammonium sulfate production is sold to third parties.
Fertilizer and related sulfur products are a natural extension of our molten sulfur business because of our access to sulfur and our distribution capabilities.
In the U.S., fertilizer is generally sold to farmers through local dealers. These dealers are typically owned and supplied by much larger wholesale distributors. We sell to these wholesale distributors. Our industrial sulfur products are marketed primarily in the southern U.S., where many paper manufacturers and power plants are located. Our products are sold in accordance with price lists that vary from state to state. These price lists are updated periodically to reflect changes in seasonal or competitive prices. We transport our fertilizer and industrial sulfur products to our customers using third-party common carriers. We utilize barge and rail shipments for large volume and long distance shipments where available.
We manufacture and market the following sulfur-based fertilizer and related sulfur products:
Plant nutrient sulfur products. We produce plant nutrient and agricultural ground sulfur products at our facilities in Odessa, Texas, Seneca, Illinois and Cactus, Texas. Our plant nutrient sulfur product is a 90% degradable sulfur product marketed under the Disper-Sul® trade name and sold throughout the U.S. to direct application agricultural markets.
Ammonium sulfate products. We produce various grades of ammonium sulfate including granular, coarse, standard, and 40% ammonium sulfate solution. These products primarily serve direct application agricultural markets. We package these custom grade products under both proprietary and private labels and sell them to major retail distributors and other retail customers.
Industrial sulfur products. We produce industrial sulfur products such as elemental pastille sulfur, industrial ground sulfur products, and emulsified sulfur. We produce elemental pastille sulfur at our Odessa, Texas and Seneca, Illinois facilities. Elemental pastille sulfur is used to increase the efficiency of the coal-fired precipitators in the power industry. These industrial ground sulfur products are also used in a variety of dusting and wettable sulfur applications such as rubber manufacturing, fungicides, sugar and animal feeds. We produce emulsified sulfur at our Nash, Texas facility. Emulsified sulfur is primarily used to control the sulfur content in the pulp and paper manufacturing processes.
Liquid sulfur products. We produce ammonium thiosulfate at our Neches terminal facility in Beaumont, Texas. This agricultural sulfur product is a clear liquid containing 12% nitrogen and 26% sulfur. This product serves as a liquid plant nutrient used directly through spray rigs or irrigation systems. It is also blended with other nitrogen phosphorus potassium liquids or suspensions as well. Our market is predominantly the Mid-South U.S. and Coastal Bend area of Texas.
Our Sulfur Services Facilities. We own 23 railcars and lease 41 railcars equipped to transport molten sulfur. We own the following marine assets and use them to transport molten sulfur between U.S. Gulf Coast storage terminals (including our terminal in Beaumont, Texas) under third-party marine transportation agreements:
Class of Equipment
Offshore tank barge
10,500 long tons
M/V Martin Explorer
M/V Martin Express
Inland push boat
Inland tank barge
2,500 long tons
Inland tank barge
2,500 long tons
We operate the following sulfur forming facilities as part of our sulfur services business:
Daily Production Capacity
5,500 metric tons per day
Molten, prilled and granulated sulfur
1,000 metric tons per day
Molten and prilled sulfur
We lease 132 railcars to transport our fertilizer products. We own the following manufacturing plants as part of our sulfur services business:
Liquid sulfur fertilizer production
Dry sulfur fertilizer production
Dry sulfur fertilizer production
Dry sulfur fertilizer production
Industrial sulfur plant
Emulsified sulfur production
Sulfuric acid plant
Sulfuric acid production
Competition. The Martin Explorer/Margaret Sue articulated barge unit is one of four vessels currently used to transport molten sulfur between U.S. ports on the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa, Florida. Phosphate fertilizer manufacturers consume a majority of the sulfur produced in the U.S., which they purchase directly from both producers and resellers. As a reseller, we compete against producers and other resellers capable of accessing the required transportation and storage assets. Our sulfur-based fertilizer products compete with several large fertilizer and sulfur product manufacturers. However, the close proximity of our manufacturing plants to our customer base is a competitive advantage for us in the markets we serve and allows us to minimize freight costs and respond quickly to customer requests. Our sulfuric acid products compete with regional producers and importers in the South and Southwest portion of the U.S. from Louisiana to California.
Seasonality. Sales of our agricultural fertilizer products are partly seasonal as a result of increased demand during the growing season.
Natural Gas Liquids Segment
Industry Overview. NGLs are produced through natural gas processing and as a by-product of crude oil refining. NGLs include ethane, propane, normal butane, iso butane and natural gasoline.
Ethane is almost entirely used as a petrochemical feedstock in the production of ethylene and propylene. Propane is used as a petrochemical feedstock in the production of ethylene and propylene, as a fuel for heating, for industrial applications, as motor fuel and as a refrigerant. Normal butane is used as a petrochemical feedstock, as a blend stock for motor gasoline and as a component in aerosol propellants. Normal butane can also be made into iso butane through isomerization. Iso butane is used in the production of motor gasoline, alkylation and as a component in aerosol propellants. Natural gasoline is used as a component of motor gasoline, as a petrochemical feedstock and as a diluent.
Facilities. We purchase NGLs primarily from major domestic oil refiners and natural gas processors. We transport NGLs using MTI’s land transportation fleet or by contracting with common carriers, owner-operators and railroad tank cars. We typically enter into annual contracts with independent retail propane distributors to deliver their estimated annual volume requirements based on prevailing market prices. Dependable delivery is very important to these customers and in some cases may be more important than price. We ensure adequate supply of NGLs through:
term purchase contracts;
efficient use of railroad tank cars;
the transportation fleet of vehicles owned by MTI; and
product management expertise to obtain supplies when needed.
The following is a summary description of our owned NGL facilities:
24 railcars per day
NGL railcar loading and unloading capabilities
In addition to the owned NGL facilities above, we lease underground storage capacity at four locations under short-term lease agreements.
Our NGL customers consist of refiners, industrial processors and retail propane distributors. The majority of our NGL volumes are sold to refiners and industrial processors.
Seasonality. The level of NGL supply and demand is subject to changes in domestic production, weather, inventory levels and other factors. While production is not seasonal, residential, refinery, and wholesale demand is highly seasonal. This imbalance causes increases in inventories during summer months when consumption is low and decreases in inventories during winter months when consumption is high. In September, demand for normal butane typically increases with refineries entering the winter gasoline-blending season, resulting in upward pressure on prices. Abnormally cold weather can put extra upward pressure on propane prices during the winter.
Competition. We compete with large integrated NGL producers and marketers, as well as small local independent marketers, primarily with respect to location, rates, terms and flexibility of service and supply.
Our Relationship with Martin Resource Management Corporation
Martin Resource Management Corporation is engaged in the following principal business activities:
distributing fuel oil, asphalt, marine fuel and other liquids;
providing marine bunkering and other shore-based marine services in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida;
operating a crude oil gathering business in Stephens, Arkansas;
providing crude oil gathering, refining, and marketing services of base oils, asphalt, and distillate products in Smackover, Arkansas;
providing crude oil marketing and transportation from the well head to the end market;
operating an environmental consulting company;
supplying employees and services for the operation of our business; and
operating, solely for our account, the asphalt facilities in each of Hondo, South Houston and Port Neches, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska.
We are and will continue to be closely affiliated with Martin Resource Management Corporation as a result of the following relationships.
Martin Resource Management Corporation owns approximately 15.7% of the outstanding limited partner units. In addition, Martin Resource Management Corporation controls MMGP, our general partner, by virtue of its 51% voting interest in Holdings, the sole member of MMGP. MMGP owns a 2% general partner interest in us and all of our incentive distribution rights.
Martin Resource Management Corporation directs our business operations through its ownership interests in and control of our general partner. We benefit from our relationship with Martin Resource Management Corporation through access to a significant pool of management expertise and established relationships throughout the energy industry. We do not have employees. Martin Resource Management Corporation employees are responsible for conducting our business and operating our assets on our behalf.
Related Party Agreements
The Omnibus Agreement with Martin Resource Management Corporation requires us to reimburse Martin Resource Management Corporation for all direct expenses it incurs or payments it makes on our behalf or in connection with the operation of our business. We reimbursed Martin Resource Management Corporation for $138.7 million, $136.1 million and $135.9 million of direct costs and expenses for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. There is no monetary limitation on the amount we are required to reimburse Martin Resource Management Corporation for direct expenses.
In addition to the direct expenses, under the Omnibus Agreement, we are required to reimburse Martin Resource Management Corporation for indirect general and administrative and corporate overhead expenses. For the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, and 2017, the conflicts committee of our general partner ("Conflicts Committee") approved reimbursement amounts of $16.7 million, $16.4 million and $16.4 million, respectively, reflecting our allocable share of such expenses. The Conflicts Committee will review and approve future adjustments in the reimbursement amount for indirect expenses, if any, annually. These indirect expenses covered the centralized corporate functions Martin Resource Management Corporation provides for us, such as accounting, treasury, clerical, engineering, legal, billing, information technology, administration of insurance, environmental and safety compliance, general office expenses and employee benefit plans and other general corporate overhead functions we share with Martin Resource Management Corporation’s retained businesses. The Omnibus Agreement also contains significant non-compete provisions and indemnity obligations. Martin Resource Management Corporation also licenses certain of its trademarks and trade names to us under the Omnibus Agreement.
Other agreements include, but are not limited to, a master transportation services agreement, marine transportation agreements, terminal services agreements, a tolling agreement, and a sulfuric acid sales agency agreement. Pursuant to the terms of the Omnibus Agreement, we are prohibited from entering into certain material agreements with Martin Resource Management Corporation without the approval of the Conflicts Committee.
For a more comprehensive discussion concerning the Omnibus Agreement and the other agreements that we have entered into with Martin Resource Management Corporation, please see "Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence."
We have been and anticipate that we will continue to be both a significant customer and supplier of products and services offered by Martin Resource Management Corporation. In the aggregate, our purchases from Martin Resource Management Corporation accounted for approximately 7%, 5%, and 5% of our total cost of products sold during for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Correspondingly, Martin Resource Management Corporation is one of our significant customers. Our sales to Martin Resource Management Corporation accounted for approximately 11%, 11%, and 12% of our total revenues for each of the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively.
For a more comprehensive discussion concerning the Omnibus Agreement and the other agreements that we have entered into with Martin Resource Management Corporation, please see "Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence."
Approval and Review of Related Party Transactions
If we contemplate entering into a transaction, other than a routine or in the ordinary course of business transaction, in which a related person will have a direct or indirect material interest, the proposed transaction is submitted for consideration to the board of directors of our general partner or to our management, as appropriate. If the board of directors is involved in the approval process, it determines whether to refer the matter to the Conflicts Committee, as provided under our limited partnership agreement. If a matter is referred to the Conflicts Committee, it obtains information regarding the proposed transaction from management and determines whether to engage independent legal counsel or an independent financial advisor to advise the members of the committee regarding the transaction. If the Conflicts Committee retains such counsel or financial advisor, it considers such advice and, in the case of a financial advisor, such advisor’s opinion as to whether the transaction is fair and reasonable to us and to our unitholders.
Our deductible for onshore physical damage resulting from named windstorms is 5% of the total value located at an individual location subject to an overall minimum deductible of $1.0 million for damage caused by the named windstorm at all locations excluding Neches Industrial Park. Our onshore program currently provides $40.0 million per occurrence for named windstorm events. For non-windstorm events, our deductible applicable to onshore physical damage is $0.5 million per occurrence. Business interruption coverage in connection with a windstorm event is subject to the same $40.0 million per occurrence and aggregate limit as the property damage coverage and has a waiting period of 45 days. For non-windstorm events, our waiting period applicable to business interruption is 30 days.
We have various pollution liability policies which provide coverages ranging from remediation of our property to third party liability. The limits of these policies vary based on our assessments of exposure at each location.
Loss of, or damage to, our vessels and cargo is insured through hull and cargo insurance policies. Vessel operating liabilities such as collision, cargo, environmental and personal injury are insured primarily through our participation in mutual insurance associations and other reinsurance arrangements, pursuant to which we are potentially exposed to assessments in the event claims by us or other members exceed available funds and reinsurance. Protection and indemnity ("P&I") insurance coverage is provided by P&I associations and other insurance underwriters. Our vessels are entered in P&I associations that are parties to a pooling agreement, known as the International Group Pooling Agreement ("Pooling Agreement") through which approximately 90% of the world's ocean-going tonnage is reinsured through a group reinsurance policy. With regard to collision coverage, the first $1.0 million of coverage is insured by our hull policy and any excess is insured by a P&I association. We insure our owned cargo through a domestic insurance company. We insure cargo owned by third parties through our P&I coverage. As a member of P&I associations that are parties to the Pooling Agreement, we are subject to supplemental calls payable to the associations of which we are a member, based on our claims record and the other members of the other P&I associations that are parties to the Pooling Agreement. Except for our marine operations, we self-insure against liability exposure up to a predetermined amount, beyond which we are covered by catastrophe insurance coverage.
For marine claims, our insurance covers up to $1.0 billion of liability per accident or occurrence. We believe our current insurance coverage is adequate to protect us against most accident related risks involved in the conduct of our business. However, there can be no assurance that all risks are adequately insured against, that any particular claim will be paid by the insurer, or that we will be able to procure adequate insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates in the future.
Environmental and Regulatory Matters
Our activities are subject to various federal, state and local laws and regulations, as well as orders of regulatory bodies, governing a wide variety of matters, including marketing, production, pricing, community right-to-know, protection of the environment, safety and other matters.
We are subject to complex federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations governing the discharge of materials into the environment or otherwise relating to protection of human health, natural resources and the environment. These laws and regulations can impair our operations that affect the environment in many ways, such as requiring the acquisition of permits to conduct regulated activities; restricting the manner in which we can release materials into the environment; requiring remedial activities or capital expenditures to mitigate pollution from former or current operations; and imposing substantial liabilities on us for pollution resulting from our operations. Many environmental laws and regulations can impose joint and several, strict liability, and any failure to comply with environmental laws and regulations may result in the assessment of administrative, civil, and criminal penalties, the imposition of investigatory and remedial obligations, and, in some circumstances, the issuance of injunctions that can limit or prohibit our operations.
The clear trend in environmental regulation is to place more restrictions and limitations on activities that may affect the environment, and, thus, any changes in environmental laws and regulations that result in more stringent and costly pollutant control or waste handling, storage, transport, disposal, or remediation requirements could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial position. Moreover, there is inherent risk of incurring significant environmental costs and liabilities in the performance of our operations due to our handling of petroleum products and by-products, chemical substances, and wastes as well as the accidental release or spill of such materials into the environment. Consequently, we cannot provide assurance that we will not incur significant costs and liabilities as result of such handling practices, releases or spills, including those relating to claims for damage to property and persons. In the event of future increases in costs, we may be unable to pass on those increases to our customers. While we believe that we are in substantial compliance with current environmental laws and regulations and that continued compliance with existing requirements would not have a material adverse impact on us, we cannot provide any assurance that our environmental compliance expenditures will not have a material adverse effect on us in the future.
The Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, as amended, ("CERCLA"), also known as the "Superfund" law, and similar state laws, impose liability without regard to fault or the legality of the original conduct, on certain classes of "responsible persons," including the owner or operator of a site where regulated hazardous substances have been released into the environment and companies that disposed or arranged for the disposal of the hazardous substances found at such site. Under CERCLA, these responsible persons may be subject to joint and several strict liability for the costs of cleaning up the hazardous substances that have been released into the environment, for damages to natural resources, and for the costs of certain health studies, and it is not uncommon for neighboring landowners and other third parties to file claims for personal injury and property damage allegedly caused by the release of hazardous substances into the environment. Although certain hydrocarbons are not subject to CERCLA’s reach because "petroleum" is excluded from CERCLA’s definition of a "hazardous substance," in the course of our ordinary operations we will generate wastes that may fall within the definition of a "hazardous substance." In addition, some state counterparts to CERCLA tie liability to a broader set of substances than does CERCLA.
We generate both hazardous and nonhazardous solid wastes, which are subject to requirements of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as amended ("RCRA") and comparable state statutes. From time to time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") has considered making changes in nonhazardous waste standards that would result in stricter disposal requirements for these wastes. Furthermore, it is possible some wastes generated by us that are currently classified as nonhazardous may in the future be designated as "hazardous wastes," resulting in the wastes being subject to more rigorous and costly disposal requirements. Changes in applicable regulations may result in an increase in our capital expenditures or operating expenses.
We currently own or lease, and have in the past owned or leased, properties that have been used for the manufacturing, processing, transportation and storage of petroleum products and by-products. Solid waste disposal practices within oil and gas related industries have improved over the years with the passage and implementation of various environmental laws and regulations. Nevertheless, a possibility exists that petroleum and other solid wastes may have been disposed of on or under various properties owned or leased by us during the operating history of those facilities. In addition, a number of these properties have been operated by third parties over whom we had no control as to such entities’ handling of petroleum, petroleum by-products or other wastes and the manner in which such substances may have been disposed of or released. State and federal laws and regulations applicable to oil and natural gas wastes and properties have gradually become more strict and,
under such laws and regulations, we could be required to remove or remediate previously disposed wastes or property contamination, including groundwater contamination, even under circumstances where such contamination resulted from past operations of third parties.
Clean Air Act
Our operations are subject to the federal Clean Air Act ("CAA"), as amended, and comparable state statutes. Amendments to the CAA adopted in 1990 contain provisions that may result in the imposition of increasingly stringent pollution control requirements with respect to air emissions from the operations of our terminal facilities, processing and storage facilities and fertilizer and related products manufacturing and processing facilities. Such air pollution control requirements may include specific equipment or technologies to control emissions, permits with emissions and operational limitations, pre-approval of new or modified projects or facilities producing air emissions, and similar measures. Failure to comply with applicable air statutes or regulations may lead to the assessment of administrative, civil or criminal penalties, and/or result in the limitation or cessation of construction or operation of certain air emission sources. We believe our operations, including our manufacturing, processing and storage facilities and terminals, are in substantial compliance with applicable requirements of the CAA and analogous state laws.
Global Warming and Climate Change. Recent scientific studies have suggested that emissions of certain gases, commonly referred to as "greenhouse gases" and including carbon dioxide and methane, may be contributing to warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. In response to such studies, the U.S. Congress has from time to time considered climate change-related legislation to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. Many states have already taken legal measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, primarily through the planned development of greenhouse gas emission inventories and/or regional greenhouse gas cap and trade programs. Also, as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on April 2, 2007, in Massachusetts, et al. v. EPA, the EPA eventually concluded that it is required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from mobile sources (e.g., cars and trucks) even if Congress does not adopt new legislation specifically addressing emissions of greenhouse gases. The Court's holding in Massachusetts that greenhouse gases fall under the federal CAA's definition of air pollutant has also led the EPA to determine that regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under various Clean Air Act programs is required. To that end, EPA promulgated regulations, referred to as the Tailoring Rule, 75 Fed. Red. 31514, to begin gradually subjecting stationary greenhouse gas emission sources to various Clean Air Act programs, including permitting programs applicable to new and existing major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In reviewing the regulations at issue, the Supreme Court struck down EPA’s permitting requirements as applicable only to greenhouse gas emissions, although it upheld the EPA’s authority to control greenhouse gas emissions when a permit is required due to emissions of other pollutants.
On an international level, almost 200 nations agreed in December 2015 to an international climate change agreement in Paris, France that calls for countries to set their own greenhouse gas emissions targets and be transparent about the measures each country will use to achieve its emissions targets. In August 2017, the U.S. State Department officially informed the United Nations of the intent of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Notice of such withdrawal occurred on November 4, 2019, and will be effective one year from the date of delivery of such notice. Whether the United States may reenter the Paris Agreement or a separately negotiated agreement is unclear at this time. It is not possible at this time to predict how or when the United States might impose restrictions on GHGs as a result of this or another international climate change agreement. Further, several states and local governments have stated their commitment to its principles in their effectuation of policy and regulations. To date, applicable requirements have not had a substantial effect upon our operations. Still, new legislation or regulatory programs that restrict emissions of greenhouse gases in areas in which we conduct business could adversely affect our operations and demand for our services.
Moreover, in interpretative guidance on climate change disclosures, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") indicates that climate change could have an effect on the severity of weather (including hurricanes and floods), sea levels, the arability of farmland, and water availability and quality. If such effects were to occur, our operations have the potential to be adversely affected. Potential adverse effects could include disruption of our business activities, including, for example, damages to our facilities from powerful winds or floods, or increases in our costs of operation or reductions in the efficiency of our operations, as well as potentially increased costs for insurance coverages in the aftermath of such effects. Significant physical effects of climate change could also have an indirect effect on our financing and operations by disrupting the transportation or process related services provided by companies or suppliers with whom we have a business relationship. In addition, the demand for and consumption of our products and services (due to change in both costs and weather patterns), and the economic health of the regions in which we operate, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. We may not be able to recover through insurance some or any of the damages, losses or costs that may result from potential physical effects of climate change.
Clean Water Act
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, as amended, also known as Clean Water Act and comparable state laws impose restrictions and strict controls regarding the discharge of pollutants, including hydrocarbon-bearing wastes, into state waters and waters of the U.S. Pursuant to the Clean Water Act and similar state laws, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, or a state permit, or both, must be obtained to discharge pollutants into federal and state waters. In addition, the Clean Water Act and comparable state laws require that individual permits or coverage under general permits be obtained by subject facilities for discharges of storm water runoff. Furthermore, the Clean Water Act potentially requires individual permits or qualification for nationwide permits for activities that involve the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, the definition of which was expanded by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in a 2015 rulemaking. However, in October 2019, the subject rule was repealed and the pre-2015 regulatory text was re-codified, with changes effective December 23, 2019. The newly finalized rule has already been challenged in court. The scope of the CWA’s jurisdiction will likely remain fluid until a final regulatory determination is made and subsequent litigation, if any, is finalized. To the extent a rule ultimately promulgated expands the scope of the CWA’s jurisdiction, we could face increased costs and delays with respect to permitting. We believe that we are in substantial compliance with Clean Water Act permitting requirements as well as the conditions imposed thereunder, and that our continued compliance with such existing permit conditions will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Oil Pollution Act
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, as amended ("OPA") imposes a variety of regulations on "responsible parties" related to the prevention of oil spills and liability for damages resulting from such spills in U.S. waters. A "responsible party" includes the owner or operator of a facility or vessel or the lessee or permittee of the area in which an offshore facility is located. The OPA assigns liability to each responsible party for oil removal costs and a variety of public and private damages including natural resource damages. Under the OPA, vessels and shore facilities handling, storing, or transporting oil are required to develop and implement oil spill response plans, and vessels greater than 300 tons in weight must provide to the U.S. Coast Guard evidence of financial responsibility to cover the costs of cleaning up oil spills from such vessels. The OPA also requires that all newly constructed tank barges engaged in oil transportation in the U.S. be double hulled effective January 1, 2016. We believe we are in substantial compliance with all of the oil spill-related and financial responsibility requirements. Nonetheless, in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010, Congress has from time to time considered oil spill related legislation that could have the effect of substantially increasing financial responsibility requirements and potential fines and damages for violations and discharges subject to the OPA, and similar legislation. Any such changes in law affecting areas where we conduct business could materially affect our operations.
The Partnership’s marine transportation operations are subject to regulation by the U.S. Coast Guard, federal laws, state laws and certain international treaties. Tank ships, push boats, tugboats and barges are required to meet construction and repair standards established by the American Bureau of Shipping, a private organization, and the U.S. Coast Guard and to meet operational and safety standards presently established by the U.S. Coast Guard. We believe our marine operations and our terminals are in substantial compliance with current applicable safety requirements.
Occupational Health Regulations
The workplaces associated with our manufacturing, processing, terminal and storage facilities are subject to the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act ("OSHA") and comparable state statutes. We believe we have conducted our operations in substantial compliance with OSHA requirements, including general industry standards, record keeping requirements and monitoring of occupational exposure to regulated substances. Our marine vessel operations are also subject to safety and operational standards established and monitored by the U.S. Coast Guard.
In general, we expect to increase our expenditures relating to compliance with likely higher industry and regulatory safety standards such as those described above. These expenditures cannot be accurately estimated at this time, but we do not expect them to have a material adverse effect on our business.
The Jones Act is a federal law that restricts maritime transportation between locations in the U.S. to vessels built and registered in the U.S. and owned and manned by U.S. citizens. Since we engage in maritime transportation between locations in the U.S., we are subject to the provisions of the law. As a result, we are responsible for monitoring the ownership of our subsidiaries that engage in maritime transportation and for taking any remedial action necessary to ensure that no violation of the Jones Act ownership restrictions occurs. The Jones Act also requires that all U.S.-flagged vessels be manned by U.S. citizens. Foreign-flagged seamen generally receive lower wages and benefits than those received by U.S. citizen seamen. This requirement significantly increases operating costs of U.S.-flagged vessel operations compared to foreign-flagged vessel operations. Certain foreign governments subsidize their nations’ shipyards. This results in lower shipyard costs both for new vessels and repairs than those paid by U.S.-flagged vessel owners. The U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping maintain the most stringent regimen of vessel inspection in the world, which tends to result in higher regulatory compliance costs for U.S.-flagged operators than for owners of vessels registered under foreign flags of convenience.
Merchant Marine Act of 1936
The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 is a federal law that provides that, upon proclamation by the President of the U.S. of a national emergency or a threat to the national security, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may requisition or purchase any vessel or other watercraft owned by U.S. citizens (including us, provided that we are considered a U.S. citizen for this purpose). If one of our push boats, tugboats or tank barges were purchased or requisitioned by the U.S. government under this law, we would be entitled to be paid the fair market value of the vessel in the case of a purchase or, in the case of a requisition, the fair market value of charter hire. However, if one of our push boats or tugboats is requisitioned or purchased and its associated tank barge is left idle, we would not be entitled to receive any compensation for the lost revenues resulting from the idled barge. We also would not be entitled to be compensated for any consequential damages we suffer as a result of the requisition or purchase of any of our push boats, tugboats or tank barges.
Our trucking operations are subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Transportation and by various state agencies under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and analogous state laws. These regulatory authorities exercise broad powers, governing activities such as the authorization to engage in motor carrier operations, regulatory safety, driver licensing and insurance requirements, and the shipment and packaging of hazardous materials. Additional regulations apply specifically to the trucking industry, including testing and specification of equipment and product handling requirements. The trucking industry is subject to possible regulatory and legislative changes that may affect the economics of the industry by requiring changes in operating practices or by changing the demand for common or contract carrier services or the cost of providing truckload services. Some of these possible changes include increasingly stringent environmental regulations, changes in the hours of service regulations which govern the amount of time a driver may drive or work in any specific period, onboard black box recorder device requirements, or limits on vehicle weight and size. Moreover, various legislative proposals are occasionally introduced, including proposals to increase federal, state, or local taxes on motor fuels, among other things, which may increase our costs or adversely impact the recruitment of drivers. We cannot predict whether, or in what form, any increase in such taxes applicable to us will be enacted.
We do not have any employees. Under our Omnibus Agreement with Martin Resource Management Corporation, Martin Resource Management Corporation provides us with corporate staff and support services. These services include centralized corporate functions, such as accounting, treasury, engineering, information technology, insurance, administration of employee benefit plans and other corporate services. Martin Resource Management Corporation employs approximately 1,292 individuals, including 53 employees represented by labor unions, who provide direct support to our operations as of December 31, 2019.
Financial Information about Segments
Information regarding our operating revenues and identifiable assets attributable to each of our segments is presented in Note 20 to our consolidated financial statements included in this annual report on Form 10-K.
Access to Public Filings
We provide public access to our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to these reports filed with the SEC under the Exchange Act. These documents may be accessed free of charge on our website at the following address: www.MMLP.com. These documents are provided as soon as is reasonably practicable after their filing with the SEC. This website address is intended to be an inactive, textual reference only, and none of the material on this website is part of this report. These documents may also be found at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov.
Limited partner interests are inherently different from the capital stock of a corporation, although many of the business risks to which we are subject are similar to those that would be faced by a corporation engaged in a business similar to ours. If any of the following risks were actually to occur, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected. In this case, we might not be able to pay distributions on our common units, the trading price of our common units could decline and unitholders could lose all or part of their investment. These risk factors should be read in conjunction with the other detailed information concerning us set forth herein.
Risks Relating to Our Business
Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations include, but are not limited to, the risks set forth below. The risks described below should not be considered to be comprehensive and all-inclusive. Many of such factors are beyond our ability to control or predict. Unitholders are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Additional risks that we do not yet know of or that we currently think are immaterial may also impair our business operations, financial condition and results of operations.
We may not have sufficient cash after the establishment of cash reserves and payment of our general partner's expenses to enable us to pay a distribution each quarter.
We may not have sufficient available cash each quarter in the future to pay distributions on our units. Under the terms of our partnership agreement, we must pay our general partner's expenses and set aside any cash reserve amounts before making a distribution to our unitholders. The amount of cash we can distribute on our common units principally depends upon the amount of net cash generated from our operations, which will fluctuate from quarter to quarter based on, among other things:
•the costs of acquisitions, if any;
the prices of petroleum products and by-products;
fluctuations in our working capital;
the level of capital expenditures we make;
restrictions contained in our debt instruments and our debt service requirements;
our ability to make working capital borrowings under our credit facility; and
the amount, if any, of cash reserves established by our general partner in its discretion.
Unitholders should also be aware that the amount of cash we have available for distribution depends primarily on our cash flow, including cash flow from working capital borrowings, and not solely on profitability, which will be affected by non-cash items. Other than the requirement in our partnership agreement to distribute all of our available cash each quarter, we have no legal obligation to declare quarterly cash distributions, and our general partner has considerable discretion to determine the amount of our available cash each quarter. Consistent with our strategy of reducing leverage and improving liquidity, on January 28, 2020, we announced a $0.75 per unit reduction on our cash distribution on an annual basis. As we continue to pursue the strategy discussed above, we may not be able to maintain or increase the distributions on our common units. In addition, our general partner determines the amount and timing of asset purchases and sales, capital expenditures, borrowings, issuances of additional partnership securities and the establishment of reserves, each of which can affect the amount of cash
available for distribution to our unitholders. As a result, we may make cash distributions during periods when we record losses and may not make cash distributions during periods when we record net income.
Restrictions in our credit facility could prevent us from making distributions to our unitholders.
The payment of principal and interest on our indebtedness reduces the cash available for distribution to our unitholders. In addition, we are prohibited by our credit facility from making cash distributions during a default or an event of default under our credit facility or if the payment of a distribution would cause a default or an event of default thereunder. Our leverage and various limitations in our credit facility may reduce our ability to incur additional debt, engage in certain transactions, and capitalize on acquisition or other business opportunities that could increase cash flows and distributions to our unitholders.
Demand for a portion of our terminalling and storage services is substantially dependent on the level of offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production activity.
The level of offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production activity historically has been volatile and is likely to continue to be so in the future. The level of activity is subject to large fluctuations in response to relatively minor changes in a variety of factors that are beyond our control, including:
prevailing oil and natural gas prices and expectations about future prices and price volatility;
the ability of exploration and production companies to drill in other basins that have more attractive rates of return;
the cost of offshore exploration for and production and transportation of oil and natural gas;
worldwide demand for oil and natural gas (e.g., the reduced demand following the recent coronavirus outbreaks);
consolidation of oil and gas and oil service companies operating offshore;
availability and rate of discovery of new oil and natural gas reserves in offshore areas;
local and international political and economic conditions and policies;
technological advances affecting energy production and consumption;
environmental regulation; and
the ability of oil and gas companies to generate or otherwise obtain funds for exploration and production
As a result of the decline in commodity prices that began in the second half of 2014, offshore development activity in the Gulf of Mexico declined substantially, diminishing demand for our terminalling and storage services. We can offer no assurance whether or when those activity levels will improve. Even if such activity levels improve, we expect such activity to continue to be volatile and affect demand for our terminalling and storage services.
We have a significant amount of indebtedness. Our leverage and debt service obligations may adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and business prospects.
As of December 31, 2019, we had approximately $589.9 in principal amount of debt outstanding (including $201.0 million of secured debt outstanding under our revolving credit facility and $12.6 million of outstanding irrevocable letters of credit). Our revolving credit facility matures on August 31, 2023 unless the 2021 Notes have not been refinanced on or before August 19, 2020. See Note 16 of the notes to our consolidated financial statements included in this annual report on Form 10-K for further discussion of our long-term debt obligations.
The level of and terms and conditions governing our debt:
require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to service our existing debt obligations and could limit our flexibility in planning for or reacting to changes in our business and the industry in which we operate;
increase our vulnerability to the cyclical nature of our business, economic downturns or other adverse developments in our business;
could limit our ability to access capital markets, refinance our existing indebtedness, raise capital on favorable terms, or obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, debt service requirements, execution of our business strategy, or for other purposes;
expose us to the risk of increased interest rates as certain of our borrowings, including borrowings under our revolving credit facility, bear interest at floating rates;
place restrictions on our ability to obtain additional financing, make investments, lease equipment, sell assets and engage in business combinations;
place us at a competitive disadvantage relative to competitors with lower levels of indebtedness in relation to their overall size, or those that have less restrictive terms governing their indebtedness, thereby enabling competitors to take advantage of opportunities that our indebtedness may prevent us from pursuing;
limit management’s discretion in operating our business; and
increase our cost of borrowing.
Any of the above listed factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations.
Our ability to pay our expenses and fund our working capital needs and debt obligations will depend on our future performance, which will be affected by financial, business, economic, regulatory and other factors. We will not be able to control many of these factors, such as commodity prices, other economic conditions and governmental regulation. In addition, we cannot be certain that our cash flow will be sufficient to allow us to pay the principal and interest on our debt and meet our other obligations. If we are unable to service our indebtedness and other obligations, we may be required to restructure or refinance all or part of our existing debt, sell assets, reduce capital expenditures, borrow more money or raise equity, some or all of which may not be available to us on terms acceptable to us, if at all, or such alternative strategies may yield insufficient funds to make required payments on our indebtedness. In addition, our ability to comply with the financial and other restrictive covenants in our indebtedness could be affected by our future performance and events or circumstances beyond our control. Failure to comply with these covenants would result in an event of default under such indebtedness, the potential acceleration of our obligation to repay outstanding debt and the potential foreclosure on the collateral securing such debt, and could cause a cross-default under our other outstanding indebtedness.
We are currently seeking to refinance the 2021 Notes, although no assurance can be given that we will be able to refinance the 2021 Notes. If we are unable to refinance the 2021 Notes and are unable to repay the outstanding borrowings under our revolving credit facility on August 19, 2020, we would be in default under our revolving credit facility. An event of default under our revolving credit facility would allow the lenders to declare the balance outstanding thereunder due and payable in full, which could trigger cross-defaults under other agreements, which could also result in the acceleration of those obligations by the counterparties to those agreements. Any of the above risks could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, cash flows and results of operations.
We have significant capital needs, and our ability to access the capital and credit markets to raise capital on favorable terms is limited by our debt level and industry conditions.
As of December 31, 2019, we had $201.0 million of borrowings outstanding under our revolving credit facility. Our revolving credit facility matures on August 31, 2023 unless the 2021 Notes have not been refinanced on or before August 19, 2020. Accessing capital in the capital markets in recent months has been difficult for companies in the energy industry. Disruptions in the capital and credit markets, in particular with respect to the energy sector, could limit our ability to access these markets or may significantly increase our cost to borrow. If we are unable to access the capital and credit markets, we may not be able to refinance the 2021 Notes prior to August 19, 2020, at which time our revolving credit facility would mature and we would be required to repay all amounts borrowed thereunder. Low commodity prices have caused and may continue to
cause lenders to increase interest rates, enact tighter lending standards, refuse to refinance existing debt around maturity on favorable terms or at all and may reduce or cease to provide funding to borrowers. Our inability to access the capital or credit markets on favorable terms could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and liquidity and our ability to repay or refinance our debt.
If we are unable to generate enough cash flow from operations to service our indebtedness or are unable to use future borrowings to refinance our indebtedness or fund other capital needs, we may have to undertake alternative financing plans, which may have onerous terms or may be unavailable.
Our primary sources of liquidity to meet operating expenses, service our indebtedness, pay distributions to our unitholders and fund capital expenditures have historically been provided by cash flows generated by our operations, borrowings under our revolving credit facility and access to the debt and equity capital markets. Our ability to generate cash from operations will depend upon our future operating performance, which is subject to certain risks.
Our earnings and cash flow could vary significantly from year to year due to the volatility of our business. As a result, the amount of debt that we can manage in some periods may not be appropriate for us in other periods. Additionally, our future cash flow may be insufficient to meet our debt obligations and commitments. A range of economic, competitive, business and industry factors will affect our future financial performance and, as a result, our ability to generate cash flow from operations and service our debt. Factors that may cause us to generate cash flow that is insufficient to meet our debt obligations include the events and risks related to our business, many of which are beyond our control. Any cash flow insufficiency would have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and liquidity and our ability to repay or refinance our debt.
In addition, while our revolving credit facility has $400.0 million in lender commitments, the amount we are able to borrow is limited by the financial covenants contained therein, including covenants that limit the amount we may borrow based on our trailing four quarter consolidated EBITDA ("Compliance EBITDA"). As of December 31, 2019, we had the ability to borrow approximately $51.5 million under our revolving credit facility due to such financial covenants. As our Compliance EBITDA has declined over the last five years, the amount we are permitted to borrow has likewise declined, and further decreases in our Compliance EBITDA will further limit our borrowing capacity. As a result, we may have limited ability to obtain the capital necessary to sustain our operations.
If we do not generate sufficient cash flow from operations to service our outstanding indebtedness, or if future borrowings are not available to us in an amount sufficient to enable us to pay or refinance our indebtedness, we may be required to undertake various alternative financing plans, which may include:
refinancing or restructuring all or a portion of our debt;
seeking alternative financing or additional capital investment;
selling strategic assets;
reducing or delaying capital investments; or
revising or delaying our strategic plans.
We cannot assure you that we would be able to implement any of the above alternative financing plans, if necessary, on commercially reasonable terms or at all. If we are unable to generate sufficient cash flow to satisfy our debt obligations or to obtain alternative financing, our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, ability to pay distributions to our unitholders, and liquidity could be materially and adversely affected. Any failure to make scheduled payments of interest and principal on our outstanding indebtedness would likely result in a reduction of our credit rating, which could significantly harm our ability to incur additional indebtedness on acceptable terms. Further, if for any reason we are unable to meet our debt service and repayment obligations, we would be in default under the terms of the agreements governing our debt, which would allow our creditors under those agreements to declare all outstanding indebtedness thereunder to be due and payable (which would in turn trigger cross-acceleration or cross-default rights between the relevant agreements), the lenders under our revolving credit facility could terminate their commitments to extend credit, and the lenders could foreclose against our assets securing their borrowings and we could be forced into bankruptcy or liquidation. In addition, the lenders under our revolving credit facility could compel us to apply our available cash to repay our borrowings. If the amounts outstanding under our revolving credit facility or any of our other significant indebtedness were to be accelerated, we cannot assure you that our assets would be sufficient to repay in full the amounts owed to the lenders or to our other debt holders.
Debt we owe or incur in the future could limit our flexibility to obtain financing, pursue other business opportunities, and to pay distributions to our unitholders.
Our indebtedness could have important consequences, 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;
our funds available for operations, future business opportunities and distributions to unitholders will be reduced by that portion of our cash flows required to make interest payments on the debt;
we may be more vulnerable to competitive pressures or a downturn in our business or the economy generally; and
our flexibility in responding to changing business and economic conditions may be limited.
Our ability to service our debt will depend upon, among other things, our future financial and operating performance, which will be 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 any current or future indebtedness, we will be forced to take actions such as further reducing distributions, reducing or delaying our business activities, acquisitions, investments or capital expenditures, selling assets or seeking additional equity capital. We may not be able to effect any of these actions on satisfactory terms or at all. Further, agreements we may enter into in the future governing our indebtedness could further restrict our ability to make quarterly distributions to our unitholders.
Fluctuations in interest rates could materially affect our financial results.
Because a significant portion of our debt bears interest at variable rates, increases in interest rates could materially increase our interest expense. Based on our debt outstanding as of December 31, 2019, if interest rates were to increase by 100 basis points, the corresponding increase in interest expense on our variable rate debt would decrease future earnings and cash flows by approximately $2.0 million per year.
Further, LIBOR and certain other interest rate "benchmarks" are the subject of recent national, international, and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. These reforms may cause such benchmarks to perform differently than in the past or have other consequences which cannot be predicted. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, publicly announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit LIBOR rates after 2021. It is expected that a transition away from the widespread use of LIBOR to alternative rates will occur over the course of the next several years. As a result of this transition, LIBOR may disappear entirely or perform differently than in the past. At this time, it is not possible to predict the effect any discontinuance, modification or other reforms to LIBOR or any other reference rate, or the establishment of alternative reference rates will have on us. However, if LIBOR ceases to exist or if the methods of calculating LIBOR change from their current form, our borrowing costs on our variable rate indebtedness may be adversely affected.
We are exposed to counterparty risk in our credit facility and related interest rate protection agreements.
We rely on our credit facility to assist in financing a significant portion of our working capital, acquisitions and capital expenditures. Our ability to borrow under our credit facility may be impaired because:
one or more of our lenders may be unable or otherwise fail to meet its funding obligations;
the lenders do not have to provide funding if there is a default under the credit facility or if any of the representations or warranties included in the credit facility are false in any material respect; and
if any lender refuses to fund its commitment for any reason, whether or not valid, the other lenders are not required to provide additional funding to make up for the unfunded portion.
If we are unable to access funds under our credit facility, we will need to meet our capital requirements, including some of our short-term capital requirements, using other sources. Alternative sources of liquidity may not be available on acceptable terms, if at all. If the cash generated from our operations or the funds we are able to obtain under our credit facility
or other sources of liquidity are not sufficient to meet our capital requirements, then we may need to delay or abandon capital projects or other business opportunities, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, we have from time to time entered into interest rate protection agreements to manage our interest rate risk exposure by fixing a portion of the interest expense we pay on our long-term debt under our credit facility. If the counterparties fail to honor their commitments, we could experience higher interest rates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if the counterparties fail to honor their commitments, we also may be required to replace such interest rate protection agreements with new interest rate protection agreements, and such replacement interest rate protection agreements may be at higher rates than our current interest rate protection agreements, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are exposed to counterparty credit risk. Nonpayment and nonperformance by our customers, suppliers or vendors could reduce our revenues, increase our expenses and otherwise have a negative impact on our ability to conduct our business, operating results, cash flows and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Weak economic conditions and widespread financial distress could reduce the liquidity of our customers, suppliers or vendors, making it more difficult for them to meet their obligations to us. We are therefore subject to risks of loss resulting from nonpayment or nonperformance by our customers. Severe financial problems encountered by our customers could limit our ability to collect amounts owed to us, or to enforce the performance of obligations owed to us under contractual arrangements. In the event that any of our customers was to enter into bankruptcy, we could lose all or a portion of the amounts owed to us by such customer, and we may be forced to cancel all or a portion of our contracts with such customer at significant expense to us.
In addition, nonperformance by suppliers or vendors who have committed to provide us with critical products or services could raise our costs or interfere with our ability to successfully conduct our business.
Our recent and future acquisitions may not be successful, may substantially increase our indebtedness and contingent liabilities and may create integration difficulties.
We may not be able to successfully integrate recent or any future acquisitions into our existing operations or achieve the desired profitability from such acquisitions. These acquisitions may require substantial capital expenditures and the incurrence of additional indebtedness. If we make acquisitions, our capitalization and results of operations may change significantly. Further, any acquisition could result in:
post-closing discovery of material undisclosed liabilities of the acquired business or assets;
the unexpected loss of key employees or customers from the acquired businesses;
difficulties resulting from our integration of the operations, systems and management of the acquired business; and
an unexpected diversion of our management's attention from other operations.
If recent or any future acquisitions are unsuccessful or result in unanticipated events or if we are unable to successfully integrate acquisitions into our existing operations, such acquisitions could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our and our customers’ operations are subject to a series of risks arising out of the threat of climate change that could result in increased operating costs and reduced demand for our services.
The threat of climate change continues to attract considerable attention in the United States and in foreign countries. Numerous proposals have been made and could continue to be made at the international, national, regional, and state levels to monitor and limit existing emissions of greenhouse gases ("GHGs") as well as to restrict or eliminate such future emissions. As a result, our operations, as well as the operations of our customers, are subject to a series of regulatory, political, financial, and litigation risks associated with the processing, terminalling, storage, and transportation of fossil fuels, petroleum products, and emission of GHGs.
In the United States, no comprehensive climate change legislation has been implemented at the federal level. However, the EPA has adopted rules that, among other things, establish construction and operating permit reviews for GHG emissions from certain large stationary sources, require the monitoring and annual reporting of GHG emissions from certain petroleum and natural gas system sources in the United States, and implement New Source Performance Standards directing the reduction of methane from certain new, modified, or reconstructed facilities in the oil and natural gas sector, including midstream sources. However, while many states continue to implement regulations to control emissions of methane, the future of federal regulation of methane emissions is in doubt as a result of recent actions by the EPA. Despite potential changes with respect to the federal regulation of GHGs, various states and groups of states have adopted or are considering adopting legislation, regulations, or other regulatory initiatives that are focused on such areas as GHG cap and trade programs, carbon taxes, reporting and tracking programs, and various other measures that would restrict emissions of GHGs from different industrial sectors. At the international level, pursuant to the non-binding United Nations-sponsored Paris Agreement, over 180 nations have committed to limit their GHG emissions through individually-determined reduction goals every five years after 2020, although the United States has announced its withdrawal from such agreement, effective November 4, 2020. Such state, federal, and international regulatory measures have the potential to increase our operating costs through direct regulation of GHG emissions resulting from our operations, and could also indirectly adversely affect our operations by decreasing demand for our services and products.
Additionally, there are increasing potential financial risks for fossil fuel energy companies as environmental activists concerned about the potential effects of climate change are focusing intensive lobbying efforts on institutional lenders, including financial institutions and institutional investors, not to provide funding to such companies. Institutional lenders may, of their own accord, elect not to provide funding to fossil fuel energy companies based on climate change concerns. Limitation of investments in fossil fuel energy companies could result in the restriction, delay, or cancellation of drilling programs or development or production activities of our customers, and, consequently, reduce their demand for our services.
Separately, increased attention to climate change risks has increased the possibility of claims brought by public and private entities against energy companies in connection with their GHG emissions and alleged damages resulting from the alleged physical impacts of climate change, such as flooding, coastal erosion, and severe weather events. While courts have generally declined to assign direct liability for climate change to large sources of GHG emissions, new claims for damages and increased government scrutiny, especially from state and local governments, will likely continue. While we are not currently party to any such private litigation, we could be named in future actions making similar claims of liability. Moreover, societal pressures or political or other factors may shape the success of such claims, without regard to the company’s causation of or contribution to the asserted damage, or to other mitigating factors.
The adoption and implementation of new or more stringent international, federal, or state legislation, regulations, or other regulatory initiatives that impose more stringent standards for GHG emissions from oil and natural gas producers or their midstream services providers such as ourselves could result in increased costs of compliance or costs of consuming, and thereby reduce demand for or erode value for, the petroleum products and by-products that we process, store and transport. Additionally, political, financial, and litigation risks may result in our customers restricting or cancelling oil and natural gas production activities, which could result in reduced demand for our services. We may also suffer claims for infrastructure damages allegedly caused by climactic changes or be unable to continue to operate in an economic manner. One or more of these developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Subsidence and coastal erosion could damage our facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast and offshore and the facilities of our customers, which could adversely affect our operations and financial condition.
Our assets and operations along the U.S. Gulf Coast and offshore could be impacted by subsidence and coastal erosion. Such processes potentially could cause serious damage to our terminal facilities, which could affect our ability to provide our processing, terminalling, storage and transportation services in the manner presently provided or in a manner consistent with our present plans. Additionally, such processes could impact our customers who operate along the U.S. Gulf Coast, and they may be unable to utilize our services. Subsidence and coastal erosion could also expose our operations to increased risk associated with severe weather conditions, such as hurricanes, flooding, and rising sea levels. As a result, we may incur significant costs to repair and preserve our facilities. Such costs could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
Adverse weather conditions, including droughts, hurricanes, tropical storms and other severe weather, could reduce our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our distribution network and operations are primarily concentrated in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and along the Mississippi River inland waterway. Weather in these regions is sometimes severe (including tropical storms and hurricanes) and can be a major factor in our day-to-day operations. Our marine transportation operations can be significantly delayed,
impaired or postponed by adverse weather conditions, such as fog in the winter and spring months and certain river conditions. Additionally, our marine transportation operations and our assets in the Gulf of Mexico, including our barges, push boats, tugboats and terminals, can be adversely impacted or damaged by hurricanes, tropical storms, tidal waves or other related events. Demand for our lubricants and the diesel fuel we throughput in our Terminalling and Storage segment can be affected if offshore drilling operations are disrupted by weather in the Gulf of Mexico.
National weather conditions have a substantial impact on the demand for our products. Unusually warm weather during the winter months can cause a significant decrease in the demand for NGL products. Likewise, extreme weather conditions (either wet or dry) has in recent years decreased the demand for fertilizer. For example, an unusually wet spring can delay planting of seeds, which can leave insufficient time to apply fertilizer at the planting stage. Conversely, drought conditions can kill or severely stunt the growth of crops, thus eliminating the need to nurture plants with fertilizer. Any of these or similar conditions could result in a decline in our net income and cash flow, which would reduce our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
If we incur material liabilities that are not fully covered by insurance, such as liabilities resulting from accidents on rivers or at sea, spills, fires or explosions, our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders could be adversely affected.
Our operations are subject to the operating hazards and risks incidental to terminalling and storage, marine transportation and the distribution of petroleum products and by-products and other industrial products. These hazards and risks, many of which are beyond our control, include:
accidents on rivers or at sea and other hazards that could result in releases, spills and other environmental damages, personal injuries, loss of life and suspension of operations;
leakage of NGLs and other petroleum products and by-products;
damage to transportation, terminalling and storage facilities and surrounding properties caused by natural disasters; and
terrorist attacks or sabotage.
Our insurance coverage may not be adequate to protect us from all material expenses related to potential future claims for personal-injury and property damage, including various legal proceedings and litigation resulting from these hazards and risks. If we incur material liabilities that are not covered by insurance, our operating results, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders could be adversely affected.
Changes in the insurance markets attributable to the effects of hurricanes and their aftermath may make some types of insurance more difficult or expensive for us to obtain. As a result, we may be unable to secure the levels and types of insurance we would otherwise have secured prior to such events. Moreover, the insurance that may be available to us may be significantly more expensive than our existing insurance coverage.
The price volatility of petroleum products and by-products could reduce our liquidity and results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
We purchase petroleum products and by-products, such as molten sulfur, fuel oils, NGLs (including normal butane), lubricants, and other bulk liquids and sell these products to wholesale and bulk customers and to other end users. We also generate revenues through the terminalling and storage of certain products for third parties. The price and market value of petroleum products and by-products could be, and has recently been, volatile. Our liquidity and revenues have been adversely affected by this volatility during periods of decreasing prices because of the reduction in the value and resale price of our inventory. In addition, our liquidity and costs have been adversely affected during periods of increasing prices because of the increased costs associated with our purchase of petroleum products and by-products. Future price volatility could have an adverse impact on our liquidity and results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Increasing energy prices could adversely affect our results of operations.
Increasing energy prices could adversely affect our results of operations. Diesel fuel, natural gas, chemicals and other supplies are recorded in operating expenses. An increase in price of these products would increase our operating expenses, which could adversely affect our results of operations including net income and cash flows. We cannot assure unitholders that we will be able to pass along increased operating expenses to our customers.
Decreasing energy prices could adversely affect our results of operations.
Decreasing energy prices could adversely affect our results of operations. If commodity prices remain weak for a sustained period, our terminalling throughput and NGL volumes may be negatively impacted, particularly as producers are curtailing or redirecting drilling, adversely affecting our results of operations. A sustained decline in commodity prices could result in a decrease in activity in the areas served by certain of our terminalling and storage and marine transportation assets resulting in reduced utilization of these assets.
Our NGL and sulfur-based fertilizer products are subject to seasonal demand and could cause our revenues to vary.
The demand for NGLs is highest in the winter. Therefore, revenue from our NGL business is higher in the winter than in other seasons. Our sulfur-based fertilizer products experience an increase in demand during the spring, which increases the revenue generated by this business line in this period compared to other periods. The seasonality of the revenue from these products may cause our results of operations to vary on a quarter-to-quarter basis and thus could cause our cash available for quarterly distributions to fluctuate from period to period.
The highly competitive nature of our industry could adversely affect our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
We operate in a highly competitive marketplace in each of our primary business segments. Most of our competitors in each segment are larger companies with greater financial and other resources than we possess. We may lose customers and future business opportunities to our competitors and any such losses could adversely affect our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our business is subject to compliance with environmental laws and regulations that could expose us to significant costs and liabilities and adversely affect our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our business is subject to federal, state and local environmental laws and regulations governing the discharge of materials into the environment or otherwise relating to protection of human health, natural resources and the environment. These laws and regulations may impose numerous obligations that are applicable to our operations, such as: requiring the acquisition of permits to conduct regulated activities; restricting the manner in which we can release materials into the environment; requiring remedial activities or capital expenditures to mitigate pollution from former or current operations; and imposing substantial liabilities on us for pollution resulting from our operations. Numerous governmental authorities, such as the U.S. EPA and analogous state agencies, have the power to enforce compliance with these laws and regulations and the permits issued under them, oftentimes requiring difficult and costly actions. Many environmental laws and regulations can impose joint and several strict liability, and any failure to comply with environmental laws, regulations and permits may result in the assessment of administrative, civil and criminal penalties, the imposition of investigatory and remedial obligations and, in some circumstances, the issuance of injunctions that can limit or prohibit our operations. The clear trend in environmental regulation is to place more restrictions and limitations on activities that may affect the environment, and, thus, any changes in environmental laws and regulations that result in more stringent and costly waste handling, storage, transport, disposal or remediation requirements could have a material adverse effect on our operations and financial position.
The loss or insufficient attention of key personnel could negatively impact our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our success is largely dependent upon the continued services of members of the senior management team of Martin Resource Management Corporation. Those senior officers have significant experience in our businesses and have developed strong relationships with a broad range of industry participants. The loss of any of these executives could have a material adverse effect on our relationships with these industry participants, our results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
We do not have employees. We rely solely on officers and employees of Martin Resource Management Corporation to operate and manage our business. Martin Resource Management Corporation operates businesses and conducts activities of its own in which we have no economic interest. There could be competition for the time and effort of the officers and employees who provide services to our general partner. If these officers and employees do not or cannot devote sufficient attention to the management and operation of our business, our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders may be reduced.
Our loss of significant commercial relationships with Martin Resource Management Corporation could adversely impact our results of operations and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Martin Resource Management Corporation provides us with various services and products pursuant to various commercial contracts. The loss of any of these services and products provided by Martin Resource Management Corporation could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders. Additionally, we provide terminalling and storage, processing and marine transportation services to Martin Resource Management Corporation to support its businesses under various commercial contracts. The loss of Martin Resource Management Corporation as a customer could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our business could be adversely affected if operations at our transportation, terminalling and storage and distribution facilities experienced significant interruptions. Our business could also be adversely affected if the operations of our customers and suppliers experienced significant interruptions.
Our operations are dependent upon our terminalling and storage facilities and various means of transportation. We are also dependent upon the uninterrupted operations of certain facilities owned or operated by our suppliers and customers. Any significant interruption at these facilities or inability to transport products to or from these facilities or to or from our customers for any reason would adversely affect our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders. Operations at our facilities and at the facilities owned or operated by our suppliers and customers could be partially or completely shut down, temporarily or permanently, as the result of any number of circumstances that are not within our control, such as:
catastrophic events, including hurricanes;
disruptions in the supply of our products to our facilities or means of transportation.
Additionally, terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage could target oil and gas production facilities, refineries, processing plants, terminals and other infrastructure facilities. Any significant interruptions at our facilities, facilities owned or operated by our suppliers or customers, or in the oil and gas industry as a whole caused by such attacks or acts could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
NASDAQ does not require a publicly traded partnership like us to comply with certain of its corporate governance requirements, and therefore, unitholders do not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of corporations subject to all NASDAQ requirements.
Because we are a publicly traded partnership, the Nasdaq Global Select Market ("NASDAQ") does not require our general partner to have a majority of independent directors on its board of directors or to establish a compensation committee or nominating and corporate governance committee. Accordingly, unitholders do not have the same protections afforded to certain corporations that are subject to all of NASDAQ corporate governance requirements.
Our marine transportation business could be adversely affected if we do not satisfy the requirements of the Jones Act or if the Jones Act were modified or eliminated.
The Jones Act is a federal law that restricts domestic marine transportation in the U.S. to vessels built and registered in the U.S. Furthermore, the Jones Act requires that the vessels be manned and owned by U.S. citizens. If we fail to comply with these requirements, our vessels lose their eligibility to engage in coastwise trade within U.S. domestic waters.
The requirements that our vessels be U.S. built and manned by U.S. citizens, the crewing requirements and material requirements of the Coast Guard and the application of U.S. labor and tax laws significantly increase the costs of U.S. flagged vessels when compared with foreign-flagged vessels. During the past several years, certain interest groups have lobbied Congress to repeal the Jones Act to facilitate foreign flag competition for trades and cargoes reserved for U.S. flagged vessels under the Jones Act and cargo preference laws. If the Jones Act were to be modified to permit foreign competition that would not be subject to the same U.S. government imposed costs, we may need to lower the prices we charge for our services in order to compete with foreign competitors, which would adversely affect our cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Our marine transportation business could be adversely affected if the U.S. Government purchases or requisitions any of our vessels under the Merchant Marine Act.
We are subject to the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, which provides that, upon proclamation by the U.S. President of a national emergency or a threat to the national security, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation may requisition or purchase any vessel or other watercraft owned by U.S. citizens (including us, provided that we are considered a U.S. citizen for this purpose). If one of our push boats, tugboats or tank barges were purchased or requisitioned by the U.S. government under this law, we would be entitled to be paid the fair market value of the vessel in the case of a purchase or, in the case of a requisition, the fair market value of charter hire. However, if one of our push boats or tugboats is requisitioned or purchased and its associated tank barge is left idle, we would not be entitled to receive any compensation for the lost revenues resulting from the idled barge. We also would not be entitled to be compensated for any consequential damages we suffer as a result of the requisition or purchase of any of our push boats, tugboats or tank barges. If any of our vessels are purchased or requisitioned for an extended period of time by the U.S. government, such transactions could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Changes in transportation regulations may increase our costs and negatively impact our results of operations.
We are subject to various transportation regulations by the U.S. Department of Transportation and analogous state agencies, whose regulations include certain permit requirements of highway and safety authorities. These regulatory authorities exercise broad powers over our trucking operations, generally governing such matters as the authorization to engage in motor carrier operations, safety, equipment testing, driver requirements and specifications, and insurance requirements. The trucking industry is subject to possible regulatory and legislative changes that may impact our operations, such as changes in fuel emissions limits, hours of service regulations that govern the amount of time a driver may drive or work in any specific period, and limits on vehicle weight and size. As the federal government continues to develop and propose regulations relating to fuel quality, engine efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, we may experience an increase in costs related to truck purchases and maintenance, impairment of equipment productivity, a decrease in the residual value of vehicles, and an increase in operating expenses. Increased truck traffic may contribute to deteriorating road conditions in some areas where we operate. Our operations could also be affected by road construction, road repairs, detours and state and local regulations and ordinances restricting access to certain roads. Proposals to increase federal, state, or local taxes, including taxes on motor fuels, are also made from time to time, and any such increase could increase our operating costs. Additionally, state and local regulation of permitted routes and times on specific roadways could adversely affect our operations. We cannot predict whether, or in what form, any legislative or regulatory changes or municipal ordinances applicable to our trucking operations will be enacted or to what extent any such legislation or regulations could increase our costs or otherwise adversely affect our business or operations.
Our interest rate swap activities could have a material adverse effect on our earnings, profitability, liquidity, cash flows and financial condition.
We enter into interest rate swap agreements from time to time to manage some of our exposure to interest rate volatility. These swap agreements involve risks, such as the risk that counterparties may fail to honor their obligations under these arrangements. In addition, these arrangements may not be effective in reducing our exposure to changes in interest rates. When we use forward-starting interest rate swaps, there is a risk that we will not complete the long-term borrowing against which the swap is intended to hedge. If such events occur, our results of operations may be adversely affected.
The industry in which we operate is highly competitive, and increased competitive pressure could adversely affect our business and operating results.
We compete with similar enterprises in our respective areas of operation. Some of our competitors are large oil, natural gas and petrochemical companies that have greater financial resources and access to supplies of NGLs than we do. Our
customers who produce NGLs may develop their own systems to transport NGLs in lieu of using ours. Our ability to renew or replace existing contracts with our customers at rates sufficient to maintain current revenues and cash flows could be adversely affected by the activities of our competitors and our customers. All of these competitive pressures could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Information technology systems present potential targets for cyber security attacks, which could adversely affect our business.
We are reliant on technology to improve efficiency in our business. Information technology systems are critical to our operations. These systems could be a potential target for a cyber security attack as they are used to store and process sensitive information regarding our operations, financial position, and information pertaining to our customers and vendors. While we take the utmost precautions, we cannot guarantee safety from all threats and attacks. Any successful breach of security could result in the spread of inaccurate or confidential information, disruption of operations, environmental harm, endangerment of employees, damage to our assets, and increased costs to respond. Any of these instances could have a negative impact on cash flows, litigation status and/or our reputation, which could have a material adverse affect on our business, financial conditions and operations. While we make significant investments in technology security and we carefully evaluate the security of selected cloud system providers and cloud storage providers, there can be no guarantee that information security efforts will be totally effective.
Risks Relating to an Investment in the Common Units
Units available for future sales by us or our affiliates could have an adverse impact on the price of our common units or on any trading market that may develop.
Common units will generally be freely transferable without restriction or further registration under the Securities Act, except that any common units held by an "affiliate" of ours may not be resold publicly except in compliance with the registration requirements of the Securities Act or under an exemption under Rule 144 or otherwise.
Our partnership agreement provides that we may issue an unlimited number of limited partner interests of any type without a vote of the unitholders. Our general partner may also cause us to issue an unlimited number of additional common units or other equity securities of equal rank with the common units, without unitholder approval, in a number of circumstances such as:
the issuance of common units in additional public offerings or in connection with acquisitions that increase cash flow from operations on a pro forma, per unit basis;
the conversion of subordinated units into common units;
the conversion of units of equal rank with the common units into common units under some circumstances; or
the conversion of our general partner's general partner interest in us and its incentive distribution rights into common units as a result of the withdrawal of our general partner.
Our partnership agreement does not restrict our ability to issue equity securities ranking junior to the common units at any time. Any issuance of additional common units or other equity securities would result in a corresponding decrease in the proportionate ownership interest in us represented by, and could adversely affect the cash distributions to and market price of, common units then outstanding.
Under our partnership agreement, our general partner and its affiliates have the right to cause us to register under the Securities Act and applicable state securities laws the offer and sale of any units that they hold. Subject to the terms and conditions of our partnership agreement, these registration rights allow the general partner and its affiliates or their assignees holding any units to require registration of any of these units and to include any of these units in a registration by us of other units, including units offered by us or by any unitholder. Our general partner will continue to have these registration rights for two years following its withdrawal or removal as a general partner. In connection with any registration of this kind, we will indemnify each unitholder participating in the registration and its officers, directors, and controlling persons from and against any liabilities under the Securities Act or any applicable state securities laws arising from the registration statement or prospectus. Except as described below, the general partner and its affiliates may sell their units in private transactions at any
time, subject to compliance with applicable laws. Our general partner and its affiliates, with our concurrence, have granted comparable registration rights to their bank group to which their partnership units have been pledged.
The sale of any common or subordinated units could have an adverse impact on the price of the common units or on any trading market that may develop.
Unitholders have less power to elect or remove management of our general partner than holders of common stock in a corporation. It is unlikely that our common unitholders will have sufficient voting power to elect or remove our general partner without the consent of Martin Resource Management Corporation and its affiliates.
Unlike the holders of common stock in a corporation, unitholders have only limited voting rights on matters affecting our business and therefore limited ability to influence management's decisions regarding our business. Unitholders did not elect our general partner or its directors and will have no right to elect our general partner or its directors on an annual or other continuing basis. Holdings, the sole member of MMGP, elects the board of directors of our general partner.
If unitholders are dissatisfied with the performance of our general partner, they will have a limited ability to remove our general partner. Our general partner generally may not be removed except upon the vote of the holders of at least 66 2/3% of the outstanding units voting together as a single class. As of December 31, 2019, Martin Resource Management Corporation owned 15.7% of our total outstanding common limited partner units.
Unitholders' voting rights are further restricted by our partnership agreement provision prohibiting any units held by a person owning 20% or more of any class of units then outstanding, other than our general partner, its affiliates, their transferees and persons who acquired such units with the prior approval of our general partner's directors, from voting on any matter. In addition, our partnership agreement contains provisions limiting the ability of unitholders to call meetings or to acquire information about our operations, as well as other provisions limiting the unitholders' ability to influence the manner or direction of management.
As a result of these provisions, it will be more difficult for a third party to acquire our partnership without first negotiating the acquisition with our general partner. Consequently, it is unlikely the trading price of our common units will ever reflect a takeover premium.
Our general partner's discretion in determining the level of our cash reserves may adversely affect our ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Our partnership agreement requires our general partner to deduct from operating surplus cash reserves that it determines in its reasonable discretion to be necessary to fund our future operating expenditures. In addition, our partnership agreement permits our general partner to reduce available cash by establishing cash reserves for the proper conduct of our business, to comply with applicable law or agreements to which we are a party, or to provide funds for future distributions to partners. These cash reserves will affect the amount of cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Unitholders may not have limited liability if a court finds that we have not complied with applicable statutes or that unitholder action constitutes control of our business.
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 states. The holder of one of our common units could be held liable in some circumstances for our obligations to the same extent as a general partner if a court were to determine that:
we had been conducting business in any state without compliance with the applicable limited partnership statute; or
the right or the exercise of the right by our unitholders as a group to remove or replace our general partner, to approve some amendments to our partnership agreement, or to take other action under our partnership agreement constituted participation in the "control" of our business.
Our general partner generally has unlimited liability for our obligations, such as our debts and environmental liabilities, except for our contractual obligations that are expressly made without recourse to our general partner. In addition, under some circumstances, a unitholder may be liable to us for the amount of a distribution for a period of nine years from the date of the distribution.
Our partnership agreement contains provisions that reduce the remedies available to unitholders for actions that might otherwise constitute a breach of fiduciary duty by our general partner.
Our partnership agreement limits the liability and reduces the fiduciary duties of our general partner to the unitholders. Our partnership agreement also restricts the remedies available to unitholders for actions that would otherwise constitute breaches of our general partner's fiduciary duties. For example, our partnership agreement:
permits our general partner to make a number of decisions in its "sole discretion." This entitles our general partner to consider only the interests and factors that it desires, and it has no duty or obligation to give any consideration to any interest of, or factors affecting, us, our affiliates or any limited partner;
provides that our general partner is entitled to make other decisions in its "reasonable discretion," which may reduce the obligations to which our general partner would otherwise be held;
generally provides that affiliated transactions and resolutions of conflicts of interest not involving a required vote of unitholders must be "fair and reasonable" to us and that, in determining whether a transaction or resolution is "fair and reasonable," our general partner may consider the interests of all parties involved, including its own; and
provides that our general partner and its officers and directors will not be liable for monetary damages to us, our limited partners or assignees for errors of judgment or for any acts or omissions if our general partner and those other persons acted in good faith.
Unitholders are treated as having consented to the various actions contemplated in our partnership agreement and conflicts of interest that might otherwise be considered a breach of fiduciary duties under applicable state law.
We may issue additional common units without unitholder approval, which would dilute unitholder ownership interests.
Our general partner may also cause us to issue an unlimited number of additional common units or other equity securities of equal rank with the common units, without unitholder approval, in a number of circumstances such as:
the issuance of common units in additional public offerings or in connection with acquisitions that increase cash flow from operations on a pro forma, per unit basis;
the conversion of subordinated units into common units;
the conversion of units of equal rank with the common units into common units under some circumstances; or
the conversion of our general partner's general partner interest in us and its incentive distribution rights into common units as a result of the withdrawal of our general partner.
We may issue an unlimited number of limited partner interests of any type without the approval of our unitholders. Our partnership agreement does not give our unitholders the right to approve our issuance of equity securities ranking junior to the common units at any time.
The issuance 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 a per unit basis may decrease;
because a lower percentage of total outstanding units will be subordinated units, the risk that a shortfall in the payment of the minimum quarterly distribution will be borne by our common unitholders will increase;
the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding unit will diminish;
the market price of the common units may decline; and
the ratio of taxable income to distributions may increase.
The control of our general partner may be transferred to a third party and that party could replace our current management team, 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 the unitholders. Furthermore, there is no restriction in our partnership agreement on the ability of the owner of our general partner to transfer its ownership interest in our general partner to a third party. A new owner of our general partner could replace the directors and officers of our general partner with its own designees and control the decisions taken by our general partner.
Our general partner has a limited call right that may require 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% of the common units, our general partner will have the right, but not the obligation, which it may assign to any of its affiliates or to us, to acquire all, but not less than all, of the remaining common units held by unaffiliated persons at a price not less than the then-current market price. As a result, unitholders may be required to sell their common units at an undesirable time or price and may not receive any return on their investment. Unitholders may also incur a tax liability upon a sale of their units. No provision in our partnership agreement, or in any other agreement we have with our general partner or Martin Resource Management Corporation, prohibits our general partner or its affiliates from acquiring more than 80% of our common units. For additional information about this call right and unitholders' potential tax liability, please see "Risk Factors-Tax Risks-Tax gain or loss on the disposition of our common units could be different than expected."
Our common units have a limited trading volume compared to other publicly traded securities.
Our common units are quoted on the NASDAQ under the symbol "MMLP." However, daily trading volumes for our common units are, and may continue to be, relatively small compared to many other securities quoted on the NASDAQ. The price of our common units may, therefore, be volatile.
Failure to achieve and maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could have a material adverse effect on our unit price.
In order to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, we periodically document and test our internal control procedures. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires annual management assessments of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting addressing these assessments. During the course of our testing we may identify deficiencies, which we may not be able to address in time to meet the deadline imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act for compliance with the requirements of Section 404. In addition, if we fail to maintain the adequacy of our internal controls, as such standards are modified, supplemented or amended from time to time, we may not be able to ensure that we can conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal controls over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Failure to achieve and maintain an effective internal control environment could have a material adverse effect on the price of our common units.
Risks Relating to Our Relationship with Martin Resource Management Corporation
Cash reimbursements due to Martin Resource Management Corporation may be substantial and will reduce our cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Under our Omnibus Agreement with Martin Resource Management Corporation, Martin Resource Management Corporation provides us with corporate staff and support services on behalf of our general partner that are substantially identical in nature and quality to the services it conducted for our business prior to our formation. The Omnibus Agreement requires us to reimburse Martin Resource Management Corporation for the costs and expenses it incurs in rendering these services, including an overhead allocation to us of Martin Resource Management Corporation's indirect general and administrative expenses from its corporate allocation pool. These payments may be substantial. Payments to Martin Resource Management Corporation will reduce the amount of available cash for distribution to our unitholders.
Martin Resource Management Corporation has conflicts of interest and limited fiduciary responsibilities, which may permit it to favor its own interests to the detriment of our unitholders.
As of December 31, 2019, Martin Resource Management Corporation owned 15.7% of our total outstanding common limited partner units and a 51% voting interest in Holdings, the sole member of MMGP. MMGP owns a 2% general partnership interest in us and all of our incentive distribution rights. Conflicts of interest may arise between Martin Resource Management Corporation and our general partner, on the one hand, and our unitholders, on the other hand. As a result of these conflicts, our general partner may favor its own interests and the interests of Martin Resource Management Corporation over the interests of our unitholders. Potential conflicts of interest between us, Martin Resource Management Corporation and our general partner could occur in many of our day-to-day operations including, among others, the following situations:
Officers of Martin Resource Management Corporation who provide services to us also devote significant time to the businesses of Martin Resource Management Corporation and are compensated by Martin Resource Management Corporation for that time;
Neither our partnership agreement nor any other agreement requires Martin Resource Management Corporation to pursue a business strategy that favors us or utilizes our assets or services. Martin Resource Management Corporation's directors and officers have a fiduciary duty to make these decisions in the best interests of the shareholders of Martin Resource Management Corporation without regard to the best interests of the unitholders;
Martin Resource Management Corporation may engage in limited competition with us;
Our general partner is allowed to take into account the interests of parties other than us, such as Martin Resource Management Corporation, in resolving conflicts of interest, which has the effect of reducing its fiduciary duty to our unitholders;
Under our partnership agreement, our general partner may limit its liability and reduce its fiduciary duties, while also restricting the remedies available to our unitholders for actions that, without the limitations and reductions, might constitute breaches of fiduciary duty. As a result of purchasing units, our unitholders will be treated as having consented to some actions and conflicts of interest that, without such consent, might otherwise constitute a breach of fiduciary or other duties under applicable state law;
Our general partner determines which costs incurred by Martin Resource Management Corporation are reimbursable by us;
Our partnership agreement does not restrict our general partner from causing us to pay it or its affiliates for any services rendered on terms that are fair and reasonable to us or from entering into additional contractual arrangements with any of these entities on our behalf;
Our general partner controls the enforcement of obligations owed to us by Martin Resource Management Corporation;
Our general partner decides whether to retain separate counsel, accountants or others to perform services for us;
The audit committee of our general partner retains our independent auditors;
In some instances, our general partner may cause us to borrow funds to permit us to pay cash distributions, even if the purpose or effect of the borrowing is to make incentive distributions; and
Our general partner has broad discretion to establish financial reserves for the proper conduct of our business. These reserves also will affect the amount of cash available for distribution.
Martin Resource Management Corporation and its affiliates may engage in limited competition with us.
Martin Resource Management Corporation and its affiliates may engage in limited competition with us. For a discussion of the non-competition provisions of the Omnibus Agreement, please see "Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence." If Martin Resource Management Corporation does engage in competition with us, we may lose customers or business opportunities, which could have an adverse impact on our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholder allocations.
If Martin Resource Management Corporation were ever to file for bankruptcy or otherwise default on its obligations under its credit facility, amounts we owe under our credit facility may become immediately due and payable and our results of operations could be adversely affected.
If Martin Resource Management Corporation were ever to commence or consent to the commencement of a bankruptcy proceeding or otherwise default on its obligations under its credit facility, its lenders could foreclose on its pledge of the interests in our general partner and take control of our general partner. If Martin Resources Management no longer controls our general partner, the lenders under our credit facility may declare all amounts outstanding thereunder immediately due and payable. In addition, either a judgment against Martin Resource Management Corporation or a bankruptcy filing by or against Martin Resource Management Corporation could independently result in an event of default under our credit facility if it could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on us. If our lenders do declare us in default and accelerate repayment, we may be required to refinance our debt on unfavorable terms, which could negatively impact our results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders. A bankruptcy filing by or against Martin Resource Management Corporation could also result in the termination or material breach of some or all of the various commercial contracts between us and Martin Resource Management Corporation, which could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, cash flow and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") could treat us as a corporation for tax purposes, which would substantially reduce the cash available for distribution to unitholders.
The anticipated after-tax economic benefit of an investment in us depends largely on our classification as a partnership for federal income tax purposes. We have not requested a ruling from the IRS on this matter.
Despite the fact that we are organized as a limited partnership under Delaware law, it is possible in certain circumstances for a partnership such as ours to be treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes. In order for us to be classified as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes, more than 90% of our gross income each year must be "qualifying income" under Section 7704 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code"). "Qualifying income" includes income and gains derived from the exploration, development, mining or production, processing, refining, transportation, or marketing of minerals or natural resources, including crude oil, natural gas and products thereof. Other types of qualifying income include interest (other than from a financial business), dividends, gains from the sale of real property and gains from the sale or other disposition of capital assets held for the production of income that otherwise constitutes qualifying income.
Although we intend to meet this gross income requirement, we may not find it possible, regardless of our efforts, to meet this gross income requirement or may inadvertently fail to meet this gross income requirement. If we do not meet this gross income requirement for any taxable year and the IRS does not determine that such failure was inadvertent, we would be treated as a corporation for such taxable year and each taxable year thereafter.
If we were treated as a corporation for federal income tax purposes, we would owe federal income tax on our income at the corporate tax rate, which is currently a maximum of 21%, and would likely owe state income tax at varying rates. Distributions would generally be taxed again to unitholders as corporate distributions and no income, gains, losses, or deductions would flow through to unitholders. Because a tax would be imposed upon us as an entity, cash available for distribution to unitholders would be reduced. Treatment of us as a corporation would result in a reduction in the anticipated cash flow and after-tax return to unitholders and therefore would likely result in a reduction in the value of the common units.
Our partnership agreement provides that if a law is enacted or existing law is modified or interpreted in a manner that subjects us to taxation as a corporation or otherwise subjects us to entity-level taxation for federal, state or local income tax purposes, then the minimum quarterly distribution amount and the target distribution amount will be adjusted to reflect the impact of that law on us.
The tax treatment of publicly traded partnerships or an investment in our units could be subject to potential legislative, judicial or administrative changes and differing interpretations, possibly on a retroactive basis.
The present U.S. federal income tax treatment of publicly traded partnerships, including us, or an investment in our common units, may be modified by administrative, legislative or judicial interpretation at any time.
At the federal level, members of Congress and the President of the United States have periodically considered substantive changes to the existing U.S. tax laws that would have affected certain publicly traded partnerships, including the elimination of partnership tax treatment for publicly traded partnerships. At the state level, because of widespread state budget deficits and other reasons, several states are evaluating ways to subject partnerships to entity-level taxation through the imposition of state income, franchise and other forms of taxation. For example, we are required to pay a Texas margin tax at a maximum effective rate of 0.525% of our gross income apportioned to Texas in the prior year. Imposition of any such tax on us by any other state will reduce the cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Any modification to the tax laws and interpretations thereof may or may not be applied retroactively and could make it more difficult or impossible to meet the exception pursuant to which we are treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes that is not taxable as a corporation, affect or cause us to change our business activities, affect the tax considerations of an investment in us, change the character or treatment of portions of our income and adversely affect an investment in our common units. We are unable to predict whether any of these changes or other proposals will ultimately be enacted. Any such changes could negatively impact the value of an investment in our common units.
On January 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued final regulations (the "Final Regulations") regarding qualifying income under Section 7704(d)(1)(E) of the Code which relates to the qualifying income exception upon which we rely for partnership tax treatment. The Final Regulations apply to income earned in a taxable year beginning on or after January 19, 2017. The Final Regulations include "reserved" paragraphs for fertilizer and hedging, which the U.S. Department of the Treasury plans to address in future proposed and final Treasury regulations ("Treasury regulations"). We are unable to predict how such future regulations may treat fertilizer or hedging activities, but such regulations could impact our ability to treat certain activities as generating qualifying income. The Final Regulations provide for a ten year transition period during which certain taxpayers that either obtained a favorable private letter ruling or treated income under a reasonable interpretation of the statute or prior proposed regulations as qualifying income may continue to treat such income as qualifying income. We have obtained favorable private letter rulings from the IRS in the past as to what constitutes "qualifying income" within the meaning of Section 7704(d)(1)(E) of the Code and we expect to rely upon these private letter rulings for purposes of the ten year transition rule contained in the Final Regulations. With respect to some of these private letter rulings, the income that we derived from certain affected activities will be treated as qualifying income only until the end of the ten year transition period. Thus, at this time and through the transition period, we believe that the Final Regulations will not significantly impact the amount of our gross income that we are able to treat as qualifying income.
A successful IRS contest of the federal income tax positions we take could adversely affect the market for our common units and the costs of any contest will be borne by our unitholders, debt security holders and our general partner.
We have not requested a ruling from the IRS with respect to our treatment as a partnership for federal income tax purposes or any other matter affecting us. The IRS may adopt positions that differ from the positions we take and our counsel's conclusions. It may be necessary to resort to administrative or court proceedings to sustain some or all of our counsel's conclusions or the positions we take. A court may not agree with some or all our counsel's conclusions or the positions we take. Any contest with the IRS may materially and adversely impact the market for our common units and the prices at which they trade. In addition, the costs of any contest with the IRS will be borne directly or indirectly by all of our unitholders, debt security holders and our general partner.
If the IRS makes audit adjustments to our income tax returns for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017, it may assess and collect any taxes (including any applicable penalties and interest) resulting from such audit adjustment directly from us, in which case our cash available for distribution to our unitholders might be substantially reduced.
Pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, if the IRS makes audit adjustments to our income tax returns, it may assess and collect any taxes (including any applicable penalties and interest) resulting from such audit adjustment directly from us. Similarly, for such taxable years, if the IRS makes audit adjustments to income tax returns filed by an entity in which we are a member or partner, the IRS may assess and collect any taxes (including penalties and interest) resulting from such audit adjustment directly from such entity. Generally, we expect to elect to have our unitholders take such audit adjustment into account in accordance with their interests in us during the tax year under audit, but there can be no assurance that such election will be effective in all circumstances. If we are unable to have our unitholders take such audit adjustment into account in accordance with their interests in us during the tax year under audit, our current unitholders may bear some or all of the tax liability resulting from such audit adjustment, even if such unitholders did not own units in us during the tax year under audit. If, as a result of any such audit adjustment, we are required to make payments of taxes, penalties and interest as a result of audit adjustments cash available for distribution to our unitholders may be substantially reduced. These rules are not applicable to us for tax years beginning on or prior to December 31, 2017.
Additionally, pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, we are no longer required to designate a "tax matters partner." Instead, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, we are required to designate a partner, or other person, with a substantial presence in the United States as the partnership representative ("Partnership Representative"). The Partnership Representative will have the sole authority to act on our behalf for purposes of, among other things, U.S. federal income tax audits and judicial review of administrative adjustments by the IRS. We have designated our general partner as our Partnership Representative. Further, any actions taken by us or by the Partnership Representative on our behalf with respect to, among other things, federal income tax audits and judicial review of administrative adjustments by the IRS, will be binding on us and all of our unitholders.
Unitholders may be required to pay taxes on income from us, including their share of income from the cancellation of debt, even if they do not receive any cash distributions from us.
Unitholders may be required to pay federal income taxes and, in some cases, state, local and foreign income taxes on their share of our taxable income even if they receive no cash distributions from us. Unitholders may not receive cash distributions from us equal to their share of our taxable income or even the tax liability that results from the taxation of their share of our taxable income.
We may engage in transactions to delever the partnership and manage our liquidity that may result in income to our unitholders without a corresponding cash distribution. For example, if we sell assets and use the proceeds to repay existing debt or fund capital expenditures, you may be allocated taxable income and gain resulting from the sale without receiving a cash distribution. Further, taking advantage of opportunities to reduce our existing debt, such as debt exchanges, debt repurchases, or modifications of our existing debt could result in "cancellation of indebtedness income" (also referred to as "COD income") being allocated to our unitholders as taxable income. Unitholders may be allocated COD income, and income tax liabilities arising therefrom may exceed cash distributions or the value of the units. The ultimate effect of any such allocations will depend on the unitholder's individual tax position with respect to its units. Unitholders are encouraged to consult their tax advisor with respect to the consequences to them of COD income.
Tax gain or loss on the disposition of our common units could be different than expected.
If our unitholders sell their common units, they will recognize gain or loss equal to the difference between the amount realized and their tax basis in those common units. Prior distributions in excess of the total net taxable income unitholders were allocated for a common unit, which decreased unitholder tax basis in that common unit, will, in effect, become taxable income to our unitholders if the common unit is sold at a price greater than their tax basis in that common unit, even if the price they receive is less than their original cost. A substantial portion of the amount realized, whether or not representing gain, may be ordinary income to our unitholders. Should the IRS successfully contest some positions we take, our unitholders could recognize more gain on the sale of units than would be the case under those positions without the benefit of decreased income in prior years. In addition, if our unitholders sell their units, they may incur a tax liability in excess of the amount of cash they receive from the sale.
Unitholders may be subject to limitations on their ability to deduct interest expenses incurred by us.
In general, the Partnership is entitled to a deduction for interest paid or accrued on indebtedness properly allocable to our trade or business during its taxable year. However, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, the deduction for "business interest" is limited to the sum of the Partnership’s business interest income and 30% of its "adjusted taxable income." For the purposes of this limitation, the Partnership’s adjusted taxable income is computed without regard to any business interest expense or business interest income, and in the case of taxable years beginning before January 1, 2022, any deduction allowable for depreciation, amortization, or depletion to the extent such depreciation, amortization, or depletion is not capitalized into cost of goods sold with respect to inventory. If the Partnership’s "business interest" is subject to limitation under these rules, unitholders will be limited in their ability to deduct their share of any interest expense that has been allocated to them. As a result, unitholders may be subject to limitation on their ability to deduct interest expenses incurred by the Partnership.
Tax-exempt entities and non-U.S. persons face unique tax issues from owning common units that may result in adverse tax consequences to them.
Investment in common units by tax-exempt entities, such as employee benefit plans, individual retirement accounts (known as IRAs), Keogh plans and other retirement plans, regulated investment companies, real estate investment trusts, mutual funds and non-U.S. persons raises issues unique to them. For example, virtually all of our income allocated to organizations exempt from federal income tax, including IRAs and other retirement plans, will be unrelated business income and will be taxable to them. Distributions to non-U.S. persons will be reduced by withholding taxes at the highest applicable effective tax rate, and non-U.S persons will be required to file U.S. federal income tax returns and pay tax on their share of our taxable income. In addition, a withholding tax may apply on the amount realized on the disposition of a partnership interest by a foreign person if any gain on the transfer of such interest would be treated as giving rise to effectively connected income. Such withholding tax obligation is currently suspended in the case of a disposition of certain publicly traded partnership interests, but such suspension would end if proposed Treasury regulations become final. Tax-exempt entities, non-U.S. persons and other unique investors should consult their tax advisor regarding their investment in our common units.
We treat a purchaser of our common units as having the same tax benefits without regard to the seller's identity. The IRS may challenge this treatment, which could adversely affect the value of the common units.
Because we cannot match transferors and transferees of common units and because of other reasons, we have adopted depreciation positions that may not conform to all aspects of the Treasury regulations. Any position we take that is inconsistent with applicable Treasury regulations may have to be disclosed on our federal income tax return. This disclosure increases the likelihood that the IRS will challenge our positions and propose adjustments to some or all of our unitholders. A successful IRS challenge to those positions could adversely affect the amount of tax benefits available to our unitholders. It also could affect the timing of these tax benefits or the amount of gain from the sale of common units and could have a negative impact on the value of our common units or result in audit adjustments to our unitholders' tax returns.
Unitholders may be subject to state, local and foreign taxes and return filing requirements as a result of investing in our common units.
In addition to federal income taxes, unitholders may be subject to other taxes, such as state, local and foreign income taxes, unincorporated business taxes and estate, inheritance, or intangible taxes that are imposed by the various jurisdictions in which we do business or own property. Unitholders may be required to file state, local and foreign income tax returns and pay state and local income taxes in some or all of the various jurisdictions in which we do business or own property and may be subject to penalties for failure to comply with those requirements. We own property and/or conduct business in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. We may do business or own property in other states or foreign countries in the future. It is the unitholder's responsibility to file all federal, state, local and foreign tax returns. Our counsel has not rendered an opinion on the state, local or foreign tax consequences of an investment in our common units.
There are limits on the deductibility of our losses that may adversely affect our unitholders.
There are a number of limitations that may prevent unitholders from using their allocable share of our losses as a deduction against unrelated income. In cases when our unitholders are subject to the passive loss rules (generally, individuals and closely-held corporations), any losses generated by us will only be available to offset our future income and cannot be used to offset income from other activities, including other passive activities or investments. Unused losses may be deducted when the unitholder disposes of its entire investment in us in a fully taxable transaction with an unrelated party. A unitholder's share of our net passive income may be offset by unused losses from us carried over from prior years but not by losses from other passive activities, including losses from other publicly traded partnerships. Other limitations that may further restrict the deductibility of our losses by a unitholder include the at-risk rules, the excess loss limitation rules for non-corporate unitholders that applies until January 1, 2026, and the prohibition against loss allocations in excess of the unitholder's tax basis in its units.
We prorate our items of income, gain, loss and deduction between transferors and transferees of our units each month based upon the ownership of our units on the first day of each month, instead of on the basis of the date a particular unit is transferred. The IRS may challenge this treatment, which could change the allocation of items of income, gain, loss and deduction among our unitholders.
We prorate our items of income, gain, loss and deduction between transferors and transferees of our units each month based upon the ownership of our units on the first day of each month, instead of on the basis of the date a particular unit is
transferred. Treasury regulations permit publicly traded partnerships to use a monthly simplifying convention that is similar to ours, but they do not specifically authorize all aspects of the proration method we have adopted. Therefore, the use of our proration method may not be permitted under existing Treasury regulations, and, accordingly, our counsel is unable to opine as to the validity of such method. If the IRS were to challenge our proration method, we may be required to change the allocation of items of income, gain, loss and deduction among our unitholders.
A unitholder whose units are loaned to a "short seller" to cover a short sale of units may be considered as having disposed of those units. If so, he would no longer be treated for tax purposes as a partner with respect to those units during the period of the loan and may recognize gain or loss from the disposition.
Because a unitholder whose units are loaned to a "short seller" to cover a short sale of units may be considered as having disposed of the loaned units, he may no longer be treated for tax purposes as a partner with respect to those units during the period of the loan to the short seller and the unitholder may recognize gain or loss from such disposition. Moreover, during the period of the loan to the short seller any of our income, gain, loss or deduction with respect to those units may not be reportable by the unitholder and any cash distributions received by the unitholder as to those units could be fully taxable as ordinary income. Our counsel has not rendered an opinion regarding the treatment of a unitholder where common units are loaned to a short seller to cover a short sale of common units; therefore, unitholders desiring to assure their status as partners and avoid the risk of gain recognition from a loan to a short seller are urged to modify any applicable brokerage account agreements to prohibit their brokers from borrowing their units.
Unresolved Staff Comments
A description of our properties is contained in "Item 1. Business" and is incorporated herein by reference.
We believe we have satisfactory title to our assets. Some of the easements, rights-of-way, permits, licenses or similar documents relating to the use of the properties that have been transferred to us in connection with our initial public offering and the assets we acquired in our acquisitions, required the consent of third parties, which in some cases is a governmental entity. We believe we have obtained sufficient third-party consents, permits and authorizations for the transfer of assets necessary for us to operate our business in all material respects. With respect to any third-party consents, permits or authorizations that have not been obtained, we believe the failure to obtain these consents, permits or authorizations will not have a material adverse effect on the operation of our business. Title to our property may be subject to encumbrances, including liens in favor of our secured lender. We believe none of these encumbrances materially detract from the value of our properties or our interest in these properties or materially interfere with their use in the operation of our business.
From time to time, we are subject to certain legal proceedings, claims and disputes that arise in the ordinary course of our business. Although we cannot predict the outcomes of these legal proceedings, we do not believe these actions, in the aggregate, will have a material adverse impact on our financial position, results of operations or liquidity. A description of our legal proceedings is included in "Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, Note 22. Commitments and Contingencies", and is incorporated herein by reference.
Mine Safety Disclosures
Market for Our Common Equity, Related Unitholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market Information and Holders
Our common units are traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol "MMLP." As of February 14, 2020, there were approximately 254 holders of record and approximately 16,664 beneficial owners of our common units.
Cash Distribution Policy
Within 45 days after the end of each quarter, we distribute all of our available cash, as defined in our partnership agreement, to unitholders of record on the applicable record date. Our general partner has broad discretion to establish cash reserves that it determines are necessary or appropriate to properly conduct our business. These can include cash reserves for future capital and maintenance expenditures, reserves to stabilize distributions of cash to the unitholders and our general partner, reserves to reduce debt, or, as necessary, reserves to comply with the terms of any of our agreements or obligations. Our distributions are effectively made 98% to unitholders and 2% to our general partner, subject to the payment of incentive distributions to our general partner if certain target cash distribution levels to common unitholders are achieved. Distributions to our general partner increase to 15%, 25% and 50% based on incremental distribution thresholds as set forth in our partnership agreement.
Our ability to distribute available cash is contractually restricted by the terms of our credit facility. Our credit facility contains covenants requiring us to maintain certain financial ratios. We are prohibited from making any distributions to unitholders if the distribution would cause a default or an event of default, or a default or an event of default exists, under our credit facility. Please read "Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources — Description of Our Credit Facility."
Quarterly Distribution. On January 28, 2020, we declared a quarterly cash distribution of $0.0625 per common unit for the fourth quarter of 2019, or $0.25 per common unit on an annualized basis, which was paid on February 14, 2020 to unitholders of record as of February 7, 2020.
Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth selected financial data and other operating data of the Partnership for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 and is derived from the audited consolidated financial statements of the Partnership.
The following selected financial data are qualified by reference to and should be read in conjunction with the Partnership's Consolidated Financial Statements and Notes thereto and "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" included elsewhere in this document.
(Dollars in thousands, except per unit amounts)
Income (loss) from continuing operations
Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax
Net income (loss)
Net income (loss) attributable to limited partners
Net income (loss) per limited partner unit – continuing operations
Net income (loss) per limited partner unit – discontinued operations