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
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ______ to ______
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Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐
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Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
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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 has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.
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included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based
compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to § 240.10D-1(b). ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes
Aggregate market value of Common Stock held by nonaffiliates as of June 30, 2022: $
As of March 3, 2023, the registrant had
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the 2023 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after December 31, 2022, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosures
Item 9C. Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
The terms and abbreviations defined in this section are used throughout this Annual Report.
AMI. Area of mutual interest
ASC. Accounting Standards Codification
BGEPA. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
BLM. Bureau of Land Management.
bwpd. Barrels of water per day.
CAA. The United States Clean Air Act.
CERCLA. The federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as the “Superfund law.”
Code. The Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index.
COVID-19. The infectious novel coronavirus disease caused by the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” (SARS-CoV-2) virus, including variants such as Delta, Omicron and others.
CWA. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act.
Delaware Basin. A geologic depositional and structural basin in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico which is a part of the Permian Basin, (see below).
DGCL. Delaware General Corporation Law.
E&P. Exploration and production.
EPA. The United States Environmental Protection Agency.
ESA. The Endangered Species Act.
ESG. Environmental, social and governance.
GAAP. Generally accepted accounting principles used in the United States.
GHG. Greenhouse Gas.
IPO. The initial public offering of equity of Aris Water Solutions, Inc. which was completed on October 26, 2021.
IRS. The Internal Revenue Service.
kbwpd. One thousand barrels of water per day.
KPI. Key performance indicator.
Legacy Owners. Owners of Solaris LLC units at the time of the IPO.
LIBOR. London Inter-bank Offered Rate.
Midland Basin. A geologic depositional and structural basin in West Texas which is a part of the Permian Basin (see below).
MBTA. The federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
mmbw. One million barrels of water.
MVC. Minimum volume commitment.
NAAQS. The National Ambient Air Quality Standard.
NGL. Natural gas liquids.
NMOCD. The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division.
NORM. Naturally occurring radioactive materials.
NWP. Nationwide permit.
NYSE. New York Stock Exchange.
OPEC. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
OPEC+. OPEC plus the countries of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
OSHA. The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
PSU. Performance-based restricted stock unit.
Permian Basin. A large sedimentary basin located in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico.
RCRA. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
SDWA. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
SEC. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
SRA. Seismic Response Area.
TRA. Tax Receivable Agreement.
TRC. The Texas Railroad Commission.
TSCA. The Toxic Substances Control Act.
UIC. Underground Injection Control.
USFWS. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
WTI. West Texas Intermediate, a crude oil pricing index reference.
Introductory Note Regarding Definitions
The registrant, Aris Water Solutions, Inc. (“Aris Inc.”), was incorporated on May 26, 2021 as a Delaware corporation. Aris Inc. was formed to serve as the issuer in an initial public offering (“IPO”) of equity, which was completed on October 26, 2021. Concurrent with the completion of the IPO, Aris Inc. became the new parent holding company of Solaris Midstream Holdings, LLC (“Solaris LLC”), a Delaware limited liability company. Except as otherwise indicated or required by the context, all references to “Aris Inc.,” “Solaris LLC,” the “Company,” “we,” “our,” and “us” or similar terms refer to (i) Solaris LLC and its consolidated subsidiaries before the completion of the Corporate Reorganization, defined below, in connection with the IPO and (ii) Aris Inc. and its consolidated subsidiaries as of the completion of the Corporate Reorganization and thereafter.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This Annual Report on Form 10‑K (the “Annual Report”) 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”). All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this Annual Report, including, without limitation, statements regarding our future results of operations or financial condition, business strategy and plans and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as “anticipate,” “guidance,” “preliminary,” “project,” “estimate,” “outlook,” “expect,” “continue,” “will,” “intend,” “plan,” “targets,” “believe,” “forecast,” “future,” “potential,” “should,” “may,” “possible,” “could” and variations of such words or similar expressions.
You should not rely on forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. We have based the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report primarily on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends that we believe may affect our business, financial condition and operating results. The outcome of the events described in these forward-looking statements is subject to
risks, uncertainties and other factors described in the section titled “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report, including, but not limited to, the following:
|●||the impact of the current Russia-Ukraine conflict on the global economy, including its impacts on financial markets and the energy industry;|
|●||the impacts of cost inflation on our operating margins;|
|●||the impact of current and future laws, rulings and federal and state governmental regulations, including those related to hydraulic fracturing, accessing water, handling of produced water, carbon pricing, taxation of emissions, seismic activity, drilling and right-of-way access on federal lands and various other matters;|
|●||the level of capital spending and development by oil and gas companies, including potential reductions in capital expenditures by oil and gas producers in response to commodity price volatility and/or reduced demand;|
|●||our reliance on a limited number of customers and a particular region for substantially all of our revenues;|
|●||our ability to successfully implement our business plan;|
|●||regional impacts to our business, including our infrastructure assets within the Delaware Basin and Midland Basin formations of the Permian Basin;|
|●||our access to capital to fund expansions, acquisitions and our working capital needs and our ability to obtain debt or equity financing on satisfactory terms;|
|●||our ability to renew or replace expiring contracts on acceptable terms;|
|●||our ability to comply with covenants contained in our debt instruments;|
|●||changes in general economic conditions and commodity prices;|
|●||our customers’ ability to complete and produce new wells;|
|●||risks related to acquisitions and organic growth projects, including our ability to realize their expected benefits;|
|●||capacity constraints on regional oil, natural gas and water gathering, processing and pipeline systems that result in a slowdown or delay in drilling and completion activity, and thus a slowdown or delay in the demand for our services;|
|●||the degree to which consolidation among our customers may affect spending on U.S. drilling and completions in the near-term;|
|●||the continued development of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, which caused reduced demand for oil and natural gas, economic slowdowns, governmental actions, stay-at-home orders, and interruptions to our operations or our exploration and production (“E&P”) customers’ operations;|
|●||the potential deterioration of our customers’ financial condition, including defaults resulting from actual or potential insolvencies|
|●||our ability to retain key management and employees and to hire and retain skilled labor;|
|●||our health, safety and environmental performance;|
|●||the impact of competition on our operations;|
|●||the degree to which our E&P customers may elect to operate their water-management services in-house rather than outsource these services to companies like us;|
|●||delays or restrictions in obtaining, utilizing or maintaining permits and/or rights-of-way by us or our customers;|
|●||constraints in supply or availability of equipment used in our business;|
|●||advances in technologies or practices that reduce the amount of water used or produced in the oil and gas production process, thereby reducing demand for our services;|
|●||changes in global political or economic conditions, both generally, and in the specific markets we serve;|
|●||physical, electronic and cybersecurity breaches;|
|●||accidents, weather, seasonality or other events affecting our business;|
|●||changes in tax laws, regulations or policies;|
|●||the effects of litigation; and|
|●||plans, objectives, expectations and intentions contained in this report that are not historical.|
Many of the factors that will determine our future results are beyond the ability of management to control or predict. Should one or more of the risks or uncertainties described in this Annual Report occur, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, our actual results and plans could differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements, expressed or implied, included in this Annual Report are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement.
The forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report relate only to events as of the date on which the statements are made. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements made in this Annual Report to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this Annual Report or to reflect new information or the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements do not reflect the potential impact of any future acquisitions, mergers, dispositions, joint ventures or investments.
For the definitions of certain terms and abbreviations used in this Annual Report, see Glossary of Terms.
Summary of Our Risk Factors
An investment in our Class A common stock involves substantial risks and uncertainties that may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and cash flows. Some of the more significant challenges and risks relating to an investment in our Company are summarized below. The following is only a summary of the principal risks that may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. The following should be read in conjunction with the more
complete discussion of the risk factors we face, which are set forth in Part I, Item 1A ─ Risk Factors in this Annual Report.
Risks Related to Our Business
|●||Our business depends on capital spending by the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin, which could be negatively impacted by industry and market conditions over which we have no control.|
|●||If oil prices or natural gas prices remain volatile or were to decline, the demand for our services could be adversely affected.|
|●||We may be unable to implement price increases or maintain profit margins on our services.|
|●||Cost and wage inflation may have a negative impact on our operating margin.|
|●||Supply chain disruptions could affect our ability to execute our growth strategies.|
|●||We operate in a highly competitive industry, which could negatively affect our ability to expand our operations, including limiting our access to rights-of-way.|
|●||Growing or adapting our business by constructing new transportation systems and facilities subjects us to construction risks.|
|●||We may face opposition to the operation of our water pipelines and facilities from various groups.|
|●||Efforts among those in the investment community that are opposed to the oil and natural gas industry may adversely affect our business.|
|●||We may be unable to attract and retain key members of management, qualified members of our Board of Directors (“the Board”) and other key personnel.|
|●||Inherent risks associated with our operations may not be fully covered under our insurance policies.|
|●||The loss of one or more of our customers could adversely affect our business.|
|●||Because a significant portion of our revenues is derived from ConocoPhillips, any development that materially and adversely affects ConocoPhillips’ operations, financial condition or market reputation could have a material adverse impact on us.|
|●||Our lack of diversification increases the risk of an investment in us and we are vulnerable to risks associated with operating primarily in one geographic area.|
|●||We may not be able to keep pace with technological developments in our industry.|
|●||We may be required to take write-downs of the carrying values of certain assets and goodwill.|
|●||Restrictive covenants under our debt instruments may limit our financial flexibility.|
Legal and Regulatory Risks
|●||Restrictions on the ability to procure water could decrease the demand for our services.|
|●||Legislation or regulatory initiatives intended to address seismic activity could restrict our ability to handle produced water.|
|●||We may face increased obligations relating to the closing of our water handling facilities.|
|●||Fuel conservation measures could reduce demand for our services.|
|●||We may be subject to claims for personal injury and property damage.|
|●||Climate change legislation, laws, and regulations could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, as well as our reputation.|
|●||A portion of our customers’ oil and gas leases are granted by the federal government, which may suspend or terminate such leases.|
|●||Laws and regulations related to hydraulic fracturing could result in increased costs and additional operating restrictions that may reduce demand for our services.|
|●||Delays or restrictions in obtaining or renewing permits by us for our operations or by our customers for their operations could impair our business.|
Risks Related to Our Class A Common Stock
|●||Our sole material asset is our equity interest in Solaris LLC and we are accordingly dependent upon distributions from Solaris LLC to pay taxes and other expenses.|
|●||For as long as we are an emerging growth company, we will not be required to comply with certain reporting requirements that apply to other public companies.|
|●||Certain of our directors have significant duties with, and spend significant time serving, entities that may compete with us in seeking acquisitions and business opportunities and, accordingly, may have conflicts of interest in allocating time or pursuing business opportunities.|
|●||Our governing organizational documents, as well as Delaware law, contain provisions that could discourage acquisition bids or merger proposals.|
|●||We cannot assure that we will continue to pay any dividends on our Class A common stock, and our indebtedness could limit our ability to pay dividends on our Class A common stock.|
|●||Payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, we realize in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement.|
|●||We may issue preferred stock whose terms could adversely affect the voting power or value of our Class A common stock.|
|●||The market price per share of our Class A common stock is more volatile as there is a less active trading market for the shares.|
You should carefully read and consider the information set forth under “Item 1A. Risk Factors.”
Items 1. and 2. Business and Properties
We are a leading, growth-oriented environmental infrastructure and solutions company that directly helps our customers reduce their water and carbon footprints. We deliver full-cycle water handling and recycling solutions that increase the sustainability of energy company operations. Our integrated pipelines and related infrastructure create long-term value by delivering high-capacity, comprehensive produced water management, recycling and supply solutions to operators in the core areas of the Permian Basin.
We provide critical environmental solutions to many of the most active and well-capitalized companies operating in the Permian Basin, including the following companies and/or their affiliates: ConocoPhillips, Mewbourne Oil Company, Inc. and Chevron Corporation. Operators are increasingly focused on minimizing their environmental impact as a measure of success with an emphasis on rapidly increasing the use of recycled produced water in their operations. Our expansive infrastructure, advanced logistics and water treatment methods allow us to reliably gather our customers’ produced water and recycle it for use in their operations. We believe our solutions make a significant contribution to the ability of our customers to achieve their sustainability-related objectives. Since inception, we have been committed to responsibly developing, operating and deploying technology to safely reduce our customers’ environmental footprint.
Our Commitment to Environmental, Social and Governance Leadership
Our business strategy and operations align with the increasing focus of local communities, regulators and stakeholders on ensuring the safety of oil and gas operations and minimizing environmental and local community impacts. We have a leading track record in social and environmental stewardship in the areas in which we operate by setting and meeting ambitious sustainability targets. This leadership highlights the strong technical, operational and financial capabilities of our management team that has decades of experience operating and leading companies in the environmental, infrastructure, water treatment and energy industries. As further demonstration of our environmental leadership, we adopted a Sustainability-Linked Bond Framework in March 2021, which publishes our goals with respect to our water recycling operations. In accordance with this framework, we issued the first sustainability-linked notes (“Senior Sustainability-Linked Notes" or “Notes”) in the produced water infrastructure industry. See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations ─ Debt Agreements ─ Senior Sustainability-Linked Notes.
Our business provides reliable and sustainable water solutions which address the operational and environmental demands of the energy industry and actively reduce emissions. Through our significant investment in permanent pipeline infrastructure to safely gather and transport produced water, we minimize the need for produced water trucking, a major contributor of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emission, traffic congestion and road safety concerns in the communities in which we operate. Additionally, we are leaders in the evaluation, piloting and advancement of water treatment technologies, including the development of solutions for the use of treated produced water outside of the oil and gas industry. For example, we are piloting and developing proprietary processes for treating produced water for environmental, agricultural and industrial water demand, including evaluating the use of treated produced water as process water for recharging aquifer systems, carbon sequestration and direct air capture.
Our strong company culture includes commitments to our employees and our shareholders, which we believe will benefit all of our constituents. We have created a work environment that fosters a diverse and inclusive company culture with over 50% minority and/or female representation in our workforce as of December 31, 2022. Additionally, we prioritize safety in our operations through rigorous training, structured protocols and ongoing automation of our operations.
We believe alignment of our management and our Board with our shareholders, including the establishment of a diverse and independent Board, is conducive to creating long-term value. Additionally, through our management’s substantial ownership and our compensation and incentive programs, our management team remains highly motivated to continue creating shareholder value.
Our Full-Cycle Water Handling and Recycling Solutions
Produced water naturally exists in underground formations and is brought to the surface during crude oil and natural gas production. Produced water is produced throughout the entire life of the well and is of particular importance to operators in the Permian Basin given the high produced water-to-oil ratio prevalent across the basin. Many of our customers have stated goals of managing produced water volumes in an environmentally-responsible and cost-effective manner, highlighting the importance of our water management expertise and integrated and extensive asset base. We believe they will increasingly outsource water management to integrated produced water infrastructure and recycling companies like us to manage their water-related needs in a cost and capital effective manner, creating new business development and acquisition opportunities for us.
Recycling produced water displaces the use of scarce groundwater which would otherwise be used for oil and gas operations. Treatment of produced water is required prior to reuse, which involves the removal of residual hydrocarbons, reduction of free iron and other solids along with the removal of bacteria to customer specifications. We have made a significant investment in our vast network of produced water gathering pipelines and recycling facilities, which has positioned us as a leading independent third-party provider of recycled produced water gathered on a proprietary network in the Permian Basin. The scale of our system allows us to gather significant produced water volumes across a wide geographic area from multiple customers. The increasing volumes of produced water aggregated on our systems provide differentiated support for our recycling operations and ensures that sufficient volumes of recycled water are available to our customers when and where needed. Our expansive asset base allows us to deliver cost-effective, high-capacity and reliable produced water recycling solutions to operators, encouraging and enabling their rapid adoption of the use of recycled produced water while minimizing the use of groundwater in energy production.
Between July 2019 (the month which we began recycling at scale) and December 31, 2022, we recycled approximately 177 million barrels, or approximately 7.4 billion gallons, of produced water. Our innovative technologies and recycling capabilities provide our customers with a secure and sustainable alternative to fresh and other sources of groundwater. By reducing our customers’ dependence on groundwater, we contribute to their sustainability efforts and the sustainability of the broader energy industry while also providing benefits to our stakeholders and the communities in which we operate.
Full-Cycle Water Management
The volume of water required for hydraulic fracturing and the volume of produced water generated from oil and gas production have significantly increased in the Permian Basin. Additionally, energy producers are increasingly focused on maximizing sustainability and minimizing the environmental impact in the areas in which they operate. These trends represent significant challenges for energy producers. We believe energy producers will increasingly depend on our expansive integrated produced water gathering and recycling assets that are designed specifically to meet these challenges. By developing these partnerships and outsourcing full-cycle produced water management, energy producers can preserve capital for their core operations and ultimately lower water management costs. We provide access to a substantial and growing source of produced water that can be recycled to support energy production, enabling energy producers to lower their water management costs and do so in an environmentally-responsible way.
The figure below demonstrates the movement of produced water through our pipelines for handling or recycling and the multiple points at which we can collect fees on the same barrel of water:
Our Operations and Assets
We manage our business through a single operating segment comprising two primary revenue streams, Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions.
Our Produced Water Handling business gathers, transports and, unless recycled, handles produced water generated from oil and natural gas production. Our Produced Water Handling business is supported by long-term contracts with acreage dedications or minimum volume commitments (“MVCs”), primarily with large, investment-grade operators.
Our Water Solutions business develops and operates recycling facilities to treat, store and recycle produced water. By aggregating significant volumes of produced water from multiple customers on our connected pipeline networks, we can efficiently recycle large volumes of produced water and deliver this recycled water back to our customers in the time frames, volumes and specifications required by their operations. As needed, we also supplement our recycled produced water with non-potable groundwater to meet the
demands of our customers’ operations. We also transferred groundwater on behalf of third-party purchasers and sellers, which related assets were sold in the first quarter of 2022.
Our business is driven by gathering produced water volumes for our Produced Water Handling business and delivering recycled water volumes to customers for our Water Solutions business. In our Produced Water Handling business, we grew our handling volumes from approximately 707,000 barrels per day for the year ended December 31, 2021 to approximately 873,000 barrels per day for the year ended December 31, 2022, an increase of 23%. Within our Water Solutions business, we grew our recycled volumes sold from approximately 123,000 barrels per day on average for the year ended December 31, 2021 to approximately 300,000 barrels per day on average for the year ended December 31, 2022, an increase of 144%.
Recent Operating Developments
In March 2022, we announced an expansion of our alliance with Texas Pacific Land Corporation (“TPL”). As part of the expanded relationship, we have access across TPL’s Northern Delaware Basin surface acreage to provide a full suite of produced water services, including incremental water recycling for two leading large-cap customers operating on TPL royalty and surface acreage. In addition, we received key additional shallow interval water handling locations with the ability to permit more as needed.
In May 2022, we announced a new long-term full-cycle water management agreement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (“Chevron U.S.A.”) in the Permian Basin. Under the arrangement, we will provide produced water handling and recycling services in a portion of Chevron U.S.A.’s core position in the Delaware Basin, including acreage in Eddy and Lea Counties, New Mexico and Culberson and Reeves Counties, Texas.
Delaware Energy Asset Acquisition
In August 2022, we acquired from Delaware Energy, LLC certain produced water handling facilities and associated gathering lines in Lea County and Eddy County, New Mexico. In connection with the closing of the acquisition and as consideration for the assets, we issued to the seller 3,365,907 shares of our Class A common stock and included a small, volumetric-based contingent consideration. Contemporaneously with the issuance of such shares of Class A common stock, Solaris LLC issued 3,365,907 Solaris LLC units to Aris Inc. See Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data ─ Note 4. Acquisitions.
Water Standard Asset Acquisition
In October 2022, we acquired certain intellectual property rights and related proprietary treatment technologies and assets from Water Standard Management (US), Inc. (“Water Standard”) that will support and accelerate the advanced treatment and beneficial reuse of produced water in the Permian Basin. Additionally, we agreed with Water Standard to collaborate in the future on certain advanced water treatment projects that draw on each party’s demonstrated expertise and capabilities. See Part II. Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data ─ Note 4. Acquisitions and “Innovation in Recycling and Sustainable Water Management ─ Water Standard Asset Acquisition,” below.
Total volumes and per barrel operating metrics were as follows for the periods indicated:
Year Ended December 31,
(in thousands, except per barrel data)
Produced Water Handling Volumes (kbwpd)
Water Solutions Volumes (kbwpd) (1)
Total Water Volumes (kbwpd)
Per Barrel Operating Metrics (2)
Produced Water Handling Revenue/Barrel
Water Solutions Revenue/Barrel
Revenue/Barrel of Total Volumes
Direct Operating Costs/Barrel (3)
Adjusted Operating Margin/Barrel (4)
|(1)||Includes recycled volumes sold of approximately 300,000, 123,000, and 44,000 barrels per day for the years ended December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively. Also includes groundwater transfer volumes of approximately 6,000, 44,000, and 11,000 barrels per day for year ended December 31, 2022, 2021, and 2020, respectively, which related assets were sold in in the first quarter of 2022.|
|(2)||Per barrel operating metrics are calculated independently. Therefore, the sum of individual amounts may not equal the total presented.|
|(3)||Direct operating costs include landowner royalties, power expenses for handling and treatment facilities, direct labor, chemicals for water treatment, water filtration expenses, workover expense, repair and maintenance of facilities, and environmental remediation.|
|(4)||Adjusted Operating Margin/Barrel is a Non-GAAP measure. See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations ─ Non-GAAP Financial Measures.|
Our recognized operational capability is supported by our automated and high-capacity integrated pipeline network. We currently have approximately 695 miles of produced water pipeline and 65 produced water handling facilities and we operate 23 high-capacity produced water recycling facilities. Our systems provide an alternative to operators managing their own produced water infrastructure. Increasingly, customers are requesting longer-term agreements that will continue to enable us to expand our asset base. Our assets and operations are located entirely in the Delaware and Midland sub-basins of the broader Permian Basin.
The following map describes our assets as of December 31, 2022:
Our pipeline and water handling assets are comprised primarily of pipelines, pumps and handling and recycling facilities in the core of the Delaware and Midland Basins. These interconnected assets support both our Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions businesses. Our pipeline network consists of approximately 695 installed miles of gathering pipelines, which includes approximately 492 miles of larger diameter (12- to 24-inch) pipelines.
Produced Water Handling Facilities
Our handling facilities, which are designed to process, store and/or dispose of produced water that is not recycled, are essential to our ability to deliver reliable and cost-effective water gathering services to existing and prospective customers across a large geographic footprint. As of December 31, 2022, we have 65 produced water handling facilities which had 1.7 million barrels per day of capacity.
December 31, 2022
Number of Water Handling Facilities
Water Handling Capacity (kbwpd)
|(1)||Includes two facilities currently scheduled to be plugged and abandoned in 2023.|
We have secured significant permits and rights-of-way for additional pipelines and water handling facilities. As of December 31, 2022, we had over 200 miles of additional permitted pipeline rights-of-way and approved permits for an additional 42 produced water handling facilities with over 1.2 million barrels per day of permitted handling capacity. This significant backlog of permitted handling capacity provides us with valuable optionality and a competitive advantage as it allows us to react quickly to meet existing and new customer demand without potential permitting delays.
December 31, 2022
Number of Water Handling Facilities
Water Handling Capacity (kbwpd)
Permitted, Not Installed
Our recycling facilities include water filtration, treatment, storage and redelivery assets. We construct our recycling facilities at strategic locations on our pipeline network where there is both significant customer demand for recycled produced water and high volumes of produced water available. We currently have 23 facilities operational in the Delaware Basin with over 1.2 million barrels per day of treatment capacity and access to over 17.7 million barrels of owned or leased storage capacity.
December 31, 2022
Number of Water Recycling Facilities
Water Recycling Capacity (kbwpd)
We also have the option to rapidly expand our recycling footprint as needed by developing an additional 17 locations that are either permitted or in the process of being permitted. We operate and construct both fixed treatment facilities and modular treatment systems that we can quickly assemble to capitalize on market opportunities.
December 31, 2022
Number of Water Recycling Facilities
Water Recycling Capacity (kbwpd)
Facilities Permitted or in Process of Permitting
Our Customers and Contracts
We have long-term contracts with some of the most active and well-capitalized oil and gas operators in the Permian Basin which are increasingly focused on sustainability and minimizing the environmental impact of their operations. Since inception, we have consistently won new contracts and deepened relationships with existing customers, many of which have executed multiple contracts with us. As of December 31, 2022, we have over 150 contracts for our Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions businesses with more than 40 different customers across approximately 654,000 dedicated acres.
As of December 31, 2022, the weighted average remaining life of our produced water handling acreage dedication contracts was approximately 8.3 years. Our largest customers for the year ended December 31, 2022 were affiliates of ConocoPhillips, Mewbourne Oil Company, Inc. and Chevron Corporation. These customers represented approximately 57% of our revenue for the year ended December 31, 2022. See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Note 3. Additional Financial Statement Information.
Contracts — Produced Water Handling
As produced water volumes from oil and natural gas production in the Permian Basin have significantly grown in recent years, long-term contract structures like those used in the hydrocarbon midstream sector have been adopted for water services. In our Produced Water Handling business, we primarily enter into two types of contracts with our customers: acreage dedications and MVCs. These contractual arrangements are generally long-term. All produced water transported on our gathering pipeline infrastructure for handling or recycling is subject to fee-based contracts, which are generally subject to limited annual Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) based adjustments.
Acreage Dedications. Acreage dedications are term contracts pursuant to which a customer dedicates all water produced from current and future wells that they own or operate in a dedicated area to our system. In turn, we commit to gather and handle such produced water. During 2022, we added approximately 14,000 net dedicated acres. As of December 31, 2022, our acreage dedications covered a total of approximately 654,000 acres and had a weighted average remaining life of approximately 8.3 years.
MVCs. Under our MVC contracts, our customers guarantee to (i) deliver a certain minimum daily volume of produced water to our pipeline network at an agreed upon fee, or (ii) pay a deficiency fee if the minimum daily volume is not met for a specified period. As of December 31, 2022, our contracted aggregate MVCs totaled approximately 155,000 bwpd of produced water and the weighted average remaining life of our MVCs was three years.
Spot Arrangements. We also enter into spot arrangements whereby we can elect to gather and handle our customers’ produced water to the extent we have capacity on our systems when they request offtake capacity. We refer to these volumes as spot volumes. When producers have a need for produced water handling services at locations which are not otherwise contracted to us, we will enter into spot arrangements in order to utilize available capacity and increase volume throughput on our systems.
The following table provides an overview of our active contracts:
Year Ended December 31,
Percentage of Produced Water Handling Revenue
Minimum Volume Commitments ("MVC's")
Skim Oil Sales
Acreage dedications and minimum volume commitments were as follows:
December 31, 2022
Acreage Under Contract (thousands of acres)
Weighted Average Remaining Life (years)
Minimum Volume Commitments
Volumetric Commitment (kbwpd)
Weighted Average Remaining Life (years)
Certain contracts included in the table above include both an acreage dedication and a minimum volume commitment. These contracts represent approximately 56,000 acres of the total acreage under contract and 85 kbwpd of the total volumetric commitment.
Contracts ─ Water Solutions
Our Water Solutions contracts are primarily structured as spot contracts or acreage dedications where we agree to supply water, including recycled water, to our customers for their operations.
We believe our integrated business model, history of operational execution, asset footprint and commitment to produced water recycling are important to current and prospective customers and support our leading position in water recycling in the Permian Basin. We are increasingly entering into longer-term contracts with new and existing customers to provide them with recycled water and groundwater.
Innovation in Recycling and Sustainable Water Management
Our goal is to maximize the amount of produced water we recycle as a percentage of the produced water we gather. We are partnering with leading oil and gas operators, scientists and universities in the field of water treatment to identify, adapt and pilot innovative technologies for beneficial reuse of produced water. We are actively working with the U.S. Department of Energy and the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium to advance certain initiatives related to produced water management, treatment technologies and beneficial reuse. We have identified potential opportunities to treat and discharge produced water for beneficial use including supplementing irrigation water demand, recharging aquifer systems, providing irrigation for range grasses for carbon sequestration, and process water for direct air capture carbon sequestration.
We are also striving to reduce the amount of groundwater used in oil and gas operations by increasing the amount of recycled produced water as a percentage of total water volumes supplied to customers. For the year ended December 31, 2022, 74% of all water we sold was sourced from recycled produced water, exceeding the target goal of 60% set under the KPI of our Sustainability-Linked Bond Framework.
Water Standard Asset Acquisition
In October 2022, we acquired certain intellectual property rights and related proprietary treatment technologies and assets from Water Standard that will support and accelerate the advanced treatment and beneficial reuse of produced water in the Permian Basin. Additionally, we agreed with Water Standard to collaborate in the future on certain advanced water treatment projects that draw on each party’s demonstrated expertise and capabilities.
Strategic Agreement with Chevron U.S.A., ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil
In November 2022, we announced that we had entered into a strategic agreement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and ConocoPhillips to develop and pilot technologies and processes to treat produced water for potential beneficial reuse opportunities. In January 2023, Exxon Mobil Corporation (“ExxonMobil”) joined the agreement. Aris, Chevron U.S.A., ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil’s goal under the strategic agreement is to develop cost effective and scalable methods of treating produced water to create a potential water source for industrial, commercial, and non-consumptive agricultural purposes.
Aris will lead the engineering, construction, and execution of the testing protocols and pilot projects while leveraging the combined technical expertise of Chevron U.S.A., ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil. The treated water will then be reused in a variety of ongoing research projects, including non-consumptive agriculture, low emission hydrogen production, and the direct air capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Aris, Chevron U.S.A., ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil will work with appropriate regulators, with a goal to complete testing and performance evaluation of pilot technologies by the end of 2023.
As December 31, 2022, we had a total of 196 employees, 92 of which service our corporate function and 104 work in field locations. We hire independent contractors on an as needed basis. We and our employees are not subject to any collective bargaining agreements.
Safety is one of our greatest priorities, and we have implemented safety management systems, procedures, trainings, and other tools to help protect our employees and contractors. We strive to hire local employees and have provided mentoring programs for employees to develop specialized skills necessary for our industry. We also provide career development programs to create opportunities for advancement. We encourage development of local leadership and team-based collaboration at our worksites. Our benefits include (i) health care for full-time employees and their eligible dependents, (ii) access to a Safe Harbor 401(k) Plan with a company match of up to 4% of the employee’s salary, (iii) basic life, accidental death & dismemberment, and short and long-term disability insurance, (iv) a family and medical leave policy which affords eligible (hourly and salaried) employees with up to 12 weeks leave for a serious health condition, the care of a family member, or the birth or adoption of a child, (v) wages that exceed state and federal standards and minimums, and (vi) our 2021 Equity Incentive Plan, which gives certain key employees an opportunity to share in our success.
We aim to foster a diverse and inclusive culture, and greater than 50% of our workforce is minority and/or female as of December 31, 2022. We also support local communities where we operate by giving to and volunteering with first responders and local charities.
Organizational Structure and Corporate Information
Initial Public Offering
On October 26, 2021, we completed the IPO of 20,297,500 shares of our Class A common stock, par value $0.01 per share (“Class A common stock”), which included 2,647,500 shares of Class A common stock issued and sold pursuant to the underwriters’ exercise of their option in full to purchase additional shares of
Class A common stock, at a price to the public of $13.00 per share ($12.14 per share net of underwriting discounts and commissions and other issuance costs). After deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses payable by us, we received net proceeds of approximately $246.4 million. We contributed all of the net proceeds of the IPO received to Solaris LLC in exchange for Solaris LLC units. Solaris LLC distributed approximately $213.2 million of the net proceeds to the owners of Solaris LLC units at the time of the IPO (“Legacy Owners”) and retained the remaining $33.2 million of the net proceeds for general corporate purposes, which may include capital expenditures, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.
At the conclusion of the IPO, we owned an approximate 38% interest in Solaris LLC and the Legacy Owners owned an approximate 62% interest in Solaris LLC. We report noncontrolling interests on our consolidated balance sheet related to the portion of Solaris LLC units not held by us. See Consolidation, below.
We are a holding company and our principal asset is a membership interest in Solaris LLC. As the sole managing member of Solaris LLC, we operate and control all of the business and affairs of Solaris LLC, and through Solaris LLC and its subsidiaries, conduct its business. We are responsible for all operational, management and administrative decisions relating to Solaris LLC’s business. As a result, beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021, we consolidate the financial results of Solaris LLC and its subsidiaries and report noncontrolling interests related to the portion of Solaris LLC units not owned by us, which reduces net income attributable to our Class A common stockholders.
The transactions described above (altogether, the “Corporate Reorganization”) have been accounted for as a reorganization of entities under common control. As a result, our consolidated financial statements recognize the assets and liabilities received in the Corporate Reorganization at their historical carrying amounts, as reflected in the historical financial statements of Solaris LLC. We consolidate Solaris LLC in our consolidated financial statements and record a non-controlling interest related to the Solaris LLC units held by the Class B stockholders in our consolidated balance sheet and statement of operations.
The following diagram reflects our ownership structure as of December 31, 2022:
Under the Solaris LLC Agreement, Legacy Owners of Solaris LLC units, subject to certain limitations, have the right, pursuant to a redemption right, to cause Solaris LLC to acquire all or a portion of their Solaris LLC units for, at Solaris LLC’s election, (x) shares of our Class A common stock at a redemption ratio of one share of Class A common stock for each Solaris LLC unit redeemed, subject to conversion rate adjustments for stock splits, stock dividends and reclassifications or (y) an equivalent amount of cash. Alternatively, upon the exercise of the redemption right, we have the right, pursuant to a call right, to acquire each tendered Solaris LLC unit directly from the Legacy Owner for, at our election, (x) one share of Class A common stock or (y) an equivalent amount of cash.
During the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, 4,140,585 and 1,486,396 Solaris LLC units, respectively, were converted (together with an equal number of shares of Class B common stock) into shares of our Class A common stock. As of December 31, 2022, we owned an approximate 52% interest in Solaris LLC and the Legacy Owners owned an approximate 48% interest in Solaris LLC. On March 1, 2023, an additional 20,953 Solaris LLC units were converted (together with an equal number of shares of Class B common stock) into shares of our Class A common stock.
Emerging Growth Company
We qualify as an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”). The JOBS Act provides that an emerging growth company may take advantage of an extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. This provision allows an emerging growth company to delay the adoption of accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have elected to take advantage of this extended transition period, and as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards on the relevant dates on which adoption is required for private companies.
Tax Receivable Agreement
At the closing of the IPO, we entered into a Tax Receivable Agreement (the “TRA”) with the Legacy Owners of Solaris LLC units (each such person, a “TRA Holder,” and together, the “TRA Holders”). The Tax Receivable Agreement generally provides for the payment by us to each TRA Holder of 85% of the net cash savings, if any, in U.S. federal, state and local income tax and franchise tax that we actually realize (computed using simplifying assumptions to address the impact of state and local taxes) or are deemed to realize in certain circumstances in periods after the IPO as a result of certain increases in tax basis that occur as a result of our acquisition or Solaris LLC’s redemption, respectively, of all or a portion of such TRA Holder’s Solaris LLC units in connection with the IPO or pursuant to the exercise of a redemption right or call right. We retain the remaining 15% of these cash savings. The future benefit of these cash savings is included, alongside other tax attributes, in our total deferred tax asset balances at December 31, 2022 and 2021. As of December 31, 2022, the TRA liability totaled $98.0 million.
We estimate that if all the remaining Solaris LLC units were converted to Class A common stock on December 31, 2022, the TRA liability would be approximately $240.4 million. If we experience a change of control (as defined under the TRA, which includes certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations and change of control events) or the TRA terminates early (at our election or as a result of our breach), we could be required to make an immediate lump-sum payment under the terms of the TRA. As of December 31, 2022, we estimate the liability associated with this lump-sum payment (or “early termination payment”) would be approximately $159.0 million, discounted. The amount of this liability for a change of control can be significantly impacted by the closing price of our Class A shares on the applicable exchange date. We currently do not anticipate experiencing a change of control or an early termination of the TRA.
See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Liquidity and Capital Resources – Tax Receivable Agreement.
For each quarter of the year ended December 31, 2022, our Board declared a dividend of $0.09 per share on our Class A common stock. In conjunction with the dividend payments, quarterly distributions of $0.09 per unit were paid to unit holders of Solaris LLC. The dividends and distributions were also paid during the year ended December 31, 2022.
On March 3, 2023, we announced that our Board declared a dividend on our Class A common stock for the first quarter of the year ended December 31, 2023 of $0.09 per share. In conjunction with the dividend payment, a distribution of $0.09 per unit will be paid to unit holders of Solaris LLC. The dividend will be paid on March 29, 2023 to holders of record of our Class A common stock as of the close of business on March 17, 2023. The distribution to unit holders of Solaris LLC will be subject to the same payment and record dates.
See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations – Liquidity and Capital Resources – Dividends and Distributions.
Aris Inc. was incorporated as a Delaware corporation on May 26, 2021. Our principal executive office is located at 9811 Katy Freeway, Suite 700, Houston, Texas 77024, and we have additional offices in Midland, Texas and Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Our website address is www.ariswater.com. Our Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act are available, free of charge, through our website, as soon as reasonably practicable after those reports and other information are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC.
Also posted on our website under “Investor Relations – Corporate Governance – Governance Documents,” and available in print upon request made by any shareholder to the Investor Relations Department, are our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and Principles of Corporate Governance, as well as our charters for our Nominating and ESG Committee, Compensation Committee and Audit Committee. Within the time period required by the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”), as applicable, we will post on our website any modifications to the Codes and any waivers applicable to senior officers as defined in the applicable Code, as required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”).
We webcast our earnings calls and certain events we participate in or host with members of the investment community on our investor relations website. Additionally, we provide notifications of news or announcements regarding our financial performance, including SEC filings, investor events and presentations, press and earnings releases, as part of our investor relations website. We intend for our website to be a forum of public dissemination for purposes of Regulation FD.
Information contained on our website or linked therein or otherwise connected thereto does not constitute part of and is not incorporated by reference into this Annual Report.
We compete with public and private water infrastructure companies as well as operators developing systems in-house for produced water handling and recycling in the areas in which we operate. Competition in the water infrastructure industry is based on the geographic location of facilities, business reputation, operating reliability and flexibility, business service offerings, available capacity and pricing arrangements for the services offered. We compete with other companies that provide similar services in our areas of operations, but we benefit from our relationships with large operators in the Permian Basin, including ConocoPhillips, and our reputation as a proven, reliable service provider and our deep commitment to recycling and sustainability. As we seek to expand our water gathering, recycling and handling services to new customers, we will continue to face a high level of competition.
In general, seasonal factors do not have a significant direct effect on our business. However, extreme weather conditions during parts of the year could adversely impact the well-completion activities of our customers, who are oil and natural gas operators, thereby reducing the amount of produced water to be gathered and either recycled or handled as well as the volume of Water Solutions barrels sold to our customers.
Our assets may experience physical damage as a result of an accident or natural disaster. These hazards can also cause personal injury and loss of life, severe damage to and destruction of property and equipment, pollution or environmental damage and suspension of operations. Litigation arising from such an event may
result in us being named a defendant in lawsuits asserting large claims. We maintain our own general liability, product liability, property, business interruption, directors and officers liability, workers compensation, cybersecurity and pollution liability insurance policies, among other policies, at varying levels of deductibles and limits that we believe are reasonable and prudent under the circumstances to cover our operations and assets. As we continue to grow, we will continue to evaluate our policy limits and retentions as they relate to the overall cost and scope of our insurance program.
We are subject to a variety of laws in connection with our operations, including those related to the environment, health and safety, personal privacy and data protection, intellectual property, advertising and marketing, labor, competition and taxation. These laws and regulations are constantly evolving and may be interpreted, implemented or amended in a manner that could harm our business. It also is possible that as our business grows and evolves, we will become subject to additional laws and regulations. There is no assurance that compliance with current laws and regulations or amended or newly adopted laws and regulations can be maintained in the future or that future expenditures required to comply with all such laws and regulations in the future will not be material. In the course of implementing our programs to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations, certain instances of potential non-compliance may be identified from time to time. We cannot predict the outcome of these matters, and cannot estimate a range of reasonably possible losses, if any. This section sets forth the summary of material laws and regulations relevant to our business operations.
Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health Matters
Our operations and the operations of our customers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the U.S. relating to protection of natural resources and the environment, health and safety aspects of our operations and waste management, including the disposal of waste and other materials. Numerous governmental entities, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and analogous state agencies, have the power to enforce compliance with these laws and regulations and the permits issued under them, often requiring difficult and costly actions. These laws and regulations may, among other things (i) require the acquisition of permits to take fresh water from surface water and groundwater, construct pipelines or containment facilities, drill wells and other regulated activities; (ii) restrict the types, quantities and concentration of various substances that can be released into the environment or injected into non-producing belowground formations; (iii) limit or prohibit our operations on certain lands lying within wilderness, wetlands and other protected areas; (iv) require remedial measures to mitigate pollution from former and ongoing operations; (v) impose specific safety and health criteria addressing worker protection; and (vi) impose substantial liabilities for pollution resulting from our operations. Any failure on our part or the part of our customers to comply with these laws and regulations could result in the impairment or cancellation of operations, assessment of sanctions, including administrative, civil and criminal penalties, injunctions, reputational damage, the imposition of investigatory, remedial, and corrective action obligations or the incurrence of capital expenditures; the occurrence of restrictions, delays or cancellations in the permitting, development or expansion of projects; and the issuance of injunctions restricting or prohibiting some or all of our activities in a particular area.
The trend in U.S. environmental regulation is typically to place more restrictions and limitations on activities that may affect the environment. Any new laws and regulations, amendment of existing laws and regulations, reinterpretation of legal requirements or increased governmental enforcement that result in more stringent and costly construction, completion or water-management activities, or waste handling, storage transport, disposal, or remediation requirements could have a material adverse effect on our financial position and results of operations. The following is a summary of the more significant existing environmental and occupational safety and health laws in the U.S., as amended from time to time, to which our operations are subject and for which compliance may have a material adverse impact on our capital expenditures, results of operations or financial position.
Hazardous substances and wastes. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), and comparable state statutes regulate the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, disposal and cleanup of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes. Pursuant to rules issued by the EPA, the individual states administer some or all of the provisions of RCRA, sometimes in conjunction with their own, more stringent requirements. Drilling fluids, produced waters, and most of the other wastes associated with the exploration, development, and production of oil or gas, if properly handled, are currently exempt from regulation as hazardous waste under RCRA, and instead are regulated under RCRA’s less stringent non-hazardous waste provisions, state laws or other federal laws. However, it is possible that certain oil and gas drilling and production wastes now classified as non-hazardous could be classified as hazardous wastes in the future. Any loss of the RCRA exclusion for drilling fluids, produced waters and related wastes could result in an increase in our and our oil and gas producing customers’ costs to manage and dispose of generated wastes, which could have a material adverse effect on our and our customers’ results of operations and financial position.
Wastes containing naturally occurring radioactive materials (“NORM”) may also be generated in connection with our operations. Certain processes used to produce oil and gas may enhance the radioactivity of NORM, which may be present in oilfield wastes. NORM is subject primarily to individual state radiation control regulations. Texas and New Mexico have both enacted regulations governing the handling, treatment, storage and disposal of NORM. In addition, NORM handling and management activities are governed by regulations promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). These state and OSHA regulations impose certain requirements concerning worker protection, the treatment, storage and disposal of NORM waste, the management of waste piles, containers and tanks containing NORM, as well as restrictions on the uses of land with NORM contamination.
The federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), also known as the Superfund law, and comparable state laws impose liability, without regard to fault or legality of conduct, on classes of persons considered to be responsible for the release of a “hazardous substance” into the environment. These persons include the current and past owner or operator of the site where the hazardous substance release occurred and anyone who disposed or arranged for the disposal of a hazardous substance released at the site. Under CERCLA, such 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. CERCLA also authorizes the EPA and, in some instances, third parties to act in response to threats to the public health or the environment and to seek to recover from the responsible classes of persons the costs they incur. In addition, neighboring landowners and other third parties may file claims for personal injury and property damage allegedly caused by the hazardous substances released into the environment. We generate materials in the course of our operations that may be regulated as hazardous substances.
Water discharges and use. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), and analogous state laws, impose restrictions and strict controls with respect to the discharge of pollutants, including spills and leaks of oil and hazardous substances, into state waters and waters of the U.S. The discharge of pollutants into regulated waters is prohibited, except in accordance with the terms of a permit issued by the EPA or an analogous state agency. Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan requirements imposed under the CWA require appropriate containment berms and similar structures to help prevent the contamination of navigable waters in the event of a petroleum hydrocarbon tank spill, rupture or leak. In addition, the CWA and analogous state laws require individual permits or coverage under general permits for discharges of stormwater runoff from certain types of facilities. Federal and state regulatory agencies can impose administrative, civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance with discharge permits or other requirements of the CWA and analogous state laws and regulations.
The CWA also prohibits the discharge of dredge and fill material into regulated waters, including wetlands, unless authorized by permit. In 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the “Corps”) under the Obama Administration published a final rule attempting to clarify the federal jurisdictional reach over waters of the U.S. However, the EPA rescinded this rule in 2019 and promulgated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule in 2020. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule defined what waters qualify as navigable waters of the
United States under Clean Water Act jurisdiction. This rule has generally been viewed as narrowing the scope of waters of the United States as compared to the 2015 rule, and litigation has been filed in multiple federal district courts challenging the rescission of the 2015 rule and the promulgation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. In June 2021, the Biden Administration announced plans to develop its own definition for such waters, and in August 2021, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona issued an order striking down the Navigable Water Protection Rule. On December 7, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) announced a proposed rule to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” The agencies propose to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. The public comment period on the proposed rule closed on February 7, 2022. The final revised definition of “waters of the United States” was issued on December 30, 2022, which will be effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register at 33 C.F.R. 328.3 and 40 C.F.R. 120.2. The rule broadens the scope of the “waters of the United States” consistent with the framework of the pre-2015 regulations (also called the 1986 regulations). Expansion of the scope of the Clean Water Act’s jurisdiction in areas where we conduct operations could cause us to incur increased costs and restrictions, delays or cancellations in permitting or projects, which developments could expose us to significant costs and liabilities. In addition, on January 24, 2022, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the scope of the Clean Water Act again in Sackett v. EPA; the case was argued on October 3, 2022, and a decision remains pending.
Separately, in April 2020, a Montana federal judge vacated the Corps’ Nationwide Permit (“NWP”) 12 and enjoined the Corps from authorizing any dredge or fill activities under NWP 12 until the agency completed formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “USFWS”) under the Endangered Species Act (the “ESA”) regarding NWP 12 generally. The court later revised its order to vacate NWP 12 only as it relates to the construction of new oil and natural gas pipelines, and that order was partially vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as moot based on the Corps’ re-issuance of NWPs in 2021. The reissued NWP 12 has been challenged again by environmental groups in federal court because the Corps allegedly failed to consult with USFWS.
Water handling facilities and seismicity. Saltwater disposal via underground injection is regulated pursuant to the Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) program established under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (the “SDWA”) and analogous state and local laws and regulations. The UIC program includes requirements for permitting, testing, monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting of injection well activities, as well as a prohibition against the migration of fluid containing any contaminant into underground sources of drinking water. State regulations require a permit from the applicable regulatory agencies to operate underground injection wells. Although we monitor the injection process of our wells, any leakage from the subsurface portions of the injection wells could cause degradation of fresh groundwater resources, potentially resulting in suspension of our UIC permit, issuance of fines and penalties from governmental agencies, incurrence of expenditures for remediation of the affected resource and imposition of liability by third parties claiming damages for alternative water supplies, property and personal injuries. A change in UIC disposal well regulations or the inability to obtain permits for new disposal wells in the future may affect our ability to dispose of produced water and other substances, which could affect our business.
Furthermore, in response to seismic events in the past several years near underground disposal wells used for the disposal by injection of produced water resulting from oil and gas activities, federal and some state agencies are investigating whether such wells have caused or contributed to increased seismic activity, and some states have restricted, suspended, or shut down the use of disposal wells within the vicinity of seismic events. In response to these concerns, regulators in some states have imposed, or are considering imposing, additional requirements in the permitting of produced water disposal wells or otherwise to assess any relationship between seismicity and the use of such wells.
We currently operate in the states of New Mexico and Texas, where the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (the “NMOCD”) and the Texas Railroad Commission (the “TRC”), respectively, have the authority to regulate disposal activity, including the authority to address seismic activity in their respective states. For example, the TRC requires applicants for new disposal wells that will receive non-hazardous produced water
or other oil and natural gas waste to conduct seismic activity searches utilizing the U.S. Geological Survey. The searches are intended to determine the potential for earthquakes within a circular area of 100 square miles around a proposed new disposal well. If the permittee or an applicant for a disposal well permit fails to demonstrate that the produced water or other fluids are confined to the disposal zone, or if scientific data indicates such a disposal well is likely to be, or determined to be, contributing to seismic activity, then the TRC may deny, modify, suspend or terminate the permit application or existing operating permit for that disposal well. The TRC has used this authority to deny permits for certain waste disposal wells.
Most recently, in 2021, the NMOCD and TRC created Seismic Response Areas (“SRAs”) with action plans to address seismic activity as further discussed below.
The NMOCD has implemented a Seismic Response Protocol, which outlines certain reporting and curtailment requirements for operators in SRAs to follow in response to seismic events based on the magnitude and proximity to the event. The NMOCD also created the Hat Mesa SRA in Northern Lea County, New Mexico in response to a seismic event that occurred in that area in the fourth quarter of 2021. The Hat Mesa SRA and associated Seismic Response Protocol resulted in additional reporting requirements, including more frequent reporting with daily injection volume and pressure data for operators within 10 miles of the seismic event, and the reduction of monthly injection volumes for wells within six miles of the seismic event. We operate four wells located within the Hat Mesa SRA that are subject to the protocol and we have partially curtailed injection in one of the wells by approximately 5 kbwpd. We continue to operate our partially curtailed well. However, to date we have not had an operational impact on gathering volumes. We are also required to submit daily injection and pressure volumes on a weekly reporting basis. As there was no further seismic activity within the Hat Mesa SRA in 2022, the NMOCD reduced curtailment requirements.
The TRC established the Gardendale SRA in September 2021, the North Culberson-Reeves SRA in October 2021 and the Stanton SRA in January 2022.
The Gardendale SRA is located in northwest Midland County and parts of neighboring Ector, Martin and Andrews Counties. The TRC issued a response in December 2021 to operators of deep interval disposal wells suspending all disposal well permits injecting into deep strata, defined as formations below the base of the Wolfcamp formation. As of December 31, 2022, we owned one well within the Gardendale SRA, which well was plugged and abandoned subsequent to year end 2022.
The Northern Culberson-Reeves SRA was expanded in 2022, which expansion partially overlaps our operations in Northern Culberson, Reeves, and Loving Counties, Texas. However, to date the Northern-Culberson-Reeves SRA has not had an impact on our operations.
The Stanton SRA is located in Martin County and the western portion of Howard County. Saltwater disposal well operators within the Stanton SRA created a response plan which began on May 15, 2022. The plan employs a two-tiered approach based on the depth of the disposal zone (shallow versus deep disposal wells) and includes expanded data collection efforts, contingency responses for future seismicity, and scheduled checkpoint updates with TRC staff. We participate in the response plan and as of December 31, 2022, our partcipatoin in the response plan has not had an impact on our operations.
See Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors ─ Legislation or regulatory initiatives intended to address seismic activity could restrict our ability to recycle or handle produced water gathered from our E&P customers and, accordingly, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
See also Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations ─ General Trends and Outlook – Seismicity for a discussion of the impact on our business.
Hydraulic fracturing activities. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of water, sand or other proppants and chemical additives under pressure into targeted geological formations to fracture the surrounding rock and stimulate production. Hydraulic fracturing is an important and common practice that is typically regulated by state oil and natural gas commissions or similar agencies. However, the practice continues to be controversial in certain parts of the country, resulting in increased scrutiny and regulation of the hydraulic fracturing process, including by federal agencies that have asserted regulatory authority or pursued investigations over certain aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process. For example, the EPA has asserted regulatory authority pursuant to the SDWA UIC program over hydraulic fracturing activities involving the use of diesel and issued guidance covering such activities, as well as published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) reporting of the chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing.
Additionally, in 2016, the EPA published an effluent limit guideline final rule prohibiting the discharge of wastewater from onshore unconventional oil and gas extraction facilities to publicly owned wastewater treatment plants. Also, in late 2016, the EPA released its final report on the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, concluding that “water cycle” activities associated with hydraulic fracturing may impact drinking water resources under some circumstances.
Various policy makers, regulatory agencies and political candidates at the federal, state and local levels have proposed restrictions on hydraulic fracturing, including its outright prohibition. In January 2021, President Biden signed an executive order that, among other things, instructed the Secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of federal oil and natural gas permitting and leasing practices. Following that executive order, the acting Secretary of the Interior issued an order imposing a 60-day pause on the issuance of new leases, permits and right-of-way grants for oil and gas drilling on federal lands, unless approved by senior officials at the Department of the Interior. In March 2021, prior to the expiration of the Secretary of the Interior’s order, President Biden announced that career staff at the Department of the Interior would resume processing oil and gas drilling permits. In June 2021, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Louisiana issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the pause of oil and natural gas leasing on public lands or in offshore waters while litigation challenging that aspect of the executive order is ongoing. The full impact of these federal actions remains unclear, and if other restrictions or prohibitions become effective in the future, they could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Some state and local governments have adopted, and other governmental entities are considering adopting, regulations that could impose more stringent permitting, disclosure and well-construction requirements on hydraulic fracturing operations, including states where we or our customers operate. In recent years, for example, various bills have been introduced in the New Mexico Senate to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.
In the event that new federal, state or local restrictions or bans on the hydraulic fracturing process are adopted in areas where we or our customers conduct business, we or our customers may incur additional costs or permitting requirements to comply with such requirements that may be significant in nature and our customers could experience added restrictions, delays or cancellations in their exploration, development, or production activities, which would in turn reduce the demand for our services and have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, consolidated results of operations, and consolidated financial condition.
Air Emissions. The U.S. Clean Air Act (“CAA”) and comparable state laws restrict the emission of air pollutants from many sources through air emissions standards, construction and operating permit programs and the imposition of other compliance standards. These laws and regulations may require us to obtain pre-approval for the construction or modification of certain projects or facilities expected to produce or significantly increase air emissions, obtain and strictly comply with stringent air permit requirements or utilize specific equipment or technologies to control emissions of certain pollutants. The need to obtain permits has the potential to delay our projects as well as our customers’ development of oil and gas projects. Over the next several years, we or our customers may incur certain capital expenditures for air pollution control equipment or other air emissions-related issues. For example, in 2015, the EPA issued a final rule under the CAA,
lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (“NAAQS”) for ground-level ozone from the current standard of 75 parts per million to 70 parts per million under both the primary and secondary standards to provide requisite protection of public health and welfare, respectively. Since that time, the EPA has issued area designations with respect to ground-level ozone and final requirements that apply to state, local, and tribal air agencies for implementing the 2015 NAAQS for ground-level ozone.
Climate Change. Climate change continues to attract considerable public, political and scientific attention. As a result, numerous regulatory initiatives have been enacted, and are likely to continue to be developed, at the international, national, regional and state levels of government to monitor and limit existing emissions of GHGs as well as to restrict or eliminate such future emissions. At the federal level, in December 2009, the EPA determined that emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other GHGs endanger public health and the environment because emissions of such gases are, according to the EPA, contributing to warming of the Earth’s atmosphere and other climatic changes. Based on these findings, the EPA began adopting and implementing regulations to restrict emissions of GHGs under existing provisions of the CAA. In November 2021, the EPA also proposed New Source Performance Standards updates and emission guidelines to reduce methane and other pollutants from the oil and gas industry.
President Biden and the Democratic Party have identified climate change as a priority, and it is expected that new executive orders, regulatory action and/or legislation targeting GHG emissions, or prohibiting or restricting oil and gas development activities in certain areas, will be proposed and/or promulgated during the Biden Administration. The Biden Administration, for example, reentered the United States into the Paris Agreement in February 2021. In addition, the Biden Administration has already issued multiple executive orders pertaining to environmental regulations and climate change, including the Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis and Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. In the latter executive order, President Biden established climate change as a primary foreign policy and national security consideration, affirmed that achieving net-zero GHG emissions by or before midcentury is a critical priority, affirmed the Biden Administration’s desire to establish the United States as a leader in addressing climate change, generally further integrated climate change and environmental justice considerations into government agencies’ decision-making, and eliminated fossil fuel subsidies, among other measures. Under the Paris Agreement, the Biden Administration has committed the United States to reducing its GHG emissions by 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. In November 2021, the United States and other countries entered into the Glasgow Climate Pact, which includes a range of measures designed to address climate change, including but not limited to the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, reducing methane emissions 30% by 2030, and cooperating toward the advancement of the development of clean energy. In December 2022, the EPA issued a supplemental proposal to update, strengthen, and expand the standards proposed in November 2021 and further reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions from oil and natural gas facilities.
While Congress has from time to time considered legislation to reduce emissions of GHGs, there has not been significant activity in the form of adopted legislation to reduce emissions of GHGs in recent years. In the absence of Congressional action, many states have established rules aimed at reducing or tracking GHG emissions. In January 2019, New Mexico’s governor signed an executive order declaring that New Mexico would support the goals of the Paris Agreement by joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing GHG emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The stated objective of the executive order is to achieve a statewide reduction in GHG emissions of at least 45% by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels. The executive order also requires New Mexico regulatory agencies to create an “enforceable regulatory framework” to ensure methane emission reductions. Pursuant to that executive order, in 2020, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division and New Mexico Environment Department proposed certain rules regarding the reduction of natural gas waste and the control of emissions. The final rule, known as the Ozone Precursor Rule, was published on July 26, 2022 and became effective on August 5, 2022. It is more protective than current federal requirements. The New Mexico Ozone Precursor Rule includes, among other things, requirements that upstream and midstream operators reduce natural gas waste by a fixed amount each year and achieve a reduction in ozone precursor pollutants (volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen) of approximately 260 million pounds annually. The Ozone Precursor Rule
contains requirements applicable to produced water management units (“PWMUs”) (defined to include recycling facilities, permanent pits, and ponds designed to accumulated produced water—the incidental byproduct of well completion and oil and gas production—with storage capacity of at least 50,000 barrels), such as emissions standards, monitoring requirements, and recordkeeping requirements. Similar efforts have been made in the New Mexico state legislature, including introduction in January 2022 of the Clean Future Act to establish GHG emissions limits; the Clean Future Act was postponed indefinitely in committee.
Many states have also established or begun participating in GHG cap and trade programs. Most of these cap and trade programs work by requiring major sources of emissions, such as electric power plants, or major producers of fuels, such as refineries and natural gas processing plants, to acquire and surrender emission allowances. The number of allowances available for purchase is reduced each year in an effort to achieve the overall GHG emission reduction goal.
Endangered Species. The ESA restricts activities that may affect endangered or threatened species or their habitats. Similar protections are offered to migratory birds under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (the “MBTA”) and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (“BGEPA”). To the degree that species listed under the ESA or similar state laws, or are protected under the MBTA or BGEPA, live in the areas where we or our oil and gas producing customers operate, our and our customers’ abilities to conduct or expand operations and construct facilities could be limited or be forced to incur material additional costs. Moreover, our customers’ drilling activities may be delayed, restricted, or cancelled in protected habitat areas or during certain seasons, such as breeding and nesting seasons. Some of our operations and the operations of our customers are located in areas that are designated as habitats for protected species. In addition, the USFWS may make determinations on the listing of unlisted species as endangered or threatened under the ESA. The USFWS declared the southern population of the lesser prairie-chicken as an endangered species on November 25, 2022. We entered into the voluntary Candidate Conservation Agreement (“CCAA”) in January 2023. By voluntarily participating in the CCAA, our ongoing oil and gas activities have greater flexibility in project development in the lesser-prarie chicken range and we avoid a lengthy project consultation on each new project between the BLM and USFWS. The designation of previously unidentified endangered or threatened species could indirectly cause us to incur additional costs, cause our or our oil and gas producing customers’ operations to become subject to operating restrictions or bans and limit future development activity in affected areas. The USFWS and similar state agencies may designate critical or suitable habitat areas that they believe are necessary for the survival of threatened or endangered species. Such a designation could materially restrict use of or access to federal, state, and private lands.
Chemical Safety. We are subject to a wide array of laws and regulations governing chemicals, including the regulation of chemical substances and inventories, such as TSCA in the U.S. These laws and regulations change frequently and have the potential to limit or ban altogether the types of chemicals we may use in our products, as well as result in increased costs related to testing, storing, and transporting our products prior to providing them to our customers. For example, in 2016, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (the “Lautenberg Act”), which substantially revised TSCA. Amongst other items, the Lautenberg Act eliminated the cost-benefit approach to analyzing chemical safety concerns with a health-based safety standard and requires all chemicals in commerce, including those “grandfathered” under TSCA, to undergo a safety review. The Lautenberg Act also requires safety findings before a new chemical can enter the market. Although it is not possible at this time to predict how EPA will implement and interpret the new provisions of the Lautenberg Act, or how legislation or new regulations that may be adopted pursuant to these regulatory and legislative efforts would impact our business, any new restrictions on the development of new products, increases in regulation, or disclosure of confidential, competitive information could have an adverse effect on our operations and our cost of doing business.
Furthermore, governmental, regulatory and societal demands for increasing levels of product safety and environmental protection could result in increased pressure for more stringent regulatory control with respect to the chemical industry. These concerns could influence public perceptions regarding our products and operations, the viability of certain products, our reputation, the cost to comply with regulations, and the ability to attract and retain employees. Moreover, changes in environmental, health and safety regulations could
inhibit or interrupt our operations, or require us to modify our facilities or operations. Accordingly, environmental or regulatory matters may cause us to incur significant unanticipated losses, costs or liabilities, which could reduce our profitability.
Occupational Safety and Health and other legal requirements. We are subject to the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act and comparable state statutes whose purpose is to protect the health and safety of workers. In addition, the OSHA’s hazard communication standard, the EPA’s Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and comparable state regulations and any implementing regulations require that we organize and/or disclose information about hazardous materials used or produced in our operations and that this information be provided to employees, state and local governmental authorities and citizens. We have an internal program of inspection designed to monitor and enforce compliance with worker safety requirements.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Described below are certain risks that we believe are applicable to our business. The risks described below are not the only ones that we face. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial individually or in the aggregate may also impair our business operations. This information should be considered carefully, together with other information in this report and other reports and materials we file with the SEC. If any of these risks were to occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations or liquidity and the trading price of our Class A common stock could be materially adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Business
Our business depends on capital spending by the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin and reductions in capital spending could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, results of operations and financial condition.
Demand for our services is directly affected by current and anticipated oil and natural gas prices and demand and related capital spending by our customers to explore for, develop and produce oil and gas in the Permian Basin. Our produced water handling revenues are substantially dependent upon oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids (“NGL”) production from our customers’ upstream activity. Our Water Solutions revenues are substantially dependent upon the number of wells drilled and completed by our customers and the amount of water used in completing each well. In addition, there is a natural decline in production from existing wells that are connected to our gathering systems. We have no control over the amount of resources that our customers devote to the development of oil and gas reserves, and our customers have the ability to reduce or curtail such development at their discretion. Prices for oil and gas historically have been extremely volatile and are expected to continue to be volatile, particularly in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and recent increases in inflation. Prices are also impacted by decisions made by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) plus the countries of Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan (together with OPEC, “OPEC+”) to either increase or cut production of oil and gas.
During the year ended December 31, 2022, the average West Texas Intermediate (“WTI”) spot price was $94.90, versus an average price of $67.99 for the year ended December 31, 2021. While oil prices have improved since their lows in April 2020, the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent increases in inflation and world conflict events, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the associated impacts to oil demand will result in continued uncertainty around the near-term price of oil.
If oil and gas prices decline, our customers may further reduce their exploration, development and production activities and demand lower rates for our services or delay, modify, or terminate their use of our services. Volatility or weakness in oil prices or natural gas prices (or the perception that oil prices or natural gas prices will decrease) affects the spending patterns of our customers and may result in the drilling or completion of fewer new wells or lower production spending on existing wells. This, in turn, could lead to lower demand for
our services and may cause lower rates and lower utilization of our assets. Even in an environment of stronger oil and gas prices, fewer oil and gas completions in our market areas as a result of decreased capital spending may have a negative long-term impact on our business. Any of these conditions or events could adversely affect our operating results, as they did in 2020 and may do so in the future. If our customers fail to maintain or increase their capital spending and demand for our services, it could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, results of operations and financial condition.
Industry conditions are influenced by numerous factors over which we have no control, including, among other things:
|●||the severity and duration of world health events, related economic repercussions and the resulting severe disruption in the oil and gas industry and negative impact on demand for oil and gas, which negatively impacts the demand for our services;|
|●||domestic and foreign economic conditions and supply of and demand for oil and gas;|
|●||the level of prices, and expectations regarding future prices, of oil and gas;|
|●||the level of global oil and gas exploration and production and storage capacity;|
|●||actions by the members of OPEC+ with respect to oil production levels and announcements of potential changes in such levels, including the ability of the OPEC+ countries to agree on and comply with supply limitations;|
|●||governmental regulations, including environmental restrictions and the policies of governments regarding the exploration for and production and development of their oil and gas reserves;|
|●||releases from strategic oil reserves;|
|●||governmental laws, policies, regulations, subsidies and other actions to promote the use of renewable energy sources;|
|●||federal and state regulators responses to seismicity;|
|●||taxation and royalty charges;|
|●||political and economic conditions in oil and gas producing countries;|
|●||global weather conditions, pandemics and natural disasters;|
|●||worldwide political, military and economic conditions, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict and any related political or economic responses;|
|●||the cost of producing and delivering oil and gas;|
|●||the discovery rates of new oil and gas reserves and the availability of commercially viable geographic areas in which to explore and produce crude oil and natural gas;|
|●||activities by non-governmental organizations to limit certain sources of funding for the energy sector or restrict the exploration, development and production of oil and gas;|
|●||the ability of oil and gas producers to access capital;|
|●||technical advances affecting production efficiencies and overall energy consumption; and|
|●||the potential acceleration of the development of alternative fuels.|
If oil prices or natural gas prices remain volatile or were to decline, the demand for our services could be adversely affected.
The volume of water we process is driven in large part by the level of crude oil production, which is primarily determined by current and anticipated oil and natural gas prices and the related levels of capital spending and drilling activity in the areas in which we have operations. Volatility or weakness in oil prices or natural gas prices (or the perception that oil prices or natural gas prices will decrease) affects the spending patterns of our customers and may result in the drilling or completion of fewer new wells or lower production spending on existing wells. This, in turn, could lead to lower demand for our services and may cause lower rates and lower utilization of our assets. If oil prices or natural gas prices decline, or if completions activity is reduced, the demand for our services and our results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. In addition, one of our significant customer contracts provides for rates that periodically fluctuate within a defined range in response to changes in WTI; therefore, a portion of our revenue is directly exposed to fluctuations in the price of crude oil.
As part of our water processing activities, we aggregate and sell recovered crude oil, also known as skim oil. A portion of our cash flow from operations is dependent on skim oil sales revenue, which is directly exposed to fluctuations in the price of crude oil. Fluctuations and decreases in production volume or the price that we receive for skim oil could impact our liquidity, results of operations or financial condition.
Prices for oil and gas historically have been extremely volatile and are expected to continue to be volatile. During 2022, WTI prices ranged from a low of $71.05 to a high of $123.64 per barrel. If the prices of oil and natural gas decline, our operations, financial condition, cash flows and level of expenditures may be materially and adversely affected.
The crude oil and natural gas production industry tends to run in cycles and may, at any time, cycle into a downturn; if that occurs, the rate at which it returns to former levels, if ever, will be uncertain. Prior adverse changes in the global economic environment and capital markets and declines in prices for crude oil and natural gas have caused many customers to reduce capital budgets for future periods and have caused decreased demand for crude oil and natural gas. Limitations on the availability of capital, or higher costs of capital, for financing expenditures have caused and may continue to cause customers to make additional reductions to capital budgets in the future even if commodity prices increase from current levels. These cuts in spending may curtail drilling programs and other discretionary spending, which could result in a reduction in business opportunities and demand for our services, the rates we can charge and our utilization. In addition, certain of our customers could become unable to satisfy their contractual commitments, including to us, which could materially and adversely affect our results of operation. These unprecedented conditions also make it more difficult for us to forecast future results.
The fees charged to customers under our agreements for the gathering, transportation or handling of produced water may not escalate sufficiently to cover increases in costs and the agreements may be suspended in some circumstances, which would affect our profitability.
Our costs may increase more rapidly than the fees that we charge to customers pursuant to our contracts with them. For example, the United States has been experiencing a period of cost and wage inflation, as evidenced by increases in the CPI, and inflation is expected to continue in 2023. If inflation and other cost increases, such as the cost for labor, chemical treatment, rental equipment and fuel expenses, continue to outpace the fees we charge to customers, our profit margins will be reduced. Additionally, some customers’ obligations under their agreements with us may be permanently or temporarily reduced upon the occurrence of certain events, some of which are beyond our control, including force majeure events wherein the supply of produced water is curtailed or cut off. Force majeure events include (but are not limited to) revolutions, wars,
acts of enemies, embargoes, import or export restrictions, strikes, lockouts, fires, storms, floods, acts of God, explosions, mechanical or physical failures of our equipment or facilities of our customers. If the escalation of fees is insufficient to cover increased costs, or if any customer suspends or terminates its contracts with us, our profitability could be materially affected.
Constraints in the supply of equipment or materials used in providing services to our customers could affect our ability to execute our growth strategies.
Market conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the international response to each of those events, could trigger constraints in the supply chain of certain equipment, replacement parts for such equipment, or materials, such as chemicals, that we use for providing services to our customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our business. We have heightened risk associated with supply chain constraints where we have a relationship with a single supplier for a particular resource.
We operate in a highly competitive industry, which may intensify as our competitors expand their water supply, produced water recycling, and produced water handling operations, thereby causing us to lose market share, and which could negatively affect our ability to expand our operations.
The Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions businesses are highly competitive and include numerous companies capable of competing effectively in our markets on a local basis. In our Water Solutions business, we compete with landowners, water supply and transfer companies, and companies who engage in the sale or treatment of produced water. Our Produced Water Handling business is in direct and indirect competition with other businesses, including water handling and other produced water treatment businesses. Some of our larger diversified competitors have a similarly broad geographic scope, as well as greater financial and other resources than us, while others focus on specific basins only and may have locally competitive cost efficiencies as a result.
Additionally, there may be new companies that enter the water solutions business, or our existing and potential customers may develop their own water solutions businesses. Our ability to maintain current revenue and cash flows, and our ability to expand our operations, could be adversely affected by the activities of our competitors and our customers. If our competitors substantially increase the resources they devote to the development and marketing of competitive services or substantially decrease the prices at which they offer their services, we may be unable to effectively compete. If our existing and potential customers develop their own water solutions businesses, we may not be able to effectively replace that revenue. All of these competitive pressures could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The oil and gas industry is intensely competitive, and in certain businesses we compete with other companies that have greater resources than us. Many of our larger competitors provide a broader base of services on a regional, national or worldwide basis. These companies may have a greater ability to continue providing water infrastructure services during periods of low commodity prices, to contract for equipment, to secure trained personnel, to secure contracts, permits and rights-of-way and to absorb the burden of present and future federal, state, provincial, local and other laws and regulations (as applicable). Any inability to compete effectively with larger companies could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Growing or adapting our business by constructing new transportation systems and facilities subjects us to construction risks and risks that supplies for such systems and facilities will not be available upon completion thereof.
One of the ways we intend to grow our business is through the construction of expansions to our systems and/or the construction of new produced water pipelines, treatment facilities and water handling facilities. These expansion projects require the expenditure of significant amounts of capital, which may exceed our
resources, and involve numerous regulatory, environmental, political and legal uncertainties, including political opposition by landowners, environmental activists and others. There can be no assurance that we will complete these projects on schedule, or at all, or at the budgeted cost. We could also encounter technical difficulties during the drilling of a disposal well leading to a reduction in capacity or a shorter useful life. Our revenues may not increase upon the expenditure of funds on a particular project. Moreover, we may undertake expansion projects to capture anticipated future growth in production in a region in which anticipated production growth does not materialize or for which we are unable to acquire new customers. As a result, our new facilities and infrastructure may not be able to attract enough demand for our services to achieve our expected investment return, which could materially and adversely affect our consolidated results of operations and financial position. In addition, we may also deem it necessary to construct new wells and related pipelines so as to ensure the desired or required amount of spacing between wells. This can require substantial costs, delays in growth of operations, or risks of entering new areas.
We face opposition to the development or operation of our water pipelines and facilities from various individuals and groups.
We have experienced opposition to the development or operation of our water pipelines and facilities from landowners and other third parties and may in the future face opposition from various individuals or groups such as government officials, environmental groups, tribal groups, local groups and other advocates. Such opposition can take many forms, including the delay or denial of required governmental permits, organized protests, attempts to block or sabotage our operations, intervention in regulatory or administrative proceedings related to our permitting efforts or otherwise involving our assets, or lawsuits or other actions designed to prevent, disrupt or delay the operation of our assets and business. For example, repairing our pipelines often involves securing consent from individual landowners to access their property and provide us with sufficient temporary space to allow us to conduct repairs. One or more landowners may resist our efforts to make needed repairs, which could lead to an interruption in the operation of the affected pipeline or facility for a period of time that is significantly longer than would have otherwise been the case. In addition, acts of sabotage or eco-terrorism could cause significant damage or injury to people, property or the environment or lead to extended interruptions of our operations. Moreover, governmental authorities exercise considerable discretion in the timing and scope of permit issuance and the public may engage in the permitting process, including through intervention in the courts. Negative public perception could cause the permits we require to conduct our operations to be withheld, delayed or burdened by requirements that restrict our ability to profitably conduct our business. Any such event that delays or otherwise interrupts the revenues generated by our operations, or which causes us to make significant expenditures not covered by insurance, could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
There is uncertainty related to the future profitability of the oil and natural gas industry broadly.
Although we are not directly engaged in the extraction of oil and natural gas, produced water is a natural byproduct of crude oil and natural gas production so efforts in the investment community to reduce access to capital markets and pressure lenders to limit funding or increase the cost of lending to companies engaged in the extraction of oil and natural gas may adversely affect our business and limit our access to capital. The negative sentiment toward the oil and natural gas industry compared to other industries has led to lower oil and gas representation in certain key equity market indices. Some investors, including certain pension funds, university endowments and family foundations, have stated policies to reduce or eliminate their investments in the oil and gas sector based on social and environment considerations. Many political and regulatory authorities, along with certain financing sources and well-funded environmental activist groups, are devoting substantial resources and efforts to minimize or eliminate the use of oil and natural gas as a source of electricity, domestically and internationally, thereby reducing the demand and pricing for ancillary services and potentially materially and adversely impacting our future financial results, liquidity, ability to raise capital and growth prospects.
Concerns about the environmental impacts of the oil and natural gas industry, including impacts on global climate, are resulting in increased regulation of GHG emissions, unfavorable lending policies toward the
financing of oil and natural gas operations and divestment efforts affecting the industry and the investment community, which could adversely affect demand for our services. Members of the investment community are also increasing their focus on ESG practices and disclosures, including practices and disclosures related to GHGs and climate change in the energy industry in particular. As a result, we may face increasing pressure regarding our ESG practices and disclosures. We have announced, and may announce in the future, various sustainability or other ESG related commitments, goals or targets that are ambitious and we may be unable to meet such commitments, goals or targets in the manner or on the timeline as initially contemplated, which could expose us to investor scrutiny, government enforcement actions and private litigation. Regardless of our reporting regime or content, certain investors and organizations may publish ratings or views on our sustainability or other ESG efforts or disclosures that are not favorable. This could limit our access to capital, impair our ability to attract talent, and have an adverse impact on our business.
In addition, increasing attention to the risks of climate change has resulted in an increased possibility of lawsuits brought by public and private entities against oil and natural gas operators. If any of our customers are targeted by any such litigation and incur liability, which, to the extent that societal pressures or political or other factors are involved, could be imposed without regard to our causation of or contribution to the asserted damage or to other mitigating factors, demand for our services could be adversely affected.
The ability to attract and retain key members of management, qualified Board members and other key personnel is critical to the success of our business and may be challenging.
Our success will depend to a large extent upon the efforts and abilities of our senior management team and having experienced individuals serving on our Board who are also knowledgeable about our operations and our industry. The success of our business also depends on other key personnel. The ability to attract and retain these key personnel may be difficult in light of the volatility of our business. Acquiring and keeping personnel could prove more difficult or cost substantially more than estimated. These factors could cause us to incur greater costs or prevent us from pursuing our business strategy as quickly as we would otherwise wish to do. If executives or other key personnel resign, retire or are terminated, or their service is otherwise interrupted, we may not be able to replace them adequately or in a timely manner and we could experience significant declines in productivity.
Our industry has experienced a high rate of employee turnover. Any difficulty we experience replacing or adding personnel could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, results of operations and financial condition.
We are dependent upon the available labor pool of skilled employees and may not be able to find enough skilled labor to meet our needs, which could have a negative effect on our growth. We are also subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs such matters as minimum wage, overtime and other working conditions. Our services require skilled workers who can perform physically demanding work. As a result of our industry volatility, pronounced declines in drilling and completions activity, as well as the demanding nature of the work, many workers have left the oilfield services sector to pursue employment in different fields. If we are unable to retain or meet the growing demand for skilled technical personnel, our operating results and our ability to execute our growth strategies may be adversely affected.
The growth of our business through acquisitions may expose us to various risks, including those relating to difficulties in identifying suitable, accretive acquisition opportunities and integrating businesses, assets and personnel, as well as difficulties in obtaining financing for targeted acquisitions and the potential for increased leverage or debt service requirements.
As a component of our business strategy, we pursue acquisitions of assets, businesses and technologies. Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including:
|●||unanticipated costs and assumption of liabilities and exposure to unforeseen liabilities of the acquired business, including but not limited to environmental liabilities;|
|●||difficulties in integrating the operations and assets of the acquired business and the acquired personnel;|
|●||limitations on our ability to properly assess and maintain an effective internal control environment over an acquired business;|
|●||potential losses of key employees and customers of the acquired business;|
|●||risks of entering markets in which we have limited prior experience; and|
|●||increases in our expenses and working capital requirements.|
In evaluating acquisitions, we generally prepare one or more financial cases based on a number of business, industry, economic, legal, regulatory and other assumptions applicable to the proposed transaction. Although we expect a reasonable basis will exist for those assumptions, the assumptions will generally involve current estimates of future conditions. Realization of many of the assumptions will be beyond our control. Moreover, the uncertainty and risk of inaccuracy associated with any financial projection will increase with the length of the forecasted period. Some acquisitions may not be accretive in the near term and will be accretive in the long-term only if we are able to timely and effectively integrate the underlying assets and such assets perform at or near the levels anticipated in our acquisition projections.
The process of integrating an acquired business may involve unforeseen costs and delays or other operational, technical and financial difficulties and may require a significant amount of time and resources. Our failure to successfully incorporate the acquired business and assets into our existing operations or to minimize any unforeseen operational difficulties could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, there is intense competition for acquisition opportunities in our industry. Competition for acquisitions may increase the cost of, or cause us to refrain from, completing acquisitions.
In addition, we may not have sufficient capital resources to complete any additional acquisitions. We may incur substantial indebtedness to finance future acquisitions and also may issue equity, debt or convertible securities in connection with such acquisitions. Debt service requirements could represent a significant burden on our results of operations and financial condition and the issuance of additional equity or convertible securities could be dilutive to our existing equity holders. Furthermore, we may not be able to obtain additional financing on satisfactory terms. Even if we have access to the necessary capital, we may be unable to continue to identify suitable acquisition opportunities, negotiate acceptable terms or successfully acquire identified targets.
Our operations are subject to inherent risks in the oil and gas industry, some of which are beyond our control. These risks may be self-insured, or may not be fully covered under our insurance policies.
Our operations are subject to hazards inherent in the oil and gas industry, such as, but not limited to, accidents and releases of produced water into the environment. These conditions can cause:
|●||disruption in operations;|
|●||substantial repair, workover or remediation costs;|
|●||technical difficulties encountered during disposal well drilling activities that require significant incremental capital expenditure or that render the well unfit for future service;|
|●||personal injury or loss of human life;|
|●||significant damage to or destruction of property, plant and equipment;|
|●||environmental pollution, including groundwater contamination;|
|●||impairment or suspension of operations; and|
|●||substantial revenue loss.|
The occurrence of a significant event or adverse claim in excess of the insurance coverage that we maintain or that is not covered by insurance could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, consolidated results of operations and consolidated financial condition. Any interruption in our services due to pipeline breakdowns or necessary maintenance, workovers or repairs could reduce sales revenues and earnings. In addition, variability of maintenance, workover or repair expense could have a significant negative impact on our gross margin and earnings. Litigation arising from a catastrophic occurrence at a location where our equipment and services are being used may result in our being named as a defendant in lawsuits asserting large claims.
We do not have insurance against all foreseeable risks, either because insurance is not available or because of the high premium costs. The occurrence of an event not fully insured against or the failure of an insurer to meet its insurance obligations could result in substantial losses. In addition, we may not be able to maintain adequate insurance in the future at rates we consider reasonable. Insurance may not be available to cover any or all of the risks to which we are subject, or, even if available, it may be inadequate, or insurance premiums or other costs could rise significantly in the future so as to make such insurance prohibitively expensive.
A loss of one or more significant customers could materially or adversely affect our results of operations.
We expect to continue to depend on a limited number of key customers to support our revenues for the foreseeable future. Any development that materially and adversely affects these customers could result in a reduction in our customers’ spending for our services. Our three largest customers for the year ended December 31, 2022 represented approximately 57% of our revenues. The loss of key customers, failure to renew contracts upon expiration, or a sustained decrease in demand by key customers could result in a substantial loss of revenues and could have a material and adverse effect on our consolidated results of operations.
Because a significant portion of our revenues is derived from ConocoPhillips, any development that materially and adversely affects ConocoPhillips’ operations, financial condition or market reputation could have a material adverse impact on us.
ConocoPhillips is our largest customer, is a significant shareholder in us and is expected to play a significant role in our success. Accordingly, we are indirectly subject to the business risks of ConocoPhillips. Because a significant portion of our revenues is derived from ConocoPhillips, any development that materially and adversely affects ConocoPhillips’ operations, financial condition or market reputation could have a material adverse impact on us. For the year ended December 31, 2022, ConocoPhillips and its affiliates accounted for approximately 34% of our total consolidated revenues. As of December 31, 2022, ConocoPhillips and its affiliates accounted for approximately 36% of our accounts receivable.
Our lack of diversification increases the risk of an investment in us and we are vulnerable to risks associated with operating primarily in one geographic area.
All of our operations are in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, making us vulnerable to risks associated with operating in one geographic area. Due to the concentrated nature of our business activities, a number of our properties could experience any of the same conditions at the same time, resulting in a
relatively greater impact on our results of operations than they might have on other companies that are more diversified. In particular, we may be disproportionately exposed to the impact of regional supply and demand factors, availability of equipment, facilities, personnel or services, significant governmental regulation, natural disasters, adverse weather conditions, water shortages or other drought related conditions. Such delays or interruptions could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Seasonal weather conditions and natural or man-made disasters could severely disrupt normal operations and have an adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.
We operate in the Permian Basin which may be adversely affected by seasonal weather conditions and natural or man-made disasters. During periods of heavy snow, ice, rain or extreme weather conditions such as high winds and tornados or after other natural disasters such as earthquakes or wildfires, we may be unable to access our assets and our facilities may be damaged, thereby reducing our ability to provide services and generate revenues. For example, numerous earthquakes have been recorded recently in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. In addition, hurricanes or other severe weather in areas where we do not operate, such as the Gulf Coast region (including those weather-related events which may be caused or exacerbated by climate change), could seriously disrupt the supply of products and cause serious shortages in various areas, including the areas in which we do operate. Such disruptions could potentially have a material adverse impact on our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
We engage in transactions with related parties and such transactions present possible conflicts of interest that could have an adverse effect on us.
We have historically entered into a number of transactions with related parties. In particular, we have entered into a water gathering and handling agreement with ConocoPhillips, which owned approximately 47% of our Class B common stock and a 22% interest in Solaris LLC (representing approximately 22% of our combined economic interest and voting power), as of December 31, 2022. In addition, a member of our Board of Directors is affiliated with ConocoPhillips. Related party transactions create the possibility of conflicts of interest with regard to our management. Such a conflict could cause an individual in our management to seek to advance his or her economic interests above ours. Further, the appearance of conflicts of interest created by related party transactions could impair the confidence of our investors. Notwithstanding this, it is possible that a conflict of interest could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, results of operations and financial condition. While the indenture that governs our Senior Sustainability-Linked Notes due 2026 places restrictions on our ability to transact with ConocoPhillips, those restrictions are subject to significant exceptions.
The default by customers and counterparties could adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
The deterioration in the financial condition of one or more of our significant customers or counterparties could result in their failure to perform under the terms of their agreement with us or default in the payment owed to us. Our customers and counterparties include crude oil and natural gas producers, equipment suppliers and groundwater suppliers whose creditworthiness may be suddenly and disparately impacted by, among other factors, commodity price volatility, deteriorating energy market conditions, and public and regulatory opposition to energy producing activities. Additionally, we depend on a limited number of customers for a significant portion of our revenues. In 2022, approximately 57% of our total consolidated revenues was generated from three of our customers, of which ConocoPhillips and its affiliates accounted for approximately 34% of total consolidated revenues. The concentration of credit risk may be affected by changes in economic or other conditions within our industry and may accordingly affect our overall credit risk. While we have credit approval procedures and policies in place, we are unable to completely eliminate the performance and credit risk to us associated with doing business with these parties. In a low commodity price environment, certain of our customers have been or could be negatively impacted, causing them significant economic stress resulting, in some cases, in a customer bankruptcy filing or an effort to renegotiate our contracts. The
deterioration in the creditworthiness of our customers and the resulting increase in nonpayment and/or nonperformance by them could cause us to write down or write off accounts receivables or tangible and intangible assets. Such write-downs or write-offs could negatively affect our operating results in the periods in which they occur, and, if significant, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows.
We may not be able to keep pace with technological developments in our industry.
The oil and gas industry is characterized by rapid and significant technological advancements and introductions of new products and services using new technologies. As others use or develop new technologies, we may be placed at a competitive disadvantage, and competitive pressures may force us to implement those new technologies at substantial cost. In addition, other water companies may have greater financial, technical and personnel resources that allow them to enjoy technological advantages and may allow them to implement new technologies before we can. We may not be able to respond to these competitive pressures and implement new technologies on a timely basis or at an acceptable cost. If one or more of the technologies we use now or in the future were to become obsolete or if we are unable to use the most advanced commercially available technology, our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could be adversely affected.
Our initiatives related to the development of technologies for the beneficial reuse of produced water require a substantial investment by us in research and development expenses and may not be successful or achieve market acceptance.
We have incurred significant expenditures to fund our research and development efforts related to the development of technologies for the beneficial reuse of produced water, and we intend to continue those expenditures in the future. However, research and development is by its nature speculative, and there can be no assurances that these expenditures will result in the development of new technology or that any new technology we develop will be commercially marketable or profitable to us. Many of our competitors in the development of such technology are large multinational companies that have significantly greater financial and personnel resources than we have, and they may be able to devote greater resources to research and development of technologies than us. In addition, our ability to compete effectively in the beneficial reuse space may also depend on our ability to obtain patents on proprietary technology. The inability to protect any innovations through patents could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be required to take write-downs of the carrying values of our long-lived assets and finite-lived intangible assets.
We evaluate our long-lived assets, such as property and equipment, and finite-lived intangible assets for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that their carrying value may not be recoverable. Recoverability is measured by a comparison of their carrying amount to the estimated undiscounted cash flows to be generated by those assets. Based on specific market factors and circumstances at the time of prospective impairment reviews and the continuing evaluation of development plans, economics and other factors, we may be required to write down the carrying value of our long-lived and finite-lived intangible assets. For the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, we recognized abandoned well costs of $15.8 million and $28.5 million, respectively, and long-lived asset impairment expense of $15.6 million and none, respectively.
We may be required to take a write-down of the carrying value of goodwill.
We conduct our annual goodwill impairment assessment during the fourth quarter of each year, or more frequently if an event or circumstance indicates that the carrying value of a reporting unit may exceed the fair value. When possible impairment is indicated, we value the implied goodwill to compare it with the carrying amount of goodwill. If the carrying amount of goodwill exceeds its implied fair value, an impairment charge is recorded. We may use a combination of the income approach and the market approach to determine the fair
value of a reporting unit. The fair value of goodwill may be based on estimates and assumptions applied by us such as revenue growth rates, gross margins, weighted average costs of capital, market multiples, and future market conditions and is affected by numerous factors, including the general economic environment and levels of exploration and production activity of oil and gas companies, our financial performance and trends, and our strategies and business plans, among others. As a result of this annual impairment assessment, we may be required to write down the carrying value of goodwill.
We previously identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting and may identify additional material weaknesses in the future or otherwise fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, which may result in material misstatements of our financial statements or cause us to fail to meet our periodic reporting obligations.
Prior to our IPO, we were a private company with limited accounting personnel and other resources with which to address our internal controls and procedures. We identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020 caused by the misapplication of accounting principles related to the estimate of amortization in connection with our intangible assets. We have taken steps to remediate this material weakness and have implemented additional controls around identifying and determining the appropriate amount of amortization to record in connection with intangible assets. A “material weakness” is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal controls such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement in financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.
Although we took steps to remediate the material weakness and the error amount was fully reflected and adjusted in our 2020 year-end financial statements, we can give no assurance that additional material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting will not be identified in the future. Our failure to design, implement and maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in errors in our financial statements that could result in a restatement of our financial statements and cause us to fail to meet our reporting obligations.
Our debt instruments have restrictive covenants that could limit our financial flexibility.
Our Credit Facility and the indenture that governs our Notes contain financial and other restrictive covenants that limit our ability to engage in activities that may be in our long-term best interests. Our ability to borrow under our Credit Facility is subject to compliance with certain financial covenants, including leverage and interest coverage ratios. Our Credit Facility and the indenture that governs our Notes include other restrictions that, among other things limit our ability to:
|●||engage in mergers, consolidations and liquidations;|
|●||make asset dispositions, restricted payments and investments;|
|●||enter into transactions with affiliates; and|
|●||amend, modify or prepay certain indebtedness.|
Our business plan and our compliance with these covenants are based on a number of assumptions, the most important of which is relatively stable oil and gas production, including our customers’ planned development and production activity remaining consistent with their communications with us, relatively predictable costs for our capital improvements, a materially consistent legal and regulatory environment, and
increased demand for recycled water along with margin improvements. The significant deterioration of oil and gas production or our customers’ development activity from current levels, higher capital expenditures or reduced recycling and higher operating costs could lead to lower revenues, cash flows and earnings, which in turn could lead to a default under certain financial covenants contained in the Credit Facility. Our leverage may also make our results of operations more susceptible to adverse economic and industry conditions by limiting our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and the industry in which we operate and may place us at a competitive disadvantage as compared to our competitors that have less debt. See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations ─ Debt Agreements.
Our failure to comply with these covenants could result in an event of default that, if not cured or waived, could result in the acceleration of all of our debts. We may not have sufficient working capital to satisfy our debt obligations in the event of an acceleration of all or a significant portion of our outstanding indebtedness. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our leverage may limit our ability to borrow additional funds, comply with the terms of our indebtedness or capitalize on business opportunities.
Our leverage may adversely affect our ability to fund future working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate requirements, future acquisitions, construction or development activities, or to otherwise fully realize the value of our assets and opportunities because of the need to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness or to comply with any restrictive terms of our indebtedness. Other companies with which we compete may have greater liquidity, more unencumbered assets, less indebtedness, greater access to credit and other financial resources, lower cost structures, more effective risk management policies and procedures, greater ability to incur losses, longer-standing relationships with customers, or greater potential for profitability than we do.
Constructing and maintaining water infrastructure used in the oil and gas industry requires significant capital. We may require additional capital in the future to develop and construct water handling, sourcing, transfer and other related infrastructure to execute our growth strategy. For the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, cash capital expenditures were $146.5 million, and $74.7 million, respectively. Historically, we have financed these investments through cash flows from operations, external borrowings and equity capital contributions. These sources of capital may not be available to us in the future. The inability to obtain additional financing to operate our business or capitalize on business opportunities, whether because of the restrictions set forth above or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Increases in interest rates could adversely impact the price of our shares, our ability to issue equity or incur debt for acquisitions or other purposes.
In March 2022, the Federal Reserve began, and is expected to continue, to raise interest rates in an effort to curb inflation. In this environment, interest rates on future borrowings, credit facilities and debt offerings could be higher than current levels, causing our financing costs to increase accordingly. Changes in interest rates, either positive or negative, may also affect the yield requirements of investors who invest in our shares, and the rising interest rate environment could have an adverse impact on the price of our shares, or our ability to issue equity or incur debt for acquisitions or other purposes.
Our business is difficult to evaluate because we have a limited operating history.
We were formed in May 2021 and do not have historical financial operating results prior to the IPO. For purposes of this Annual Report, our accounting predecessor is Solaris LLC, which was formed in November 2015. Except as expressly noted otherwise, our historical financial information and operational data described in this Annual Report is that of Solaris LLC and its consolidated subsidiaries. As a result, there is only limited historical financial and operating information available upon which to base an evaluation of our performance.
The risk of terrorism and political unrest in various energy producing regions may adversely affect the economy and the price and availability of oil and natural gas.
The occurrence or threat of terrorist attacks in any of the major energy producing regions of the world or elsewhere, anti-terrorist efforts and other armed conflicts involving the U.S. or other countries, including continued hostilities in the Middle East, may adversely affect the U.S. and global economies and could result in disruptions in the supply of crude oil and natural gas. For example, the ongoing conflict, and the continuation of, or any increase in the severity of, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, has led and may continue to lead to an increase in the volatility of global oil and natural gas prices. Such disruptions could have a material impact on both availability and price of oil and natural gas and could prevent us from meeting our financial and other obligations. Additionally, destructive forms of protest and opposition by extremists and other disruptions, including acts of sabotage or eco-terrorism, against oil and natural gas development and production activities could potentially result in personal injury to persons, damages to property, natural resources or the environment, or lead to extended interruptions of our or our customers’ operations. If any of these events occur, the resulting political instability and societal disruption could reduce overall demand for oil and gas, potentially putting downward pressure on demand for our services and causing a reduction in our revenues. Oil and gas related facilities could be direct targets of terrorist attacks, and our operations could be adversely impacted if infrastructure integral to our customers’ operations is destroyed or damaged. Costs for insurance and other security may increase as a result of these threats, and some insurance coverage may become more difficult to obtain, if available at all.
We are subject to cybersecurity attacks on any of our facilities or those of third parties. A cyber incident could occur and result in information theft, data corruption, operational disruption and/or financial loss.
The oil and gas industry has become increasingly dependent on digital technologies to conduct certain processing activities. For example, we depend on digital technologies to perform many of our services and to process and record financial and operating data. At the same time, cyber incidents, including deliberate attacks or unintentional events, have increased. The U.S. government has issued public warnings that indicate that energy assets might be specific targets of cybersecurity threats. Our technologies, systems and networks, and those of our vendors, suppliers and other business partners, may become the target of cyber attacks or information security breaches that could result in the unauthorized release, gathering, monitoring, misuse, loss or destruction of proprietary and other information, or other disruption of business operations. In addition, certain cyber incidents, such as surveillance, may remain undetected for an extended period. Our financial results could also be adversely affected if an employee causes our systems to fail, either as a result of inadvertent error or by deliberately tampering with or manipulating our systems. In addition, dependence upon automated systems may further increase the risk related to operational system flaws, and employee tampering or manipulation of those systems will result in losses that are difficult to detect. Further, the increasing prevalence of remote work arrangements among our own employees and those of third parties may increase the risk of cyber incidents. Our systems for protecting against cybersecurity risks may not be sufficient. As cyber incidents continue to evolve, we may be required to expend additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any vulnerability to cyber incidents. Our insurance coverage for cyber attacks may not be sufficient to cover all the losses we may experience as a result of such cyber attacks. A cyber attack or security breach could result in liability under data privacy laws, regulatory penalties, damage to our reputation or loss of confidence in us, or
additional costs for remediation and modification or enhancement of our information systems to prevent future occurrences, all of which could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
Risks Related to Our Legal and Regulatory Environment
Restrictions on the ability to procure water or changes in water sourcing requirements could decrease the demand for our services.
Our business includes water transfer for use in our customers’ oil and gas E&P activities. Our access to the water we supply may be limited due to reasons such as prolonged drought or our inability to acquire or maintain water sourcing permits or other rights. In addition, some state and local governmental authorities have begun to monitor or restrict the use of water subject to their jurisdiction for hydraulic fracturing to ensure adequate local water supply. For instance, some states require E&P companies to report certain information regarding the water they use for hydraulic fracturing and to monitor the quality of groundwater surrounding some wells stimulated by hydraulic fracturing. Any such decrease in the availability of water, or demand for water services, could adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Legislation or regulatory initiatives intended to address seismic activity could restrict our ability to recycle or handle produced water gathered from our E&P customers and, accordingly, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Recent seismic events in the U.S. near underground disposal wells used for the disposal by injection of produced water resulting from oil and gas activities, including recent seismic events occurring in the Permian Basin near Midland, Texas, have led to concerns of the public or governmental authorities regarding disposal activities. In response to concerns regarding induced seismicity, regulators in some states have imposed, or are considering imposing, additional requirements in the permitting of produced water disposal wells to assess any relationship between seismicity and the use of such wells. Among other things, these rules require companies seeking permits for disposal wells to provide seismic activity data in permit applications, provide for more frequent monitoring and reporting for certain wells and allow the state to modify, suspend or terminate permits on grounds that a disposal well is likely to be, or determined to be, causing seismic activity. States have issued orders to temporarily shut down or to curtail the injection depth of existing wells in the vicinity of seismic events. Increased regulation and attention given to induced seismicity could also lead to greater opposition, including litigation that limits or prohibits oil and natural gas activities utilizing injection wells for produced water disposal.
We currently operate in the states of New Mexico and Texas, where the NMOCD and TRC have recently addressed seismic activity in their respective states by curtailing injected volumes and/or suspending certain permits for disposal wells injecting into deep strata. See Items 1. and 2. Business and Properties ─ Regulation ─ Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health Matters ─ Water handling facilities and seismicity for recent changes in regulations.
We currently operate wells in the SRAs in Texas and New Mexico. Should the TRC take additional action in the existing SRAs or establish new SRAs near our operations, it could have a significant adverse effect on our business. Additionally, the adoption and implementation of any new laws, regulations or directives that restrict our ability to dispose of produced water gathered from our customers by limiting volumes, disposal rates, disposal well locations or otherwise, or requiring us to shut down disposal wells, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations. See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Results of Operations ─ General Trends and Outlook ─ Seismicity for a discussion of the impact on our business.
Additional potential consequences of seismic activity are lawsuits alleging that disposal well operations have caused damage to neighboring properties or otherwise violated state and federal rules regulating waste disposal. These developments could result in additional regulation and restrictions on the use of injection
wells. Increased regulation and attention given to induced seismicity could lead to greater opposition to oil and gas activities utilizing injection wells for waste disposal. The adoption and implementation of any new laws, regulations or directives that restrict our ability to recycle or handle produced water gathered from our customers by limiting volumes, disposal rates, disposal well locations or otherwise, or requiring us to shut down disposal wells, or our inability to serve our customers as required by our contracts, could result in asset impairment and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In the future we may face increased obligations relating to the closing of our produced water handling facilities and may be required to provide an increased level of financial assurance to guarantee the appropriate closure activities occur for a produced water handling facility.
Obtaining a permit to own or operate produced water handling facilities generally requires us to establish performance bonds, letters of credit or other forms of financial assurance to address clean-up and closure obligations. As we acquire additional produced water handling facilities or construct additional produced water handling facilities, these obligations will increase. Additionally, in the future, regulatory agencies may require us to increase the amount of our closure bonds at existing produced water handling facilities. Asset retirement obligations related to future closure obligations of our produced water handling facilities totaled $19.8 million as of December 31, 2022. Moreover, actual costs could exceed our current expectations, as a result of, among other things, federal, state or local government regulatory action, increased costs charged by service providers that assist in closing produced water handling facilities and additional environmental remediation requirements. The obligation to satisfy increased regulatory requirements associated with our produced water handling facilities could result in an increase of our operating costs and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial position and results of operations.
Our sales of groundwater and our gathering, handling and recycling of produced water expose us to potential regulatory risks.
There are unique risks associated with recycling and/or handling produced water and the legal requirements related to handling produced water, or the disposal of produced water into a non-producing geologic formation by means of underground injection wells, are subject to change based on concerns of the public or governmental authorities. There remains substantial uncertainty regarding the disposal of produced water by means of underground injection wells, which could result in substantial additional liabilities or costs to us that cannot be predicted. These include liabilities related to the handling, treatment, storage, disposal, transport, release and use of radioactive materials, which could be in produced water received from our oil and natural gas producer customers, and uncertainties regarding the ultimate, and potential exposure to, technical and financial risks associated with modifying or decommissioning produced water handling facilities. Federal or state regulatory agencies could require the shutdown of produced water handling facilities for safety reasons or refuse to permit restart of any facility after unplanned or planned outages. New or amended safety requirements and regulatory laws may give rise to additional operation and maintenance costs and capital expenditures. Additionally, aging equipment may require more capital expenditures to keep each of these produced water handling facilities operating efficiently or in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This equipment is also likely to require periodic upgrading and improvement in order to maintain compliance and probability. Although the safety record of produced water handling generally has been very good, accidents and other unforeseen problems have occurred. The consequences of a major incident could be severe and include loss of life and property damage. Any resulting liability from a major environmental or catastrophic incident could exceed our resources, including insurance coverage.
Fuel conservation measures could reduce demand for oil and natural gas which would, in turn, reduce the demand for our services.
Fuel conservation measures, alternative fuel requirements and increasing consumer demand for alternatives to oil and natural gas could reduce demand for oil and natural gas. The impact of the changing demand for oil and natural gas may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, prospects, results of
operations and cash flows. Additionally, the increased competitiveness of alternative energy sources (such as wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, fuel cells and biofuels) could reduce demand for hydrocarbons and therefore for our services, which would lead to a reduction in our revenues.
We may be subject to claims for personal injury and property damage, which could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We operate with most of our customers under water services agreements that endeavor to allocate potential liabilities and risks between the parties. As part of that allocation, we generally agree to certain indemnification obligations in connection with the services we provide, such as agreeing to indemnify our customers for liabilities arising from personal injury to or death of any of our employees, unless resulting from gross negligence or willful misconduct of the customer, and agreeing to indemnify our customers for loss or destruction of property or equipment we own. Even if our customers agree to indemnify us in certain cases as part of the potential liability and risk allocation in our agreement, we may nevertheless have liability in such cases if we are negligent or commit willful acts. We may also not succeed in enforcing the contractual allocation of potential liability and risk in our agreements, we may incur an unforeseen liability falling outside the scope of such allocation or we may be required to enter into a water services agreement in which such allocation is otherwise unfavorable to us. As a result, we may incur substantial losses which could materially and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Unsatisfactory safety performance may negatively affect our customer relationships and, to the extent we fail to retain existing customers or attract new customers, adversely impact our revenues.
Our ability to retain existing customers and attract new business is dependent on many factors, including our ability to demonstrate that we can reliably and safely operate our business and stay current on constantly changing rules, regulations, training and laws. Existing and potential customers consider the safety record of their service providers to be of high importance in their decision to engage third-party services. If one or more accidents were to occur at one of our operating sites, the affected customer may seek to terminate or cancel its use of our facilities or services and may be less likely to continue to use our services, which could cause us to lose substantial revenues. Further, our ability to attract new customers may be impaired if they elect not to purchase our third-party services because they view our safety record as unacceptable. In addition, it is possible that we will experience numerous or particularly severe accidents in the future, causing our safety record to deteriorate. This may be more likely as we continue to grow, if we experience high employee turnover or labor shortage, or add inexperienced personnel.
We are subject to environmental and occupational health and safety laws and regulations that may expose us to significant liabilities for penalties, damages or costs of remediation or compliance.
Our operations and the operations of our customers are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations in the U.S. relating to protection of natural resources and the environment, health and safety aspects of our operations and waste management, including the disposal of waste and other materials. These laws and regulations may impose numerous obligations on our operations and the operations of our customers, including the acquisition of permits to take fresh water from surface and underground sources, construct pipelines or containment facilities, drill wells or conduct other regulated activities, the incurrence of capital expenditures to mitigate or prevent releases of materials from our facilities or from customer locations where we are providing services, the imposition of substantial liabilities for pollution resulting from our operations, and the application of specific health and safety criteria addressing worker protection. Any failure on our part or the part of our customers to comply with these laws and regulations could result in the impairment or cancellation of operations, assessment of sanctions, including administrative, civil and criminal penalties, injunctions, reputational damage, the imposition of investigatory, remedial, and corrective action obligations or the incurrence of capital expenditures; the occurrence of restrictions, delays or cancellations in the permitting, development or expansion of projects; and the issuance of injunctions restricting or prohibiting some or all of our activities in a particular area.
Our business activities present risks of incurring significant environmental regulatory compliance costs and liabilities, including costs and liabilities resulting from our handling of byproducts of the oil and natural gas production process, because of air emissions and produced water discharges related to our operations. Our businesses include the operation of recycling facilities and oilfield waste disposal injection wells that pose risks of environmental liability, including leakage or accidental spills from the wells to surface or subsurface soils, surface water or groundwater. In addition, private parties, including the owners of properties upon which we perform services and facilities where our wastes are taken for recycling or disposal, also may have the right to pursue legal actions to enforce compliance as well as to seek damages for non-compliance with environmental laws and regulations or for personal injury or property or natural resource damages. Some environmental laws and regulations may impose strict and/or joint and several liability, which means that in some situations we could be exposed to liability as a result of our conduct that was lawful at the time it occurred or the conduct of, or conditions (such as environmental contamination) caused by, prior operators or other third parties. Remedial costs and other damages arising as a result of environmental laws and costs associated with changes in environmental laws and regulations could be substantial and could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, results of operations and financial condition.
Over time, laws and regulations protecting the environment generally have the tendency to become more stringent, potentially leading to material increases in costs for future environmental compliance and remediation. The adoption of any new laws or regulations, amendment of existing laws and regulations, changes in interpretation of legal requirements or increased enforcement could restrict, delay or cancel exploratory or developmental drilling for oil and gas and could limit well servicing opportunities. We may not be able to recover some or any of our costs of compliance with these laws and regulations from insurance.
Climate change legislation, laws and regulations restricting GHG emissions, promoting the development of alternative sources of energy, prohibiting, restricting, or delaying oil and gas development on public lands, or legal or other action taken by public or private entities related to climate change could force our customers to incur increased capital and operating costs and could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, as well as our reputation.
In recent years, international, federal, state and local governments have taken steps to reduce GHG emissions. The EPA has finalized a series of GHG monitoring, reporting and emissions control rules for the oil and natural gas industry, and the U.S. Congress has, from time to time, considered adopting legislation to reduce emissions. Given the long-term trend toward increasing regulation, future federal GHG regulations of the oil and gas industry remain a possibility, and states in the US have taken measures to reduce GHG emissions primarily through the development of GHG emission inventories and/or regional GHG cap-and-trade programs.
During 2022, the administration has focused on addressing climate change and is likely to take executive action or support legislation in furtherance of achieving certain GHG emissions goals. In February 2021, the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement. In April 2021, President Biden set a new goal for the United States to achieve a 50-52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net GHG pollution in 2030. Further, in November 2021, the United States and other countries entered into the Glasgow Climate Pact, which includes a range of measures designed to address climate change, including but not limited to the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, reducing methane emissions 30% by 2030, and cooperating toward the advancement of the development of clean energy. In August 2022, the Inflationary Reduction Act of 2022 was enacted and included a $369 billion investment in modernizing the American energy system. The legislation is aimed at helping the United States to achieve the 50-52% reduction of GHGs from 2005 levels by 2030. The adoption of legislation or regulatory programs or other government action to reduce emissions of GHGs or restrict, delay or prohibit oil and gas development on public lands could require our customers and us to incur increased operating costs, such as costs to purchase and operate emissions control systems, to acquire emissions allowances or to comply with new regulatory or reporting requirements, or prevent us from conducting operations in certain areas. Any such legislation or regulatory programs could also increase the cost of consuming, and thereby reduce demand for, the oil and gas our customers produce. Consequently,
legislation and regulatory programs to reduce emissions of GHGs could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
In addition, some scientists have concluded that increasing concentrations of GHGs in the Earth’s atmosphere may produce climate changes that have significant physical effects, such as increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts, floods and other climatic events. If such climatic events were to occur more frequently or with greater intensity, our customers’ exploration and development activities could be adversely affected, as these events could cause a loss of production from temporary cessation of activity or damaged facilities and equipment. If any such events were to occur, they could have an adverse effect on the demand for our services and our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. For a more complete discussion of environmental laws and regulations intended to address climate change and their impact on our business and operations, see Items 1. and 2. Business and Properties ─ Regulation ─ Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health Matters.
There have also been efforts in recent years to influence the investment community, including investment advisors and certain sovereign wealth, pension and endowment funds, as well as other stakeholders, promoting divestment of fossil fuel equities and pressuring lenders to limit funding to companies engaged in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves. Such environmental activism and initiatives aimed at limiting climate change and reducing air pollution could reduce the demand for our services and interfere with our customers’ business activities and operations.
A portion of our customers’ oil and gas leases are granted by the federal government. To the extent such leases are suspended or terminated, or we or our customers are unable to obtain permits or right-of-way grants required for operations on such leases, our operations could be materially affected.
A portion of our customers’ leases in New Mexico are granted by the federal government and administered by the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”), a federal agency. Operations conducted by us and our customers on federal oil and gas leases must comply with numerous additional statutory and regulatory restrictions, including permitting obligations. In addition, the U.S. Department of the Interior (via various of its agencies, including the BLM and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue) has certain authority over our activities on federal and tribal lands. These leases contain relatively standardized terms requiring compliance with detailed regulations. Under certain circumstances, the BLM may require operations on federal leases to be suspended or terminated or may deny permits or right-of-way grants required for operations on such leases. Any such suspension or termination, or inability to obtain required permits or right-of-way grants, could materially and adversely affect our interests.
Additionally, as noted above, the Biden Administration has taken several actions to curtail oil and gas activities on federal lands, including, for example, taking a pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or in offshore waters. Although the Department of the Interior has resumed processing oil and gas drilling permits, we cannot guarantee that further action will not be taken that could curtail or limit oil and gas development on federal land.
Further, environmental incidents such as the Macondo well incident could result in similar drilling moratoria, and could result in increased federal, state, and international regulation of our and our customers’ operations that could negatively impact our earnings, prospects and the availability and cost of insurance coverage. Any additional regulation of the exploration and production industry as a whole could result in fewer companies being financially qualified to operate offshore or onshore in the U.S. or in non-U.S. jurisdictions, resulting in higher operating costs for our customers and reduced demand for our products and services.
Federal state and local legislation and regulatory initiatives relating to hydraulic fracturing, as well as governmental reviews of such activities, could result in increased costs and additional operating restrictions, delays or cancellations in the drilling and completion of oil and gas wells that may reduce demand for our services and could have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, consolidated results of operations and consolidated financial condition.
We do not conduct hydraulic fracturing operations, but many of our customers’ oil and natural gas production operations require hydraulic fracturing as part of the well completion process. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of water, sand or other propping agents and chemicals under pressure into rock formations to stimulate oil and gas production. Although certain aspects of hydraulic fracturing operations, including the use of diesel fuel in fracturing fluids, capture of volatile organic compounds released during hydraulic fracturing and discharge of wastewater, are subject to current guidance or regulation, Congress has not adopted legislation to provide for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing; however, President Biden could seek to pursue legislative, regulatory or executive initiatives that restrict hydraulic fracturing activities, though we cannot predict when or the scope of any such legislation at this time.
In addition, a number of states and local regulatory authorities and federal politicians are considering or have implemented more stringent regulatory requirements applicable to hydraulic fracturing, including bans/moratoria on drilling that effectively prohibit further production of oil and gas through the use of hydraulic fracturing or similar operations.
The adoption of new laws or regulations imposing reporting or operational obligations on, or otherwise limiting or prohibiting, the hydraulic fracturing process could make it more difficult for our customers to complete oil and gas wells in unconventional plays. In addition, if hydraulic fracturing becomes regulated at the federal level as a result of federal legislation or regulatory initiatives by the EPA, hydraulic fracturing activities could become subject to additional permitting requirements, and also to attendant permitting delays and potential increases in cost, which could adversely affect the demand for our services and results of operations.
Restrictions on drilling and related activities intended to protect certain species of wildlife or their habitat may adversely affect our customers’ ability to conduct drilling and related activities in some of the areas where we operate.
Various federal and state statutes prohibit certain actions that harm endangered or threatened species and their habitats, migratory birds, wetlands and natural resources. These statutes include the ESA, the MBTA, the BGEPA, the CWA, CERCLA and the OPA. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may designate critical habitat and suitable habitat areas that it believes are necessary for survival of threatened or endangered species. A critical habitat or suitable habitat designation could result in further material restrictions to federal land use and private land use and could delay or prohibit our customers’ land access or oil and gas development. If adverse impact to species or damages to wetlands, habitat or natural resources occur or may occur as result of our or our customers’ activities, government entities or, at times, private parties may act to prevent such activities or seek damages for harm to species, habitat or natural resources resulting from our activities or our customers’ drilling, construction or releases of oil, wastes, hazardous substances or other regulated materials, which could reduce the demand for our services.
For example, there have been repeated calls for the USFWS to list the dunes sagebrush lizard, which is found only in the active and semi-stable shinnery oak dunes of Southeastern New Mexico and adjacent portions of Texas, including areas where we operate. The lesser prairie-chicken, which can also be found in areas where we operate, was listed under the ESA effective January 24, 2023.
Although the dunes sagebrush lizard has not yet been listed under the ESA, to the extent the lesser prairie-chicken or other species are listed under the ESA or similar state laws, or previously unprotected species are designated as threatened or endangered in areas where our assets and operations are located, operations in those areas could incur increased costs arising from species protection measures and face delays or limitations with respect to production activities thereon.
Delays or restrictions in obtaining or renewing permits by us for our operations or by our customers for their operations could impair our business.
Our operations and the operations of our oil and gas producing customers typically require that we and our customers obtain and maintain a number of permits from one or more governmental agencies in order to perform drilling and completion activities, secure water rights, construct impoundments tanks, and construct and operate pipelines, handling facilities and recycling facilities. Many of these permits require a significant amount of monitoring, record keeping and reporting in order to demonstrate compliance with the underlying permit. Noncompliance or incomplete documentation of our compliance status may result in the imposition of fines, penalties and injunctive relief. Such permits are typically issued by state agencies, but federal and local governmental permits may also be required. As of December 31, 2022, we had permits for (i) 205 miles of pipelines, (ii) 42 produced water handling facilities and (iii) 5 recycling facilities that, in each case, have not been constructed. We may not be able to achieve commercial operations on any particular permitted site. A decision by a governmental agency to deny or delay the renewal of any of these permits or other approval, or to revoke or substantially modify an existing permit or other approval, could adversely affect our ability to initiate or complete construction of any of these pipelines or facilities and we can provide no assurance that we will complete these projects on schedule, or at all. Additionally, these permits were issued pursuant to existing laws and regulations that are subject to change, which could result in the imposition of more stringent requirements and impair our ability to initiate or complete the construction of these pipelines and facilities.
In addition, some of our customers’ drilling and completion activities in the U.S. may take place on federal land or Native American lands, requiring leases and other approvals from the federal government or Native American tribes to conduct such drilling and completion activities. Under certain circumstances, federal agencies may cancel proposed leases for federal lands and refuse to grant or delay required approvals. Therefore, our customers’ operations in certain areas of the U.S. may be interrupted or suspended for varying lengths of time, causing a loss of revenue to us and adversely affecting our results of operations in support of those customers.
Risks Related to the Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock
We are a holding company. Our sole material asset is our equity interest in Solaris LLC and we are accordingly dependent upon distributions from Solaris LLC to pay taxes, make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement and cover our corporate and other overhead expenses.
We are a holding company and have no material assets other than our equity interest in Solaris LLC. See Items 1. and 2. Business and Property ─ Organizational Structure and Corporate Information ─ Corporate Reorganization. We have no independent means of generating revenue. To the extent Solaris LLC has available cash, we intend to cause Solaris LLC to make (i) generally pro rata advance distributions to Aris Inc. in an amount at least sufficient to allow us to pay our taxes, (ii) non-pro rata advance distributions to allow us to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement we have entered into with the TRA Holders and any subsequent tax receivable agreements that we may enter into in connection with future acquisitions and (iii) non-pro rata payments to us to reimburse us for our corporate and other overhead expenses. To the extent that we need funds and Solaris LLC or its subsidiaries are restricted from making such distributions or payments under applicable law or regulation or under the terms of the credit facility, the indenture governing the Notes or any future financing arrangements, or are otherwise unable to provide such funds, our liquidity and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.
Moreover, because we have no independent means of generating revenue, our ability to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement is dependent on the ability of Solaris LLC to make distributions to us in an amount sufficient to cover our obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement. This ability, in turn, may depend on the ability of Solaris LLC’s subsidiaries to make distributions to it. The ability of Solaris LLC, its subsidiaries and other entities in which it directly or indirectly holds an equity interest to make such distributions will be subject to, among other things, (i) the applicable provisions of Delaware law (or other applicable jurisdiction) that may limit the amount of funds available for distribution and (ii) restrictions in
relevant debt instruments issued by Solaris LLC or its subsidiaries and/other entities in which it directly or indirectly holds an equity interest. To the extent that we are unable to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement for any reason, such payments will be deferred and will accrue interest until paid.
For as long as we are an emerging growth company, we will not be required to comply with certain reporting requirements, including those relating to accounting standards and disclosure about our executive compensation, that apply to other public companies.
We are classified as an “emerging growth company” under the JOBS Act. For as long as we are an emerging growth company, we will not be required to, among other things: (i) provide an auditor’s attestation report on management’s assessment of the effectiveness of our system of internal control over financial reporting pursuant to Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act; (ii) comply with any new requirements if adopted by the PCAOB requiring mandatory audit firm rotation or a supplement to the auditor’s report in which the auditor would be required to provide additional information about the audit and the financial statements of the issuer; (iii) provide certain disclosures regarding executive compensation required of larger public companies; or (iv) hold nonbinding advisory votes on executive compensation. We will remain an emerging growth company up until the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of our IPO, or such earlier time that we have more than $1.235 billion of revenues in a fiscal year, have more than $700.0 million in market value of our common stock held by non-affiliates (and have been a public company for at least 12 months), or issue more than $1.0 billion of non-convertible debt over a three-year period.
To the extent that we rely on any of the exemptions available to emerging growth companies, there will be less information available about our executive compensation and internal control over financial reporting than issuers that are not emerging growth companies. If some investors find our Class A common stock to be less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our Class A common stock and our stock price may be more volatile.
In addition, once we are no longer an emerging growth company, compliance with rules and regulations that do not currently apply to us as an emerging growth company may increase our compliance costs, may make some activities more difficult or time-consuming, and may otherwise strain our systems and resources and distract management.
Our principal stockholders collectively hold a substantial portion of the voting power of our common stock.
Holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock will vote together as a single class on all matters presented to our stockholders for their vote or approval, except as otherwise required by applicable law or our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. As of December 31, 2022, the Legacy Owners of Solaris LLC own 100% of our Class B common stock equating to a 48% economic and voting power interest in Solaris LLC of which, (i) ConocoPhillips owns approximately 47% of our Class B common stock and an approximate 22% economic interest and voting power and (ii) Yorktown Energy Partners XI, L.P. (“Yorktown”) owns approximately 37% of our Class B common stock and an approximate 18% economic interest and voting power.
Although the owners of our Class B common stock are entitled to act separately in their own respective interests with respect to their ownership in us, if they choose to act in concert, they will together have the ability to strongly influence all matters requiring stockholder approval, including mergers and other material transactions, as well as the composition of our Board or a change in control of our company that could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their Class A common stock as part of a sale of our company. The existence of significant stockholders may also have the effect of deterring hostile takeovers, delaying or preventing changes in control or changes in management, or limiting the ability of our other stockholders to approve transactions that they may deem to be in the best interests of our company.
In addition, we entered into a director nomination agreement with affiliates of ConocoPhillips and Yorktown in connection with the closing of the IPO. The director nomination agreement provided such holders with the right, but not the obligation, to nominate directors for election to our Board as follows: (i) ConocoPhillips has the right to nominate one nominee for election to our Board for so long as ConocoPhillips and its affiliates beneficially own at least 12.5% of the voting power of our common stock and such nominee will be a Class III director and (ii) Yorktown has the right to nominate one nominee for election to our Board for so long as Yorktown and its affiliates beneficially own at least 12.5% of the voting power of our common stock and such nominee will be a Class I director. In addition, each of ConocoPhillips and Yorktown are entitled to designate the successor for its respective Board designee whose Board service terminates prior to the end of the director’s term. The rights of each of ConocoPhillips and Yorktown will terminate on the date when such holder ceases to beneficially own at least 12.5% of the voting power of our common stock (or earlier upon written notice by such holder agreeing to terminate its rights under the agreement).
So long as the owners of our Class B common stock continue to control a significant amount of our common stock, each will continue to be able to strongly influence all matters requiring stockholder approval, regardless of whether or not other stockholders believe that a potential transaction is in their own best interests. In any of these matters, the interests of the owners of our Class B common stock may differ or conflict with the interests of our other stockholders. In addition, certain of the owners of our Class B common stock and their respective affiliates may, from time to time, acquire interests in businesses that directly or indirectly compete with our business, as well as businesses that are significant existing or potential customers. Such owners of our Class B common stock and their respective affiliates may acquire or seek to acquire assets that we seek to acquire and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us or may be more expensive for us to pursue. Moreover, this concentration of stock ownership may also adversely affect the trading price of our Class A common stock to the extent investors perceive a disadvantage in owning stock of a company with significant stockholders.
Certain of our directors have significant duties with, and spend significant time serving, entities that may compete with us in seeking acquisitions and business opportunities and, accordingly, may have conflicts of interest in allocating time or pursuing business opportunities.
Certain of our directors hold positions of responsibility with other entities (including affiliated entities) that are in the oil and natural gas industry. These directors may become aware of business opportunities that may be appropriate for presentation to us as well as to the other entities with which they are or may become affiliated. Due to these existing and potential future affiliations, they may present potential business opportunities to other entities prior to presenting them to us, which could cause additional conflicts of interest. They may also decide that certain opportunities are more appropriate for other entities with which they are affiliated, and as a result, they may elect not to present those opportunities to us. These conflicts may not be resolved in our favor.
Certain Designated Parties are not limited in their ability to compete with us, and the corporate opportunity provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation could enable such Designated Parties and their respective affiliates to benefit from corporate opportunities that might otherwise be available to us.
Our governing documents provide that Yorktown and COG Operating LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, and their respective interests in other entities and affiliates (collectively, the “Designated Parties”) are not restricted from owning assets or engaging in businesses that compete directly or indirectly with us.
In particular, subject to the limitations of applicable law, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, among other things:
|●||permits such Designated Parties to conduct business that competes with us and to make investments in any kind of property in which we may make investments; and|
|●||provides that if such Designated Parties, or any employee, partner, member, manager, officer or director of such Designated Parties who is also one of our directors, becomes aware of a potential business opportunity, transaction or other matter, they will have no duty to communicate or offer that opportunity to us.|
The Designated Parties may become aware, from time to time, of certain business opportunities (such as acquisition opportunities) and may direct such opportunities to other businesses in which they have invested, in which case we may not become aware of or otherwise have the ability to pursue such opportunity. Furthermore, such businesses may choose to compete with us for these opportunities, possibly causing these opportunities to not be available to us or causing them to be more expensive for us to pursue.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws, as well as Delaware law, contain provisions that could discourage acquisition bids or merger proposals, which may adversely affect the market price of our Class A common stock and could deprive our investors of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation authorizes our Board to issue preferred stock without stockholder approval in one or more series, designate the number of shares constituting any series, and fix the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions thereof, including dividend rights, voting rights, rights and terms of redemption, redemption price or prices and liquidation preferences of such series. If our Board elects to issue preferred stock, it could be more difficult for a third party to acquire us. In addition, some provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire control of us, even if the change of control would be beneficial to our stockholders. These provisions include:
|●||dividing our Board into three classes of directors, with each class serving staggered three-year terms;|
|●||providing that all vacancies, including newly created directorships, shall, except as otherwise required by law or, if applicable, the rights of holders of a series of preferred stock, only be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of directors then in office, even if less than a quorum (prior to such time, vacancies may also be filled by stockholders holding a majority of the outstanding shares);|
|●||permitting any action by stockholders to be taken only at an annual meeting or special meeting rather than by a written consent of the stockholders, subject to the rights of any series of preferred stock with respect to such rights;|
|●||permitting special meetings of our stockholders to be called only by our Board pursuant to a resolution adopted by the affirmative vote of a majority of the total number of authorized directors whether or not there exist any vacancies in previously authorized directorships;|
|●||requiring the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% in voting power of all then outstanding common stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors, voting together as a single class, to remove any or all of the directors from office at any time, and directors will be removable only for “cause”;|
|●||prohibiting cumulative voting in the election of directors;|
|●||establishing advance notice provisions for stockholder proposals and nominations for elections to the Board to be acted upon at meetings of stockholders;|
|●||requiring the approval of the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% of all then outstanding common stock entitled to vote thereon, voting together as a single class, to amend certain provisions of the amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws; and|
|●||providing that the Board is expressly authorized to adopt, or to alter or repeal our bylaws.|
In addition, we are a Delaware corporation and governed by the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”). In general, Section 203 of the DGCL, an anti-takeover law, prohibits a publicly held Delaware corporation from engaging in a business combination, such as a merger, with a person or group owning 15% or more of the corporation’s voting stock, which person or group is considered an interested stockholder under the DGCL, for a period of three years following the date the person became an interested stockholder, unless (with certain exceptions) the business combination or the transaction in which the person became an interested stockholder is approved in a prescribed manner. We elected in our certificate of incorporation not to be subject to Section 203. However, our certificate of incorporation contains provisions that have the same effect as Section 203, except that they provide that the Designated Parties, their affiliates, and their respective successors (other than our company), as well as their direct and indirect transferees, are not deemed to be “interested stockholders,” regardless of the percentage of our voting stock owned by them, and accordingly are not subject to such restrictions. In addition, certain change of control events have the effect of accelerating the payment due under the Tax Receivable Agreement, which could be substantial and accordingly serve as a disincentive to a potential acquirer of our company. See – In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, we realize in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, and the federal district courts as the exclusive forum for Securities Act claims, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain what such stockholders believe to be a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we select or consent in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, all complaints asserting any internal corporate claims (defined as claims, including claims in the right of our Company: (i) that are based upon a violation of a duty by a current or former director, officer, employee, or stockholder in such capacity; or (ii) as to which the DGCL confers jurisdiction upon the Court of Chancery), to the fullest extent permitted by law, and subject to applicable jurisdictional requirements, shall be the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware (or, if the Court of Chancery does not have, or declines to accept, subject matter jurisdiction, another state court or a federal court located within the State of Delaware). Further, unless we select or consent to the selection of an alternative forum, the federal district courts of the United States shall be the exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. Our choice of forum provision does not apply to suits brought to enforce any liability or duty created by the Exchange Act and investors cannot waive compliance with the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations thereunder. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in shares of our capital stock will be deemed to have notice of, and consented to, the provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation described in the preceding sentence. This choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers, employees or agents, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and such persons. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation inapplicable to, or unenforceable in respect of, one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We cannot assure that we will pay any future dividends on our Class A common stock. Our indebtedness could limit our ability to pay future dividends on our Class A common stock.
Any payment of any future dividends will be at the discretion of our Board, which comprises a majority of independent directors. We have not adopted and do not expect to adopt a written dividend policy. Although our Board declared quarterly dividends on our Class A common stock for the fourth quarter of 2021 and each quarter of 2022, our Board may determine not to declare any cash dividends in the future. Such decision will
depend on, among other things, our financial condition, results of operations, projections, liquidity, earnings, legal requirements, and restrictions in our debt. In addition, our ability to pay dividends depends on our receipt of distributions from our operating subsidiaries, which may further restrict our ability to pay dividends as a result of the laws of their jurisdiction of organization, agreements of our subsidiaries or covenants under any indebtedness we or our subsidiaries incur, including the Restated Credit Agreement and the indenture that governs our Notes. For more information about these restrictions, see Part II, Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities – Our Dividend and Distribution Policy.
Future sales of our Class A common stock in the public market, or the perception that such sales may occur, could reduce our stock price, and any additional capital raised by us through the sale of equity or convertible securities may dilute ownership in us.
We may sell additional shares of our Class A common stock in future offerings. In addition, subject to certain limitations and exceptions, the Legacy Owners of Solaris LLC units may redeem their Solaris LLC units (together with a corresponding number of shares of Class B common stock) for shares of Class A common stock (on a one-for-one basis, subject to conversion rate adjustments for stock splits, stock dividends and reclassification and other similar transactions) and then sell those shares of Class A common stock. As of December 31, 2022 we had 29,919,217 outstanding shares of Class A common stock and 27,575,519 outstanding shares of Class B common stock. Shares of Class B common stock represented approximately 48% of our total outstanding common stock. All such shares were restricted from immediate resale under the federal securities laws and were subject to the lock-up agreements between such parties and the underwriters until the expiration of the lock-up agreements on April 19, 2022. These shares may be sold into the market in the future. Certain of the owners of our Class B shares are party to a registration rights agreement with us that requires us to effect the registration of their shares in certain circumstances no earlier than the expiration of the lock-up period.
We have also filed a registration statement with the SEC on Form S-8 providing for the registration of 5,350,000 shares of our Class A common stock issued or reserved for issuance under our 2021 Equity Incentive Plan. Subject to the satisfaction of vesting conditions, the expiration of lock-up agreements and the requirements of Rule 144, shares registered under the registration statement on Form S-8 may be made available for resale immediately in the public market without restriction.
We cannot predict the size of future issuances of our Class A common stock or securities convertible into Class A common stock or the effect, if any, that future issuances and sales of shares of our Class A common stock will have on the market price of our Class A common stock. Sales of substantial amounts of our Class A common stock (including shares issued in connection with an acquisition), or the perception that such sales could occur, may adversely affect prevailing market prices of our Class A common stock. This impact could be increased to the extent there is a less active trading market for our shares.
Aris Inc. will be required to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement for certain tax benefits that it may claim, and the amounts of such payments could be significant.
In connection with the closing of the IPO, Aris Inc. entered into a Tax Receivable Agreement with the TRA Holders. This agreement generally provides for the payment by Aris Inc. to each TRA Holder of 85% of the net cash savings, if any, in U.S. federal, state and local income tax and franchise tax that Aris Inc. actually realizes (computed using simplifying assumptions to address the impact of state and local taxes) or is deemed to realize in certain circumstances in periods after the IPO as a result of certain increases in tax basis and deemed interest deductions arising from these payments. Aris Inc. will retain the remaining 15% of these cash savings.
The term of the Tax Receivable Agreement commenced on October 26, 2021 and will continue until all tax benefits that are subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement have been utilized or expired, unless we exercise our right to terminate the Tax Receivable Agreement (or the Tax Receivable Agreement is terminated due to
other circumstances, including our breach of a material obligation thereunder or certain mergers, asset sales, other forms of business combination or other changes of control), and we make the termination payment specified in the Tax Receivable Agreement.
The payment obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement are Aris Inc.’s obligations and not obligations of Solaris LLC. For the year ended December 31, 2022, we made no payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement. However, we expect that the payments we will be required to make under the Tax Receivable Agreement in the future will be substantial over the life of the agreement. We could also be required to make a lump-sum payment as discussed in the following risk factor. Estimating the amount and timing of payments that may become due under the Tax Receivable Agreement is by its nature imprecise. For purposes of the Tax Receivable Agreement, cash savings in tax generally are calculated by comparing our actual tax liability (determined by using the actual applicable U.S. federal income tax rate and an assumed combined state and local income and franchise tax rate) to the amount we would have been required to pay had we not been able to utilize any of the tax benefits subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement. The actual increase in tax basis that may result in cash tax savings to Aris Inc. under the Tax Receivable Agreement, as well as the amount and timing of any payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement, will vary depending upon a number of factors, including the timing of any acquisition or redemption of Solaris LLC units, the price of our Class A common stock at the time of each acquisition or redemption, the extent to which such acquisition or redemption is a taxable transaction, the amount and timing of the taxable income we generate in the future, the U.S. federal income tax rates then applicable, and the portion of our payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement that give rise to depreciable or amortizable tax basis.
The payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement will not be conditioned upon a holder of rights under the Tax Receivable Agreement having a continued ownership interest in us. See Items 1. and 2. – Business and Properties – Organizational Structure and Corporate Information – Tax Receivable Agreement.
In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement may be accelerated and/or significantly exceed the actual benefits, if any, we realize in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement.
If we experience a change of control (as defined under the Tax Receivable Agreement, which includes certain mergers, asset sales and other forms of business combinations and change of control events) or the Tax Receivable Agreement terminates early (at our election or as a result of our breach), we could be required to make an immediate lump-sum payment (or “early termination payment”). This payment would equal the present value of hypothetical future payments that could be required to be paid under the Tax Receivable Agreement (determined by applying a discount rate of one-year London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) plus 200 basis points). The calculation of hypothetical future payments will be based upon certain assumptions and deemed events set forth in the Tax Receivable Agreement, including that (i) we have sufficient taxable income to fully utilize the tax benefits covered by the Tax Receivable Agreement (including having sufficient taxable income to utilize any accumulated net operating loss carryforwards in the manner described in the Tax Receivable Agreement) and (ii) any Solaris LLC units (other than those held by Aris Inc.) outstanding on the termination date are deemed to be redeemed on the termination date. As of December 31, 2022, we estimate the liability associated with this lump-sum payment would be approximately $159.0 million, discounted. Any early termination payment may be made significantly in advance of, and may materially exceed, the actual realization, if any, of the future tax benefits to which the termination payment relates.
If we experience a change of control (as defined under the Tax Receivable Agreement) or the Tax Receivable Agreement otherwise terminates early, our obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement could have a substantial negative impact on our liquidity and could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing certain mergers, asset sales or other forms of business combinations or changes of control.
See Items 1. and 2. – Business and Properties – Organizational Structure and Corporate Information – Tax Receivable Agreement.
We will not be reimbursed for any payments made under the Tax Receivable Agreement in the event that any tax benefits are subsequently disallowed.
Payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement will be based on the tax reporting positions that we will determine. The TRA Holders will not reimburse us for any payments previously made under the Tax Receivable Agreement if any tax benefits that have given rise to payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement are subsequently disallowed, except that excess payments made to any TRA Holder will be netted against payments that would otherwise be made to such TRA Holder, if any, after our determination of such excess. As a result, in such circumstances, we could make payments that are greater than our actual cash tax savings, if any, and may not be able to recoup those payments, which could adversely affect our liquidity.
We may be required to pay additional taxes because of the U.S. federal partnership audit rules and potentially also state and local tax rules.
Under the rules applicable to U.S. federal income tax audits of entities such as limited liability companies that are taxed as partnerships (which generally are effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017), subject to certain exceptions, audit adjustments to items of income, gain, loss, deduction, or credit of an entity (and any holder’s share thereof) is determined, and taxes, interest, and penalties attributable thereto, are assessed and collected, at the entity level. It is possible that these rules could result in Solaris LLC (or any of its applicable subsidiaries or other entities in which Solaris LLC directly or indirectly invests that are treated as partnerships for U.S. federal income tax purposes) being required to pay additional taxes, interest and penalties as a result of an audit adjustment, and we, as a member of Solaris LLC (or such other entities), could be required to indirectly bear the economic burden of those taxes, interest, and penalties even though we may not otherwise have been required to pay additional corporate-level taxes as a result of the related audit adjustment. Audit adjustments for state or local tax purposes could similarly result in Solaris LLC (or any of its applicable subsidiaries or other entities in which Solaris LLC directly or indirectly invests) being required to pay or indirectly bear the economic burden of state or local taxes and associated interest, and penalties.
Under certain circumstances, Solaris LLC or an entity in which Solaris LLC directly or indirectly invests may be eligible to make an election to cause members of Solaris LLC (or such other entity) to take into account the amount of any tax understatement, including any interest and penalties, in accordance with such member’s share in Solaris LLC in the year under audit. We will decide whether or not to cause Solaris LLC to make this election; however, there are circumstances in which the election may not be available and, in the case of an entity in which Solaris LLC directly or indirectly invests, such decision may be outside of our control. If Solaris LLC or an entity in which Solaris LLC directly or indirectly invests does not make this election, the then-current members of Solaris LLC (including Aris Inc.) could economically bear the burden of the understatement.
If Solaris LLC were to become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, Aris Inc. and Solaris LLC might be subject to potentially significant tax inefficiencies.
We intend to operate such that Solaris LLC does not become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes. A “publicly traded partnership” is an entity like a limited liability company treated as a partnership for tax purposes and the interests of which are traded on an established securities market or readily tradable on a secondary market or the substantial equivalent thereof. Under certain circumstances, exchanges of Solaris LLC units pursuant to certain transfers of Solaris LLC units could cause Solaris LLC to be treated like a publicly traded partnership. From time to time the U.S. Congress has considered legislation to change the tax treatment of partnerships and there can be no assurance that any such legislation will not be enacted or if enacted will not be adverse to us. If Solaris LLC were to become a publicly traded partnership taxable as a corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes,
significant tax inefficiencies might result for Aris Inc. and Solaris LLC, including as a result of Aris Inc.’s inability to file a consolidated U.S. federal income tax return with Solaris LLC.
Aris Inc. depends on distributions from Solaris LLC to pay any dividends, if declared, taxes and other expenses.
We are a holding company and our only business is to act as the managing member of Solaris LLC. We do not have any independent means of generating revenue. We anticipate that Solaris LLC will continue to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes and, as such, generally will not be subject to any entity-level U.S. federal income tax, except as otherwise described above regarding partnership audit rules. Instead, taxable income will be allocated to the members of Solaris LLC. Accordingly, Aris Inc. will be required to pay income taxes on its allocable share of any net taxable income of Solaris LLC. Subject to funds being available for distribution, we intend to cause Solaris LLC to make tax distributions to Aris Inc. in an amount intended to enable Aris Inc. to pay certain applicable taxes. In addition, Solaris LLC will reimburse Aris Inc. for corporate and other overhead expenses. If the amount of tax distributions to be made exceeds the amount of funds available for distribution, Aris Inc. shall receive the full amount of its tax distribution before the other members receive any distribution and the balance, if any, of funds available for distribution shall be distributed to the other members. To the extent that Aris Inc. needs funds, and Solaris LLC is restricted from making such distributions under applicable laws or regulations, or is otherwise unable to provide such funds, it could materially and adversely affect Aris Inc.’s ability to pay dividends and taxes and other expenses and affect our liquidity and financial condition.
In certain circumstances, Solaris LLC will be required to make distributions to us and the other members of Solaris LLC, and the distributions that Solaris LLC will be required to make may be substantial.
Solaris LLC is expected to continue to be treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes and, as such, is not subject to U.S. federal income tax. Instead, taxable income will be allocated to members, including Aris Inc. Pursuant to the Solaris LLC operating agreement and subject to funds being available for distribution, Solaris LLC will make tax distributions to Aris Inc. to help Aris Inc. pay taxes on its allocable share of Solaris LLC’s net taxable income. If an advance is made to Aris Inc. to enable it to pay certain applicable taxes, Aris Inc. will use commercially reasonable efforts to cause Solaris LLC to make advance distributions to each of the members of Solaris LLC. The advance distributions, if any, made to the members of Solaris LLC generally will be pro rata based on each member’s ownership of Solaris LLC units, calculated based on the amount distributed to Aris Inc.
Funds used by Solaris LLC to satisfy its tax distribution obligations will not be available for reinvestment in our business. Moreover, the tax distributions Solaris LLC will be required to make may be substantial, and may significantly exceed (as a percentage of Solaris LLC’s income) the overall effective tax rate applicable to a similarly situated corporate taxpayer. In addition, because these payments will be calculated based on the anticipated tax liability of Aris Inc. at the time of each distribution, these payments may significantly exceed the actual tax liability for many of the members of Solaris LLC (including Aris Inc.).
We may receive distributions significantly in excess of our tax liabilities. We may choose to manage these excess distributions through a number of different approaches, including through the payment of dividends to our Class A common stockholders or by applying them to other corporate purposes.
We may issue preferred stock whose terms could adversely affect the voting power or value of our Class A common stock.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation authorizes us to issue, without the approval of our stockholders, one or more classes or series of preferred stock having such designations, preferences, limitations and relative rights, including preferences over our Class A common stock respecting dividends and distributions, as our Board may determine. The terms of one or more classes or series of preferred stock
could adversely impact the voting power or value of our Class A common stock. For example, we might grant holders of preferred stock the right to elect some number of our directors in all events or on the happening of specified events or the right to veto specified transactions. Similarly, the repurchase or redemption rights or liquidation preferences we might assign to holders of preferred stock could affect the residual value of the Class A common stock.
Unanticipated changes in effective tax rates or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to taxes by the U.S. federal, state, and local tax authorities. Our future effective tax rates could be subject to volatility or adversely affected by a number of factors, including:
|●||allocation of expenses to and among different jurisdictions;|
|●||changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities;|
|●||expected timing and amount of the release of any tax valuation allowances;|
|●||tax effects of stock-based compensation;|
|●||costs related to intercompany restructurings;|
|●||changes in tax laws, tax treaties, regulations or interpretations thereof; or|
|●||lower than anticipated future earnings in jurisdictions where we have lower statutory tax rates and higher than anticipated future earnings in jurisdictions where we have higher statutory tax rates.|
In addition, we may be subject to audits of our income, sales and other taxes by U.S. federal, state, and local, taxing authorities. Outcomes from these audits could have an adverse effect on our operating results and financial condition.
General Risk Factors
We may be adversely affected by uncertainty in the global financial markets and a worldwide economic downturn.
Our future results may be impacted by uncertainty caused by a worldwide economic downturn, continued volatility or deterioration in the debt and equity capital markets, changes in interest rates, continued high inflation, deflation or other adverse economic conditions that may negatively affect us or parties with whom we do business resulting in a reduction in our customers’ spending and their non-payment or inability to perform obligations owed to us, such as the failure of customers to honor their commitments. Additionally, credit market conditions may change, slowing our collection efforts as customers may experience increased difficulty in obtaining requisite financing, potentially leading to lost revenue and higher than normal accounts receivable. In the event of the financial distress or bankruptcy of a customer, we could lose all or a portion of such outstanding accounts receivable associated with that customer. Further, if a customer were to enter into bankruptcy, it could also result in the cancellation of all or a portion of our service contracts with such customer at significant expense to us.
The current global economic environment may adversely impact our ability to issue debt. Any economic uncertainty may cause institutional investors to respond to their borrowers by increasing interest rates, enacting tighter lending standards or refusing to refinance existing debt upon its maturity or on terms similar to the expiring debt. Due to the above-listed factors, we cannot be certain that additional funding will be available if needed and, to the extent required, on acceptable terms.
The widespread outbreak of an illness or any other communicable disease, or any other public health crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic caused, and any resurgence of the pandemic or other public health crisis could again cause, disruptions to our business and operational plans, which may include (i) shortages of qualified employees in a given area, (ii) unavailability of contractors and subcontractors, (iii) interruption of supplies from third parties upon which we rely, (iv) recommendations of, or restrictions imposed by, government and health authorities, including quarantines, (v) restrictions that we and our contractors and subcontractors impose, including facility shutdowns or access restrictions, to ensure the safety of employees, and (vi) reductions, delays or cancellations of planned operations by our customers. Additionally, these disruptions could negatively impact our financial results.
Further, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns regarding its global spread may continue to negatively impacted the global economy, reduce global oil demand, disrupt global supply chains and create significant volatility and disruption of financial and commodities markets, which could lead to our customers curtailing existing production due to lack of downstream demand or storage capacity as well as reducing or eliminating the number of wells completed in the near to medium term.
The extent to which our operating and financial results will continue to be affected by COVID-19 will depend on various factors, many of which are uncertain and cannot be predicted. An additional extended period of global supply chain and economic disruption, as well as significantly decreased demand for oil and gas, could materially affect our business, results of operations, access to sources of liquidity and financial condition.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Due to the nature of our business, we may become, from time to time, involved in routine litigation or subject to disputes or claims related to our business activities. In the opinion of our management, there are no pending litigation, disputes or claims against us which, if decided adversely, will have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, cash flows or results of operations. See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Note 14. Commitments and Contingencies.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Our Class A common stock is listed on the NYSE under the symbol “ARIS.” As of March 3, 2023, 30,072,875 shares of Class A common stock were outstanding. As of March 3, 2023, 27,554,566 shares of Class B common stock were outstanding. There is no established public trading market for the Class B common stock.
Transfer Agent and Registrar
The Transfer Agent and Registrar for our Class A common stock is Broadridge Corporate Issuer Solutions, Inc.
As of March 3, 2023, the number of holders of record of our Class A common stock was 66. This number does not include stockholders whose shares are held in trust by other entities. As of March 3, 2023, the number of holders of record of our Class B common stock was 21.
The following table summarizes repurchases of our common stock occurring in fourth quarter 2022.
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
Average Price Paid Per Share
Total Number of
10/1/2022 - 10/31/2022
11/1/2022 - 11/30/2022
12/1/2022 - 12/31/2022
(1) Represents shares of our Class A common stock received by us from employees for the payment of withholding taxes due on shares of common stock issued under our 2021 Equity Incentive Plan.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Equity Securities
On October 27, 2022, in connection with the closing of an acquisition of certain intellectual property rights and related proprietary treatment technologies and assets from Water Standard, Aris Inc. issued 85,193 shares of its Class A common stock to the affiliate of the seller of such rights, technologies and assets as partial consideration therefor. Contemporaneously with the issuance of such shares of Class A common stock, Solaris LLC issued 85,193 Solaris LLC units to Aris Inc. Such shares of Class A common stock and Solaris LLC units were issued in a private placement not involving a public offering pursuant to the exemption from the registration requirements of Securities Act provided by Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act.
Our Dividend and Distribution Policy
Our Board declared dividends of $0.09 per share on our Class A common stock for each quarter of 2022. Our Board also declared a dividend of $0.09 per share on our Class A common stock for the first quarter of 2023.
Depending on factors deemed relevant by our Board, our Board may elect to declare future cash dividends on our Class A common stock, subject to our compliance with applicable law, and depending on, among other things, our financial condition, results of operations, projections, liquidity, earnings, legal requirements, and restrictions in our debt. The payment of any future dividends will be at the discretion of our Board from time to time. We have not adopted a written dividend policy. Our Board may determine not to declare any cash dividends in the future. See Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors ─ We cannot assure that we will pay any dividends on our Class A common stock. Our indebtedness could limit our ability to pay dividends on our Class A common stock. To the extent we pay any cash dividends on our Class A common stock, under the terms of
our organizational documents, Solaris LLC will pay an equivalent cash distribution on the Solaris LLC units, and each share of Class A common stock and each Solaris LLC unit will receive the same cash amount.
Our ability to pay any dividends depends on our receipt of cash dividends from our operating subsidiaries, which may further restrict our ability to pay dividends as a result of the laws of their jurisdiction of organization, agreements of our subsidiaries or covenants under any existing and future outstanding indebtedness we or our subsidiaries incur. Our Restated Credit Agreement generally permits Solaris LLC to pay distributions to us if (i) such distributions are funded using only Available Cash (as defined in the Restated Credit Agreement), (ii) Solaris LLC’s leverage ratio (calculated pursuant to the terms of the Restated Credit Agreement) is less than or equal to 3.75 to 1.00 on a pro forma basis and (iii) Solaris LLC has liquidity in excess of 15% of the existing commitments under the Restated Credit Agreement. If no loans are outstanding under our Restated Credit Agreement before or after such distribution, the leverage ratio specified in clause (ii) is increased to 4.00 to 1.00 and clause (iii) does not apply.
The indenture that governs our Notes generally permits Solaris LLC to pay distributions to us if Solaris LLC’s Consolidated Leverage Ratio (as defined in such indenture) is less than or equal to 3.50 to 1.00 on a pro forma basis after giving effect to such distribution. In addition, as long as Solaris LLC’s Fixed Charge Coverage Ratio (as defined in the indenture) for the prior four fiscal quarters is not less than 2.00 to 1.00, the indenture permits Solaris LLC to make distributions to us so long as such distribution, together with other distributions, does not exceed a basket amount determined by adding (i) 50% of Solaris LLC’s Consolidated Net Income (as defined in the indenture) taken as one period from January 1, 2022 to the most recently completed fiscal quarter, plus (ii) cash contributions to the equity of Solaris LLC and the fair market value of property acquired with Solaris LLC’s equity interests or contributed to its common equity capital, plus (iii) certain other others items, which basket amount is reduced by distributions made pursuant to the Consolidated Leverage Ratio test described in the immediately prior sentence. Solaris LLC also has the ability under the indenture to make distributions in an amount not in excess of $15.0 million since the date of the indenture. See Part II, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations ─ Debt Agreements.
As the managing member of Solaris LLC, and subject to funds being legally available, we intend to cause Solaris LLC to make (i) generally pro rata advance distributions to us in an amount at least sufficient to allow us to pay taxes, and (ii) non-pro rata advance distributions to allow us to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement and any subsequent tax receivable agreements that we may enter into in connection with future acquisitions, and (iii) non-pro rata payments to us to reimburse us for corporate and other overhead expenses. If an advance is made to us to enable us to pay certain applicable taxes, we will use commercially reasonable efforts to cause Solaris LLC to make advance distributions to each of the members of Solaris LLC. The advance distributions, if any, made to the members of Solaris LLC generally will be pro rata based on each member’s ownership of Solaris LLC units, calculated based on the amount distributed to us. If the amount of tax distributions to be made exceeds the amount of funds available for distribution, we will receive a portion of our tax distribution (such portion determined based on the tax rate applicable to us rather than the assumed tax rate on which tax distributions are generally based) before the other members receive any distribution and the balance, if any, of funds available for tax distributions will be distributed to the other members. Holders of our Class B common stock will not be entitled to dividends distributed by us but will share in the distributions made by Solaris LLC on a pro rata basis.
Stock Performance Graph
The graph below compares the cumulative return to holders of our Class A common stock, the Russell 2000 and the Alerian MLP Index during the period beginning on October 26, 2021, and ending on December 31, 2022. The performance graph was prepared based on the following assumptions: (i) $100 was invested in our Class A common stock and in each of the indices at beginning of the period, and (ii) dividends were reinvested on the relevant payment dates. The stock price performance included in this graph is historical and not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.
Note that there have been both a less active trading market and a relatively short trading period for our Class A common stock.
Pursuant to Instruction 7 to Item 201(e) of Regulation S-K, the above stock performance graph and related information is being furnished and is not being filed with the SEC, and as such shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any filing that incorporates this Annual Report by reference.
Item 6. [Reserved]
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
You should read the following discussion of our historical performance, financial condition and prospects in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements as of and for the three years ended December 31, 2022 included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report. The information provided below supplements, but does not form part of, our historical financial statements. This discussion includes forward-looking statements that are based on the views and beliefs of our management, as well as assumptions and estimates made by our management. Actual results could differ materially from such forward-looking statements because of various risk factors, including those that may not be in the
control of management. For further information on items that could impact our future operating performance or financial condition, see Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors and the section entitled “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” elsewhere in this Annual Report. We assume no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements, except as required by law.
We have applied provisions of the SEC’s FAST Act Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K, which limits the discussion to the two most recent fiscal years. This discussion and analysis deals with comparisons of material changes in the consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021. For the comparison of the years ended December 31, 2021 and 2020, see Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021 filed with the SEC on March 1, 2022.
For an overview of our business, see Part I, Items 1. and 2. Business and Properties – Our Company.
Significant financial and operating highlights for the year ended December 31, 2022 include:
|●||Increase of approximately 14,000 net dedicated acres|
|●||Total water volumes handled or sold of 1,284 kbwpd, an increase of 36% from the prior year|
|●||Recycled produced water volumes sold of 300 kbwpd, an increase of 144% from the prior year|
|●||Total revenue of $321.0 million, an increase of 40% from the prior year|
|●||Abandoned well costs of $15.8 million, a decrease of 45% from the prior year|
|●||Impairment expense of $15.6 million|
|●||Net income of $4.8 million as compared with a net loss of $7.0 million for the prior year|
|●||Adjusted EBITDA (non-GAAP financial measure) of $149.0 million, an increase of 24% from the prior year|
|●||Dividend of $0.09 per share declared on our Class A common stock, along with a distribution of $0.09 per unit paid to unit holders of Solaris LLC units, for each quarter of 2022|
|●||Expansion of TPL alliance|
|●||New long-term full-cycle water management agreement with Chevron U.S.A.|
|●||Delaware Energy asset acquisition|
|●||Water Standard asset acquisition|
|●||Strategic beneficial reuse agreement with Chevron U.S.A. and ConocoPhillips, with ExxonMobil joining the agreement in January 2023|
For a discussion of our recent developments, see Part I, Items 1. and 2. Business and Properties – Our Operations and Assets – Recent Operating Developments. For additional information regarding our non-GAAP financial measures, see Non-GAAP Financial Measures below.
General Trends and Outlook
The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine is having significant global economic implications and may result in higher inflation, weaker real GDP growth and disruption to global financial markets. The extent of these impacts will depend on the length of the conflict and whether the conflict spreads beyond Ukraine’s borders.
In addition, there are particular impacts on commodity prices due to supply disruptions which are resulting in significantly higher WTI crude oil prices. As the U.S. economy began recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic in the latter half of 2021, domestic crude oil prices began to increase. During the year ended December 31, 2022, the average WTI spot price was $94.90 per barrel as compared with $67.99 per barrel for the year ended December 31, 2021.
The continuing impact on commodity prices will also depend on the responses of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil exporting nations (“OPEC+”) to supply disruptions and higher prices. On October 5, 2022, OPEC+ announced that it would reduce oil production by two million barrels per day, the largest cut since April 2020. The reduction is equivalent to approximately 2% of global demand.
We believe there are several industry trends that continue to provide meaningful support for future growth. Our key customers’ capital allocation to the Permian Basin remains consistent and significant, including on acreage where the water sourcing and production is dedicated to us. Additionally, operators continue to average longer horizontal lateral lengths which corresponds to increased water sourcing and produced water handling volumes.
Many industry trends such as simultaneous multi-well operations and reuse applications of produced water, particularly in the areas of the Permian Basin where we operate, are improving efficiencies and returns and provide us with significant opportunities for both our Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions businesses.
During 2021, the U.S. began experiencing increased wage and price inflation, as evidenced by increases in the CPI. The annual rate of inflation in the U.S. reached 6.5% in December 2022, a reduction from the 9.1% annual rate reported in June 2022. Through December 31, 2022, the Federal Reserve has approved seven interest rate hikes that total a 4.25 percentage point increase. The Federal Reserve has indicated additional rate increases may be approved in the future. The degree of inflation, and length of time it continues, will be impacted by any further steps the Federal Reserve takes to combat inflationary pressures, such as by continuing to adjust interest rates.
During 2022, our revenue growth was partially offset by higher than anticipated cost inflation. Our long-term, fee-based produced water handling contracts are generally subject to limited annual CPI based adjustments. However, many of our contractual CPI based adjustments are capped at a maximum annual increase and, therefore, our costs have, in certain circumstances, increased more rapidly than the fees that we charge to customers pursuant to our contracts with them. If inflation in the CPI were to remain significantly higher than our contractually allowed fee increases, we could experience negative impacts to our operating margins.
In New Mexico, we operate four wells located within the Hat Mesa Seismic Response Area (“SRA”) that are subject to the associated Seismic Response Protocol and we have partially curtailed injection in one of the wells. We continue to operate our partially curtailed well. As there has been no further seismic activity within the Hat Mesa SRA in 2022, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division reduced curtailment requirements.
In Texas, during the third quarter of 2022, we sold one deep injection well along with the permit to recomplete the deep well to a shallow injector. The well was located within the Gardendale SRA where the Texas Railroad Commission suspended all active permits to inject oil and gas waste into deep strata. As of December 31, 2022, we owned one well within the Gardendale SRA, which well was plugged and abandoned subsequent to year end 2022.
Due to the integrated nature of our pipeline network and our system-wide redundancy, we have been able to comply with regulator responses to seismic activity, while continuing to provide service to our customers without significant disruption in our operations. In addition, our compliance with state regulator seismic response actions has not resulted in any material volumetric, revenue or cash flow decreases.
How We Generate Revenue
We manage our business through a single operating segment comprising two primary revenue streams, Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions. Our produced water handling revenue is driven by the volumes of produced water we gather from our customers, and our water solutions revenue is driven by the quantities of recycled produced water and groundwater delivered to our customers to support their well completion activities.
Under our contracts with our customers, which are generally subject to periodic index-based adjustments such as CPI, we receive a fixed fee per barrel of produced water received from our customers, which water is either handled or recycled, and a fixed fee per barrel of recycled water or groundwater sold to our customers. In addition, one of our significant customer contracts provides for rates that periodically fluctuate within a defined range in response to changes in WTI. See Part II, Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.
Costs of Conducting Our Business
Direct Operating Costs
We incur direct operating costs primarily as a function of the number of barrels of water received, handled and treated. The major categories of direct operating costs are landowner royalties, power expenses for handling and treatment facilities, direct labor, chemicals for water treatment, water filtration expenses, workover expense, repair and maintenance of facilities, equipment rental, and environmental remediation. We seek to minimize, to the extent appropriate for safe and reliable operations, expenses directly tied to operating and maintaining our assets. Certain expenses, such as workover and repair and maintenance expense, may occur on an irregular basis, resulting in volatility in our operating margin.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses are costs incurred for overhead, including payroll and benefits for our corporate staff, stock-based compensation, costs of maintaining our offices, costs of managing our permitting operations, information technology expenses, insurance, audit and other fees for professional services, and other costs incurred as a result of our being a public company.
How We Evaluate Our Results of Operations
We use a variety of financial and operational metrics to evaluate our performance. These metrics help us identify factors and trends that impact our operating results, cash flows and financial condition. The key metrics we use to evaluate our business are provided below.
Produced Water Handling Volumes
We continually seek to bring additional produced water volumes onto our system to maintain or increase throughput on our systems. These volumes are a primary revenue driver and serve as a water source for our Water Solutions business. Changes in produced water handling throughput are driven primarily by the level of production and pace of completions activity on our contracted acreage. We define Produced Water Handling Volumes as all produced water barrels received from customers and any barrels that are deficient under minimum volume commitment agreements.
Water Solutions Barrels Sold and Transferred
Our recycled water and groundwater sales are driven primarily by our customers’ oil and gas well completion activities. We continually seek to gain market share and expand our customer base for recycled water and groundwater sales in the Permian Basin. We believe our access to abundant produced water volumes and the scale of our systems allows us to distribute recycled water for our customers’ completion activities in an efficient, cost effective, and environmentally conscious manner. We define Water Solutions Barrels Sold and Transferred as the total of all recycled water and groundwater barrels sold plus groundwater barrels transferred on behalf of third parties.
We analyze our revenue and assess our performance by comparing actual revenue to our internal projections and across periods. We examine revenue per barrel of water handled or sold to evaluate pricing trends and customer mix impacts. We also assess incremental changes in revenue compared to incremental changes in direct operating costs and selling, general and administrative expenses to identify potential areas for improvement and to determine whether our performance is meeting our expectations.
We generate revenue by providing fee-based services related to our Produced Water Handling and Water Solutions businesses.
The services related to produced water are fee-based arrangements which are based on the volume of water that flows through our systems and facilities. Revenue from produced water handling consists primarily of per barrel fees charged to our customers for the use of our transportation and water handling services. For our produced water handling contracts, revenue is recognized over time utilizing the output method based on the volume of produced water accepted from the customer.
The sale of recycled produced water and groundwater are priced based on negotiated rates with our customers. For contracts that involve recycled produced water and groundwater, revenue is recognized at a point in time when control of the product is transferred to the customer.
We use Adjusted EBITDA as a performance measure to assess the ability of our assets to generate sufficient cash to pay interest costs, support indebtedness and, at the discretion of our Board of Directors, return capital to equity holders. Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss) plus: interest expense; income taxes; depreciation, amortization and accretion expense; abandoned well costs, asset impairment and abandoned project charges; losses on the sale of assets; transaction costs; research and development expense; loss on debt modification; stock-based compensation expense; and other non-recurring or unusual expenses or charges (including severance, temporary power costs, discussed below, and IPO transaction bonus), less any gains on sale of assets. (See Non-GAAP Financial Measures below for more information regarding this financial measure, including a reconciliation to its most directly comparable GAAP measure.)
Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel
Our Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel are dependent upon the volume of produced water we gather and handle, the volume of recycled water and groundwater we sell and transfer, the fees we charge for such services, and the recurring operating expenses we incur to perform such services. We define Adjusted Operating Margin as Gross Margin plus depreciation, amortization and accretion and temporary power costs. We define Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel as Adjusted Operating Margin divided by total volumes handled, sold or transferred. Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel are non-GAAP financial measures. See Non-GAAP Financial Measures below for more information regarding this financial measure, including a reconciliation to its most directly comparable GAAP measures for each measure.
We seek to maximize our Adjusted Operating Margin in part by minimizing, to the extent appropriate, expenses directly tied to operating our assets. Landowner royalties, utilities, direct labor costs, chemical costs, workover and repair and maintenance costs, and contract services comprise the most significant portion of our expenses. Our operating expenses are largely variable and as such, generally fluctuate in correlation with throughput volumes.
Our Adjusted Operating Margin is incrementally benefited from increased Water Solutions recycled water sales. When produced water is recycled, we recognize cost savings from reduced landowner royalties, reduced pumping costs, lower chemical treatment and filtration costs, and reduced power consumption.
Factors Affecting the Comparability of Our Results of Operations
Temporary Power Costs
In the past, we constructed assets in advance of permanent grid power infrastructure availability in order to secure long-term produced water handling contracts. As a result, we rented temporary power generation equipment that would not have been necessary if grid power connections had been available. We estimated temporary power costs by taking temporary power and rental expenses incurred during the period and subtracting estimated expenses that would have been incurred during such period had permanent grid power been available. Power infrastructure and permanent power availability rapidly expanded in the Permian Basin in 2020 and the first half of 2021, and, accordingly, we were able to make significant progress in reducing these expenses over that period. By the end of September 2021, all of our significant produced water handling facilities were being supported by permanent power. Beginning in the third quarter of 2021, we were no longer adjusting for temporary power costs.
We remove temporary power costs when calculating Adjusted Operating Margin to accurately assess long-term profitability and cash flow on a basis consistent with our long-term projections and current operating cost profile.
Results of Operations
Aris Inc. was formed in May 2021 and does not have historical financial operating results. For purposes of this Annual Report, our accounting predecessor is Solaris LLC. Solaris LLC was formed in November 2015. Following our IPO and the transactions related thereto, we became a holding company whose sole material asset consists of Solaris LLC units. We became the managing member of Solaris LLC and are responsible for all operational, management and administrative decisions relating to Solaris LLC’s business and, as a result, consolidate the financial results of Solaris LLC and its subsidiaries. The financial data discussed below reflect
the historical results of operations and financial position of Solaris LLC, our predecessor for accounting purposes prior to the date of our IPO closing.
Results of operations were as follows for the periods indicated:
Year Ended December 31,
2022 vs. 2021
Produced Water Handling
Produced Water Handling—Affiliates
Cost of Revenue
Direct Operating Costs
Depreciation, Amortization and Accretion
Total Cost of Revenue
Operating Costs and Expenses
Abandoned Well Costs
General and Administrative
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
Research and Development Expense
Other Operating Expense
Total Operating Expenses
Interest Expense, Net
Income (Loss) Before Income Taxes
Income Tax Expense
Net Income (Loss)
N/M = Not Meaningful
The amount of revenue we generate depends primarily on the volumes of water which we handle, sell or transfer for our customers.
Our volumes were as follows for the periods indicated:
2022 vs. 2021
(thousands of barrels of water per day)
Produced Water Handling Volumes
Water Solutions Volumes
Recycled Produced Water Volumes Sold
Groundwater Volumes Sold
Groundwater Volumes Transferred (1)
Total Water Solutions Volumes
Total Water Volumes
Per Barrel Operating Metrics (2)
Produced Water Handling Revenue/Barrel
Water Solutions Revenue/Barrel
Revenue/Barrel of Total Volumes
Direct Operating Costs/Barrel
Adjusted Operating Margin/Barrel (3)
|(1)||The groundwater transfer assets were sold in the first quarter of 2022.|
|(2)||Per barrel operating metrics are calculated independently. Therefore, the sum of individual amounts may not equal the total presented.|
|(3)||See Non-GAAP Financial Measures below.|
Our skim oil volumes recovered were as follows for the periods indicated:
2022 vs. 2021
Skim Oil Volumes (bpd)
Skim Oil Sales Revenue/Barrel (1)
|(1)||Skim oil price received from the purchaser is net of certain customary deductions, including severance taxes.|
An analysis of revenue is as follows:
Produced Water Handling Revenue
Total produced water handling revenues and produced water handling revenues per barrel of produced water are as follows:
Year Ended December 31,
2022 vs. 2021
Produced Water Handling Fees
Skim Oil Sales Revenue
Total Produced Water Handling Revenue
Produced Water Handling Fees/Bbl
Skim Oil Sales Revenue/Bbl
Total Produced Water Handling Revenue/Bbl
Total produced water handling revenue increased for the year ended December 31, 2022 as compared with the year ended December 31, 2021 due primarily to:
|●||an increase of $41.8 million due to a 166 kbwpd volume increase driven primarily by activity associated with our long-term acreage dedication agreements,|
|●||an increase of $1.7 million due to customer mix and contractual price adjustments, and|
|●||an increase of $15.9 million in skim oil sales revenue due to higher crude oil prices and increased volumes on the system.|
Water Solutions Revenue
Water Solutions revenue increased for the year ended December 31, 2022 as compared with the year ended December 31, 2021 due primarily to an increase of $31.5 million in revenue related to the 171 kbwpd net volume increase. The volume increase was driven by an increase in recycling volumes from higher completion activities across the Permian Basin in response to recovering commodity prices as well as newly signed commercial agreements.
Direct Operating Costs
Direct operating costs increased for the year ended December 31, 2022 as compared with the year ended December 31, 2021 due to higher volumes as well as cost inflation in labor, chemical treatment, rental equipment and fuel expense, offset by the absence of temporary power generation expenses. On a per barrel basis, direct operating costs increased due to the higher labor, chemical treatment, rental equipment and fuel expenses, which increased due to inflationary pressure, partially offset by reduced temporary power generation expenses.
All our significant produced water handling facilities have been on permanent power since the end of June 2021. For the year ended December 31, 2021, the estimated incremental impact of temporary power expenses was $4.3 million or approximately $0.01 per barrel.
See Factors Affecting the Comparability of our Results of Operations — Temporary Power Costs for additional information.
Depreciation, Amortization and Accretion Expense
Depreciation, amortization and accretion expense increased for the year ended December 31, 2022 as compared with the year ended December 31, 2021 due primarily to higher amortization expense related to a previously acquired customer contract, as well as depreciation expense related to new assets placed in service.
Abandoned Well Costs
Abandoned well costs for the year ended December 31, 2022 related to the abandonment of SWD wells that were no longer economically beneficial to the operations of the Company, as well as the abandonment of a well under construction. See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Note 5. Property, Plant and Equipment.
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative (“G&A”) expenses increased for the year ended December 31, 2022 as compared with the year ended December 31, 2021 due primarily to increased compensation and benefits expenses, travel, and insurance costs corresponding with the increased headcount required for our larger asset footprint. G&A expenses include stock-based compensation expense of $11.4 million and $1.5 million for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, respectively.
Impairment expense for the year ended December 31, 2022 related to Midland Basin assets reclassified to assets held for sale during the first quarter of 2022. The assets were re-measured at their fair values less costs to sell, which resulted in the recognition of pre-tax impairment expense. See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Note 5. Property, Plant and Equipment.
Research and Development Expense
Research and development (“R&D”) expense is related to the development of technologies for the beneficial reuse of produced water.
Other Operating Expense
Other operating expense includes net gains and losses on asset sales, transaction costs, abandoned project costs and other expenses. See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data – Note 3. Additional Financial Statement Information.
Interest Expense, Net
Components of interest expense, net are as follows for the periods indicated:
Year Ended December 31,
Interest on Debt Instruments
Amortization of Financing Costs
Total Interest Expense
Less: Capitalized Interest
Interest Expense, Net
Total Interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2022 increased as compared with the year ended December 31, 2021 due to increases in total debt outstanding and the average interest rate related to outstanding debt. The average outstanding debt balance for the year ended December 31, 2022 was $406.7 million compared with $374.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2021. The average interest rate on outstanding debt was 7.61% for the year ended December 31, 2022 as compared with 6.67% for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Capitalized interest for the year ended December 31, 2022 increased primarily as a result of an increase in the amount of assets under construction as well as a slightly higher average interest rate.
Income Tax Provision
Income tax (benefit) expense included in our consolidated statements of operations for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021 is calculated based only on our allocable share of income (loss) of Solaris LLC, which is taxed as a partnership. See Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data ─ Note 12. Income Taxes for a discussion of our income tax provision and effective tax rate.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin Per Barrel are supplemental non-GAAP measures that we use to evaluate current, past and expected future performance. Although these non-GAAP financial measures are important factors in assessing our operating results and cash flows, they should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for net income or gross margin or any other measures prepared under GAAP.
We believe this presentation is used by investors and professional research analysts for the valuation, comparison, rating, and investment recommendations of companies within our industry. Additionally, we use this information for comparative purposes within our industry. Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel are not measures of financial performance under GAAP and should not be considered as measures of liquidity or as alternatives to net income or gross margin. Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel as defined by us may not be comparable to similarly titled measures used by other companies and should be considered in conjunction with net income and other measures prepared in accordance with GAAP, such as gross margin, operating income or cash flows from operating activities.
We use Adjusted EBITDA as a performance measure to assess the ability of our assets to generate sufficient cash to pay interest costs, support indebtedness and, at the discretion of our Board of Directors, return capital to equity holders. We also use Adjusted EBITDA as a performance measure under our short-term incentive plan. We define Adjusted EBITDA as net income (loss) plus: interest expense; income taxes; depreciation, amortization and accretion expense; abandoned well costs, asset impairment and abandoned project charges; losses on the sale of assets; transaction costs; research and development expense; loss on debt modification; stock-based compensation expense; and other non-recurring or unusual expenses or charges (including severance, temporary power costs, discussed above, and IPO transaction bonus), less any gains on sale of assets.
Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel
Our Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel are dependent upon the volume of produced water we gather and handle, the volume of recycled water and groundwater we sell and transfer, the fees we charge for such services, and the recurring operating expenses we incur to perform such services. We define Adjusted Operating Margin as Gross Margin plus depreciation, amortization and accretion and temporary power costs. We define Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel as Adjusted Operating
Margin divided by total volumes handled, sold or transferred. Adjusted Operating Margin and Adjusted Operating Margin per Barrel are non-GAAP financial measures.
We seek to maximize our Adjusted Operating Margin in part by minimizing, to the extent appropriate, expenses directly tied to operating our assets. Landowner royalties, utilities, direct labor costs, chemical costs, workover and repair and maintenance costs, and contract services comprise the most significant portion of our expenses. Our operating expenses are largely variable and as such, generally fluctuate in correlation with throughput volumes.
Our Adjusted Operating Margin is incrementally benefited from increased Water Solutions recycled water sales. When produced water is recycled, we recognize cost savings from reduced landowner royalties, reduced pumping costs, lower chemical treatment and filtration costs, and reduced power consumption.
The following table sets forth a reconciliation of net income (loss) as determined in accordance with GAAP to Adjusted EBITDA and gross margin as determined in accordance with GAAP to Adjusted Operating Margin for the periods indicated:
Net Income (Loss)
Interest Expense, Net
Income Tax Expense
Depreciation, Amortization and Accretion
Abandoned Well Costs
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
Loss (Gain) on Disposal of Asset, Net
Research & Development Expense
Temporary Power Costs
Loss on Debt Modification
IPO Transaction Bonus
Severance and Other