Company Quick10K Filing
Dynagas LNG Partners
20-F 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-04-16
20-F 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-04-24
20-F 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-03-09
20-F 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-03-20
20-F 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-04-18
20-F 2014-12-31 Filed 2015-03-10
20-F 2013-12-31 Filed 2014-03-25

DLNG 20F Annual Report

Part I.
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
Item 4. Information on The Partnership
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions
Item 8. Financial Information
Item 9. The Offer and Listing.
Item 10. Additional Information
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities
Part II
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16. [Reserved]
Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert
Item 16B. Code of Ethics
Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees
Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Item 16F. Change in Registrants' Certifying Accountant
Item 16G. Corporate Governance
Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure
Part III
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
EX-2.1 d8518323_ex2-1.htm
EX-4.6 d8518424_ex4-6.htm
EX-8.1 d8518532_ex8-1.htm
EX-12.1 d8517969_ex12-1.htm
EX-12.2 d8517969_ex12-2.htm
EX-13.1 d8517969_ex13-1.htm
EX-13.2 d8517969_ex13-2.htm
EX-15.1 d8517969_ex15-1.htm
EX-15.2 d8517969_ex15-2.htm

Dynagas LNG Partners Earnings 2019-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

20-F 1 d8517969_20-f.htm
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, DC 20549
FORM 20-F
[_] REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
[X] ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019

OR

[_] TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ____ to ____

OR
[_] SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF
THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report:
Commission file number: 001-36185

DYNAGAS LNG PARTNERS LP
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)

Republic of the Marshall Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)

Poseidonos Avenue and Foivis 2 Street
166 74 Glyfada, Athens, Greece
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
Michael Gregos
 Poseidonos Avenue and Foivis 2 Street
166 74 Glyfada, Athens, Greece
Tel. +30 210 891 7960
(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of Each Class
Trading Symbol(s)
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common units representing limited partnership interests
DLNG
New York Stock Exchange
9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units
DLNG PR A
New York Stock Exchange
8.75% Series B Fixed to Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Units
DLNG PR B
New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act: None
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer's classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:
35,490,000 Common Units
35,526 General Partner Units
3,000,000 9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units
2,200,000 8.75% Series B Fixed to Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Units
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

[_] Yes
[X] No
   
If this report is an annual report or transition report, indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

[_] Yes
[X] No
   
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.

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.

[X] Yes
[_] No
   
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).

[X] Yes
[_] No
 
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer [_]
Accelerated filer [  ]
Non-accelerated filer [X]
Emerging growth company [_]
   
   
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, 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.[_]

† The term "new or revised financial accounting standard" refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

 
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the Registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
[X] U.S. GAAP
 
[_] International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board
 
[_] Other
 
If "Other" has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which
financial statement item the Registrant has elected to follow.
 
[_] Item 17
 
[_] Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
[_] Yes
[X] No
   
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.
[_] Yes
[_] No
   

PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION IN THIS ANNUAL REPORT
This Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2019, or the Annual Report, should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included in this Annual Report. Unless the context otherwise requires, references in this Annual Report to "Dynagas LNG Partners," the "Partnership," "we," "our" and "us" or similar terms refer to Dynagas LNG Partners LP and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, including Dynagas Operating LP.  Dynagas Operating LP owns, directly or indirectly, a 100% interest in the entities that own the LNG carriers in our fleet that we refer to as our "Fleet". References in this Annual Report to "our General Partner" refer to Dynagas GP LLC, the general partner of Dynagas LNG Partners LP.  References in this Annual Report to our "Sponsor" are to Dynagas Holding Ltd. and its subsidiaries other than us or our subsidiaries and references to our "Manager" refer to Dynagas Ltd., which is wholly owned by the chairman of our Board of Directors, Mr. Georgios Prokopiou. References in this Annual Report to the "Prokopiou Family" are to our Chairman, Mr. Georgios Prokopiou, and certain members of his family.
All references in this Annual Report to us for periods prior to our initial public offering, or IPO, on November 18, 2013 refer to our predecessor companies and their subsidiaries, which are former subsidiaries of our Sponsor that had interests in the Clean Energy, the Ob River and the Amur River, collectively our "Initial Fleet".
All references in this prospectus to "Gazprom", "Equinor", and "Yamal" refer to Gazprom Marketing and Trading Singapore Pte Ltd, Equinor ASA (formerly, Statoil ASA), and Yamal Trade Pte. Ltd., respectively.
Unless otherwise indicated, all references to "U.S. dollars," "dollars" and "$" in this prospectus are to the lawful currency of the United States. We use the term "LNG" to refer to liquefied natural gas, and we use the term "cbm" to refer to cubic meters in describing the carrying capacity of our vessels.
References herein to the "Omnibus Agreement" refer to the Omnibus Agreement, as amended and as currently in effect, with our Sponsor. The Omnibus Agreement provides us with the right to acquire ownership interests from our Sponsor in certain identified vessels as set forth elsewhere in this Annual Report. Our Sponsor owned or owns, directly or indirectly, 100% of the equity interests of the entities that own or owned these seven identified LNG carriers, the Yenisei River, the Arctic Aurora, the Lena River, the Clean Ocean, the Clean Planet, the Clean Horizon and the Clean Vision, which we refer to throughout this Annual Report as the "Initial Optional Vessels." In 2014 and 2015, we exercised our purchase options under the Omnibus Agreement and acquired from our Sponsor the Arctic Aurora, the Yenisei River and the Lena River. The purchase options for the Clean Horizon, the Clean Vision, the Clean Ocean and the Clean Planet have expired unexercised. Our Sponsor also owns a 49% minority ownership interest in five joint venture entities that currently own five 172,000 cubic meter ARC7 LNG carriers, namely, the Boris Vilkitsky, Fedor Litke, Georgiy Brusilov, Boris Davydov and Nikolay Zubov, including the related charters or other agreements relating to the operation or ownership of these LNG carriers. Our options to purchase the Sponsor's interests in the Boris Vilkitsky, the Fedor Litke and the related agreements have expired unexercised.  We refer to our Sponsor's interests in these vessels and the related agreements, other than with respect to the Boris Vilkitsky and the Fedor Litke, throughout this Annual Report as the "Optional Vessels." Pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement, we have the right but not the obligation, subject to certain terms and conditions, to acquire the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor.
The "Yamal LNG Project" refers to the LNG production terminal on the Yamal Peninsula in Northern Russia.  The terminal consists of three LNG trains with a total capacity of 16.5 million metric tons of LNG per year, that will require ice-class designated vessels to transport LNG from this facility, and for which, two of the vessels in our Fleet, and each of the vessels that comprise Optional Vessels have been contracted.  The Yamal LNG Project is a joint venture between NOVATEK (50.1%), TOTAL E&P Yamal (20%), China National Oil & Gas Exploration and Development Corporation (CNODC) (20%) and Yaym Limited (9.9%). Please see "Item 4. Information on the Partnership—B. Business Overview."


FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report contains certain forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act) concerning future events and our operations, performance and financial condition, including, in particular, the likelihood of our success in developing and expanding our business.  The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides safe harbor protections for forward-looking statements in order to encourage companies to provide prospective information about their business.
We desire to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and are including this cautionary statement in connection with this safe harbor legislation. This report and any other written or oral statements made by us or on our behalf may include forward-looking statements, which reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance. Statements that are predictive in nature, that depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, or that include words such as "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "plans," "believes," "estimates," "projects," "likely," "would," "could," "seek," "continue," "possible," "might," "forecasts," "will," "may," "potential," "should," and similar expressions are forward-looking statements.  These forward-looking statements reflect management's current views only as of the date of this Annual Report and are not intended to give any assurance as to future results.  As a result, unitholders are cautioned not to rely on any forward-looking statements.
Forward-looking statements appear in a number of places in this Annual Report and include statements with respect to, among other things:

LNG market trends, including charter rates, factors affecting supply and demand, and opportunities for the profitable operations of LNG carriers;

our anticipated growth strategies;

the effect of a worldwide economic slowdown;

potential turmoil in the global financial markets;

stability of Europe and the Euro;

fluctuations in currencies and interest rates;

the impact of the discontinuance of LIBOR after 2021 on interest rates of our debt that reference LIBOR;

general market conditions, including fluctuations in charter hire rates and vessel values;

changes in our operating expenses, including dry-docking, crewing and insurance costs, bunker prices and fuel prices;

the adequacy of our insurance to cover our losses;

our ability to make cash distributions on the units or any increase or decrease in or elimination of our cash distributions;

our future financial condition or results of operations and our future revenues and expenses;

our ability to repay or refinance our existing debt and settling of interest rate swaps (if any);

our ability to incur additional indebtedness on acceptable terms or at all, to access the public and private debt and equity markets and to meet our restrictive covenants and other obligations under our credit facilities, including our $675 Million Credit Facility (as defined below);

our Sponsor's ability to fund our $30 Million Revolving Credit Facility (as defined below);

planned capital expenditures and availability of capital resources to fund capital expenditures;

our ability to comply with additional costs and risks related to our environmental, social and governance policies;

our ability to maintain long-term relationships with major LNG traders;



our ability to leverage our Sponsor's relationships and reputation in the shipping industry;

our ability to realize the expected benefits from our vessel acquisitions;

our ability to purchase vessels from our Sponsor and other parties in the future, including the Optional Vessels;

our continued ability to enter into profitable long-term time charters;

our ability to maximize the use of our vessels, including the re-deployment or disposition of vessels no longer under long-term time charters;

future purchase prices of newbuildings and secondhand vessels and timely deliveries of such vessels;

our ability to compete successfully for future chartering opportunities and newbuilding opportunities (if any);

acceptance of a vessel by its charterer;

termination dates and extensions of charters;

changes in governmental rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities, including the implementation of new environmental regulations;

the expected cost of, and our ability to comply with, governmental regulations, including regulations relating to ballast water and fuel sulphur, maritime self-regulatory organization standards, as well as standard regulations imposed by our charterers applicable to our business;

availability of skilled labor, vessel crews and management;

our anticipated incremental general and administrative expenses as a publicly traded limited partnership and our fees and expenses payable under the fleet management agreements and the administrative services agreement with our Manager;

our anticipated taxation and distributions to our unitholders;

estimated future maintenance and replacement capital expenditures;

our ability to retain key employees;

charterers' increasing emphasis on environmental and safety concerns;

potential liability from any pending or future litigation;

potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents, political events, public health threats, pandemics, international hostilities and instability, piracy or acts by terrorists;

the impact of public health threats and outbreaks of other highly communicable diseases;

the length and severity of the recent coronavirus ("COVID-19") outbreak, including its impacts across our business on demand, operations in China and the Far East and knock-on impacts to our global operations;

the impact of adverse weather and natural disasters;



future sales of our common units in the public market;

any malfunction or disruption of information technology systems and networks that our operations rely on or any impact of a possible cybersecurity event;

our business strategy and other plans and objectives for future operations; and

other factors detailed in this Annual Report and from time to time in our periodic reports.
Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report are estimates reflecting the judgment of senior management and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties.  These forward-looking statements are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates that are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control.  Actual results may not occur or differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Accordingly, these forward-looking statements should be considered in light of various important factors, including those set forth in this Annual Report under the heading "Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors."
We undertake no obligation, and specifically decline any obligation, to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which such statement is made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.  New factors emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for us to predict all of these factors which may adversely affect our results.  Further, we cannot assess the effect of each such factor on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to be materially different from those contained in any forward-looking statement. Given these uncertainties, prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements.
We make no prediction or statement about the performance of our units or our debt securities. The various disclosures included in this Annual Report and in our other filings made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, that attempt to advise interested parties of the risks and factors that may affect our business, prospects and results of operations should be carefully reviewed and considered.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART I
 
1
ITEM 1.
IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
1
ITEM 2.
OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
1
ITEM 3.
KEY INFORMATION
1
ITEM 4.
INFORMATION ON THE PARTNERSHIP
42
ITEM 4A.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
71
ITEM 5.
OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
71
ITEM 6.
DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES
86
ITEM 7.
MAJOR UNITHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
89
ITEM 8.
FINANCIAL INFORMATION
97
ITEM 9.
THE OFFER AND LISTING.
100
ITEM 10.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
100
ITEM 11.
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
108
ITEM 12.
DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES
109
PART II
 
109
ITEM 13.
DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES
109
ITEM 14.
MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS
109
ITEM 15.
CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
109
ITEM 16.
[RESERVED]
110
ITEM 16A.
AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT
110
ITEM 16B.
CODE OF ETHICS
110
ITEM 16C.
PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES
111
ITEM 16D.
EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES
111
ITEM 16E.
PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS
111
ITEM 16F.
CHANGE IN REGISTRANTS' CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT
111
ITEM 16G.
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
111
ITEM 16H.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE
112
PART III
 
112
ITEM 17
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
112
ITEM 18
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
112
ITEM 19
EXHIBITS
113



PART I.
ITEM 1. IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
Not applicable.
ITEM 2. OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
Not applicable.
ITEM 3. KEY INFORMATION
A.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following table presents our selected historical consolidated financial and operational data as of and for each of the years in the five-year period ended December 31, 2019. The following financial data should be read in conjunction with "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects." Our selected historical consolidated financial data have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("U.S. GAAP"). Our selected historical consolidated financial information as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, and for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017 is derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included in "Item 18. Financial Statements" herein. Our selected historical consolidated financial information as of December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 and for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements that are not included in this Annual Report.
   
Year Ended December 31,
 
   
2019
   
2018
   
2017
   
2016
   
2015
 
STATEMENT OF INCOME
 
(In thousands of Dollars, except for units, per unit data and TCE rates )
 
Voyage revenues
 
$
130,901
   
$
127,135
   
$
138,990
   
$
169,851
   
$
145,202
 
Voyage expenses- including related party (1)
   
(2,709
)
   
(2,802
)
   
(3,619
)
   
(2,961
)
   
(2,804
)
Vessel operating expenses
   
(28,351
)
   
(25,042
)
   
(27,067
)
   
(26,451
)
   
(23,244
)
General and administrative expenses- including related party
   
(2,708
)
   
(2,209
)
   
(1,686
)
   
(1,885
)
   
(1,805
)
Management fees
   
(6,537
)
   
(6,347
)
   
(6,162
)
   
(5,999
)
   
(4,870
)
Depreciation
   
(30,680
)
   
(30,330
)
   
(30,319
)
   
(30,395
)
   
(24,387
)
Dry-docking and special survey costs
   
-
     
(7,422
)
   
(6,193
)
   
(81
)
   
-
 
Operating income
 
$
59,916
   
$
52,983
   
$
63,944
   
$
102,079
   
$
88,092
 
Interest income
   
2,331
     
1,051
     
203
     
-
     
35
 
Interest and finance costs
   
(58,591
)
   
(50,490
)
   
(46,281
)
   
(34,991
)
   
(27,974
)
Other, net
   
(43
)
   
69
     
(527
)
   
(234
)
   
(103
)
Net Income
 
$
3,613
   
$
3,613
   
$
17,339
   
$
66,854
   
$
60,050
 
                                         
EARNINGS/(LOSS) PER UNIT (basic and diluted):
                                       
Common Unit (basic and diluted)
 
$
(0.22
)
 
$
(0.11
)
 
$
0.27
   
$
1.69
   
$
1.60
 
Weighted average number of units outstanding (basic and diluted):
                                       
Common units
   
35,490,000
     
35,490,000
     
34,545,740
     
20,505,000
     
20,505,000
 
Cash distributions declared and paid per common unit
 
$
0.13
   
$
1.17
   
$
1.69
   
$
1.69
   
$
1.69
 
                                         

BALANCE SHEET DATA:
                             
Total current assets
 
$
18,172
   
$
112,963
   
$
70,404
   
$
60,195
   
$
25,814
 
Vessels, net
   
916,697
     
947,377
     
977,298
     
1,007,617
     
1,036,157
 
Total assets
   
989,187
     
1,063,436
     
1,054,319
     
1,106,676
     
1,108,103
 
Total current liabilities
   
64,635
     
272,742
     
22,898
     
53,056
     
51,353
 
Total long-term debt, including current portion, gross of deferred financing fees
   
663,000
     
722,800
     
727,600
     
722,500
     
688,333
 
Total partners' equity
   
313,707
     
326,485
     
318,318
     
367,836
     
367,838
 
                                         
CASH FLOW DATA:
                                       
Net cash provided by operating activities
 
$
43,177
   
$
42,994
   
$
59,339
   
$
103,618
   
$
96,944
 
Net cash used in investing activities
   
-
     
(409
)
   
-
     
(37,472
)
   
(205,045
)
Net cash (used in)/provided by financing activities*
   
(86,888
)
   
(132
)
   
(74,470
)
   
(32,844
)
   
121,445
 
FLEET PERFORMANCE DATA:
                                       
Number of vessels at the end of the year
   
6
     
6
     
6
     
6
     
6
 
Average number of vessels in operation (2)
   
6.0
     
6.0
     
6.0
     
6.0
     
5.0
 
Average age of vessels in operation at end of year (years)
   
9.4
     
8.4
     
7.4
     
6.4
     
5.4
 
Available Days (3)
   
2,190.0
     
2,144.7
     
2,140.3
     
2,196.0
     
1,836.0
 
Fleet utilization (4)
   
98.5
%
   
100
%
   
98
%
   
100
%
   
99
%
OTHER FINANCIAL DATA:
                                       
Time Charter Equivalent (in US dollars) (5)
 
$
58,535
   
$
57,972
   
$
63,249
   
$
75,997
   
$
77,559
 
Adjusted EBITDA (5)
 
$
90,357
   
$
96,094
   
$
107,545
   
$
139,531
   
$
113,202
 

1


*
Comparative amounts have been reclassified due to the current presentation of restricted cash following the adoption of ASU No. 2016-18-Statement of Cash Flows-Restricted Cash.
(1)
Voyage expenses include mainly commissions of 1.25% paid to our Manager.
(2)
Represents the number of vessels that constituted our Fleet for the relevant year, as measured by the sum of the number of days each vessel was a part of our Fleet during the period divided by the number of calendar days in the period.
(3)
Available Days are the total number of calendar days that our vessels were in our possession during a period, less the total number of scheduled off-hire days during the period associated with major repairs, or dry-dockings.
(4)
We calculate fleet utilization by dividing the number of our revenue earning days, which are the total number of Available Days of our vessels net of unscheduled off-hire days, during a period, by the number of our Available Days during that period. The shipping industry uses fleet utilization to measure a company's efficiency in finding employment for its vessels and minimizing the amount of days that its vessels are off hire for reasons other than scheduled off-hires for vessel upgrades, dry-dockings or special or intermediate surveys.
(5)
Non-GAAP Financial Information
TCE. Time charter equivalent rates, or TCE rates, are measures of the average daily revenue performance of a vessel. For time charters, this is calculated by dividing total voyage revenues, less any voyage expenses, by the number of Available Days during that period. Under a time charter, the charterer pays substantially all the vessel voyage related expenses. However, we may or will likely incur voyage related expenses when positioning or repositioning vessels before or after the period of a time charter, during periods of commercial waiting time or while off-hire during dry-docking or due to other unforeseen circumstances. The TCE rate is not a measure of financial performance under U.S. GAAP (non-GAAP measure), and should not be considered as an alternative to voyage revenues, the most directly comparable GAAP measure, or any other measure of financial performance presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. However, TCE rates are a standard shipping industry performance measure used primarily to compare period-to-period changes in a company's performance and to assist our management in making decisions regarding the deployment and use of our vessels and in evaluating their financial performance. Our calculations of TCE rates may not be comparable to those reported by other companies. The following table reflects the calculation of our TCE revenues for the periods presented, which are expressed in thousands of U.S. dollars) and TCE rates, which are expressed in U.S. dollars and Available Days):
   
Year Ended December 31,
 
(In thousands of Dollars, except for TCE rate data)
 
2019
   
2018
   
2017
   
2016
   
2015
 
Voyage revenues
 
$
130,901
   
$
127,135
   
$
138,990
   
$
169,851
   
$
145,202
 
Voyage expenses
 
$
(2,709
)
 
$
(2,802
)
 
$
(3,619
)
 
$
(2,961
)
 
$
(2,804
)
Time charter equivalent revenues
 
$
128,192
   
$
124,333
   
$
135,371
   
$
166,890
   
$
142,398
 
Total Available Days
   
2,190.0
     
2,144.7
     
2,140.3
     
2,196.0
     
1,836.0
 
Time charter equivalent (TCE) rate
 
$
58,535
   
$
57,972
   
$
63,249
   
$
75,997
   
$
77,559
 

ADJUSTED EBITDA. We define Adjusted EBITDA as earnings before interest and finance costs, net of interest income, gains/losses on derivative financial instruments (if any), taxes (when incurred), depreciation and amortization, class survey costs and significant non-recurring items. Adjusted EBITDA is used as a supplemental financial measure by management and external users of financial statements, such as investors, to assess our operating performance. We believe that Adjusted EBITDA assists our management and investors by providing useful information that increases the comparability of our operating performance from period to period and against the operating performance of other companies in our industry that provide Adjusted EBITDA information. This increased comparability is achieved by excluding the potentially disparate effects between periods or companies of interest, other financial items, depreciation and amortization and taxes, which items are affected by various and possibly changing financing methods, capital structure and historical cost basis and which items may significantly affect net income between periods. We believe that including Adjusted EBITDA as a measure of operating performance benefits investors in (a) selecting between investing in us and other investment alternatives, (b) monitoring our ongoing financial and operational strength, and (c) in assessing whether to continue to hold common units.
Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure of financial performance under U.S. GAAP, does not represent and should not be considered as an alternative to net income, operating income, cash flow from operating activities or any other measure of financial performance presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. Adjusted EBITDA excludes some, but not all, items that affect net income and these measures may vary among other companies. Therefore, Adjusted EBITDA as presented below may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies. The following table reconciles Adjusted EBITDA to net income, the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP financial measure, for the periods presented:
2


Reconciliation of Net Income to Adjusted EBITDA
(In thousands of U.S.  dollars)
                             
Reconciliation to Net Income
                             
Net Income
 
$
3,613
   
$
3,613
   
$
17,339
   
$
66,854
   
$
60,050
 
Net interest and finance costs (1)
   
56,260
     
49,439
     
46,078
     
34,991
     
27,939
 
Depreciation
   
30,680
     
30,330
     
30,319
     
30,395
     
24,387
 
Class survey costs
   
-
     
7,422
     
6,193
     
81
     
-
 
Amortization of fair value of acquired time charter
   
-
     
5,267
     
7,247
     
7,268
     
218
 
Amortization of deferred revenue
   
(377
)
   
(45
)
   
369
     
(58
)
   
608
 
Amortization of deferred charges
   
181
     
68
     
-
     
-
     
-
 
Adjusted EBITDA
 
$
90,357
   
$
96,094
   
$
107,545
   
$
139,531
   
$
113,202
 

(1) Includes interest and finance costs, net of interest income, and (gain)/ loss on derivative instruments, if any.
B.
CAPITALIZATION AND INDEBTEDNESS
Not applicable.
C.
REASONS FOR THE OFFER AND USE OF PROCEEDS
Not applicable.
D.
RISK FACTORS
The following risks relate principally to the industry in which we operate and to our business in general.  Other risks relate principally to the securities market and ownership of our securities, including our common units, our 9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units or our Series A Preferred Units and our 8.75% Series B Fixed to Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Units or our Series B Preferred Units. For a description of the changes to our general strategy, including the restriction on distributions to our common unitholders under the terms and subject to the conditions of the $675 Million Credit Facility, please see "Item 4. Information on the Partnership—B. Business Overview" and "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—$675 Million Credit Facility." The occurrence of any of the events described in this section could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, operating results or cash available for distribution on our units and the trading price of our securities.
Risks Relating to our Partnership
Our Fleet consists of only six LNG carriers. Any limitation in the availability or operation of these vessels could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and could significantly reduce or eliminate our ability to pay distributions on our outstanding units, including our preferred units.
Our Fleet consists of only six LNG carriers. If any of our vessels is unable to generate revenues as a result of off-hire time, early termination of the time charter in effect or failure to secure new charters at charter hire rates as favorable as our average historical rates or at all, our future liquidity, cash flows, results of operations, and ability to make quarterly and other distributions to the holders of our outstanding units, including the preferred units, could be materially adversely affected.
Our ability to grow may be adversely affected by our cash distribution policy.

Our cash distribution policy is consistent with the terms of our Partnership Agreement, which requires that we distribute all of our available cash quarterly. There is no guarantee that unitholders will receive quarterly distributions from us as our cash distribution policy is subject to certain restrictions and may be changed or eliminated at any time. In particular, under the terms of the $675 Million Credit Facility (as defined blow), the Partnership is restricted from paying distributions to its common unitholders while borrowings are outstanding under the $675 Million Credit Facility.
Our business strategy currently is to focus our capital allocation on debt repayment, prioritizing balance sheet strength, in order to reposition ourselves for potential future growth if our cost of capital allows us to access debt and equity capital on acceptable terms. As such, our growth may not be as fast as businesses that reinvest their available cash to expand ongoing operations. Accordingly, our cash distribution policy may significantly impair our ability to meet our financial needs or to grow.
3


We currently derive all our revenue and cash flow from a limited number of charterers and the loss of any of these charterers could cause us to suffer losses or otherwise adversely affect our business.
We have derived, and believe we will continue to derive, all of our revenues from a limited number of charterers, such as Gazprom, Equinor and Yamal. For the year ended December 31, 2019, during which we derived our operating revenues from four charterers, Gazprom accounted for 47%, Yamal accounted for 31%, Equinor accounted for 16% and a major energy company accounted for 6%, of our total revenues. All of the charters for our Fleet have fixed terms but may be terminated early due to certain events, including but not limited to the charterer's failure to make charter payments to us because of financial inability, disagreements with us or otherwise. The ability of each of our counterparties to perform its respective obligations under a charter with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the LNG shipping industry, prevailing prices for natural gas, COVID-19 and similar epidemics and pandemic and the overall financial condition of the counterparty. Should a counterparty fail to honor its obligations under an agreement with us, we may be unable to realize revenue under that charter and may sustain losses, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows, results of operations and ability to pay any distributions, including reduced distributions, to our unitholders.
In addition, a charterer may exercise its right to terminate its charter if, among other things:

the vessel suffers a total loss or is damaged beyond repair;

we default on our obligations under the charter, including prolonged periods of vessel off-hire;

war or hostilities significantly disrupt the free trade of the vessel;

the vessel is requisitioned by any governmental authority; or

a prolonged force majeure event occurs, such as war, political unrest or a pandemic which prevents the chartering of the vessel, in each such event in accordance with the terms and conditions of the respective charter.
In addition, the charter payments we receive may be reduced if the vessel does not perform according to certain contractual specifications. For example, charter hire may be reduced if the average vessel speed falls below the speed we have guaranteed or if the amount of fuel consumed to power the vessel exceeds the guaranteed amount.
Furthermore, in depressed market conditions, our charterers may no longer need a vessel that is then under charter or may be able to obtain a comparable vessel at lower rates. As a result, charterers may seek to renegotiate the terms of their existing charter agreements or avoid their obligations under those contracts. If our charterers fail to meet their obligations to us or attempt to renegotiate our charter agreements, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for such vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure may be at lower rates.
If any of our charters are terminated, we may be unable to re-deploy the related vessel on terms as favorable to us as our current charters, or at all. If we are unable to re-deploy a vessel for which the charter has been terminated, we will not receive any revenues from that vessel, and we may be required to pay ongoing expenses necessary to maintain the vessel in proper operating condition.  Any of these factors may decrease our revenue and cash flows.  Further, the loss of any of our charterers, charters or vessels, or a decline in charter hire under any of our charters, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Dry-dockings of our vessels require significant expenditures and result in loss of revenue as our vessels are off-hire during the dry-docking period. Any significant increase in either the number of off-hire days or in the costs of any repairs or investments carried out during the dry-docking period could have a material adverse effect on our profitability and our cash flows. Given the potential for unforeseen issues arising during dry-docking, we may not be able to predict accurately the time required to dry-dock any of our vessels. If one or more of our vessels is dry-docked longer than expected or if the cost of repairs is greater than we had budgeted, there may a material adverse effect on our results of operations and our cash flows, including any cash available for distribution to unitholders. We expect that the next scheduled dry-dockings for all our vessels will be longer and more costly than normal as a result of the need to install ballast water treatment systems ("BWTS") on each vessel in order to comply with regulatory requirements.
Due to the small size of our Fleet, any delay in the completion time of the dry-dockings or overrun of costs caused by additional days of work could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and could significantly reduce or eliminate our ability to pay any distributions on either or both of our common or preferred units.
4


None of our vessels are scheduled to be dry-docked in 2020.
Our ability to raise capital to repay or refinance our debt obligations or to fund our maintenance or growth capital expenditures will depend on certain financial, business and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. The value of our common units may make it difficult or impossible for us to access the equity or equity-linked capital markets. To the extent that we are unable to finance these obligations and expenditures with cash from operations or incremental bank loans or by issuing debt or equity securities, our ability to make cash distributions may be diminished, or our financial leverage may increase, or our unitholders may be diluted. Our business may be adversely affected if we need to access sources of funding which are more expensive and/or more restrictive.
To fund our existing and future debt obligations and capital expenditures and any future growth, we may be required to use cash from operations, incur borrowings, and/or seek to access other financing sources including the capital markets. Our access to potential funding sources and our future financial and operating performance will be affected by prevailing economic conditions and financial, business, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. If we are unable to access the capital markets or raise additional bank financing or generate sufficient cash flow to meet our debt, capital expenditure and other business requirements, we may be forced to take actions such as:

restructuring our debt;

seeking additional debt or equity capital;

selling assets;

reducing distributions relating to our preferred units;

reducing, delaying or cancelling our business activities, acquisitions, investments or capital expenditures; or

seeking bankruptcy protection.
Such measures might not be successful, available on acceptable terms or enable us to meet our debt, capital expenditure and other obligations. Some of these measures may adversely affect our business and reputation. In addition, our financing agreements may restrict our ability to implement some of these measures. Use of cash from operations and possible future sale of certain assets will reduce cash available for distribution to unitholders. Our ability to obtain bank financing or to access the capital markets may be limited by our financial condition at the time of any such financing or offering as well as by adverse market conditions. The value of our common units may not enable us able to access the equity or equity-linked capital markets. Even if we are successful in obtaining the necessary funds, the terms of such future financings could limit our ability to pay cash distributions to our unitholders or operate our business as currently conducted. In addition, incurring additional debt may significantly increase our interest expense and financial leverage, and issuing additional equity securities may result in significant unitholder dilution and would increase the aggregate amount of cash required to maintain our quarterly distributions, which we currently only make to our preferred unitholders.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is dynamic and expanding. The continuation of this outbreak likely will have, and the emergence of other epidemic or pandemic crises could have, material adverse effects on our business, results of operations, or financial condition.
The novel coronavirus pandemic is dynamic and expanding, and its ultimate scope, duration and effects are uncertain. We expect that this pandemic, and any future epidemic or pandemic crises, could result in direct and indirect adverse effects on our industry and customers, which in turn may impact our business, results of operations and financial condition. Effects of the current pandemic include, or may include, among others:

deterioration of worldwide, regional or national economic conditions and activity, which could further reduce or prolong the recent significant declines in energy prices, or adversely affect global demand for LNG, demand for our services, and charter and spot rates;
5



disruptions to our operations as a result of the potential health impact on our employees and crew, and on the workforces of our customers and business partners;

disruptions to our business from, or additional costs related to, new regulations, directives or practices implemented in response to the pandemic, such as travel restrictions (including for any of our onshore personnel or any of our crew members to timely embark or disembark from our vessels), increased inspection regimes, hygiene measures (such as quarantining and physical distancing) or increased implementation of remote working arrangements;

potential shortages or a lack of access to required spare parts for our vessels, or potential delays in any repairs to, or scheduled or unscheduled maintenance or modifications or dry docking of, our vessels, as a result of a lack of berths available by shipyards from a shortage in labor or due to other business disruptions;

potential delays in vessel inspections and related certifications by class societies, customers or government agencies;

potential reduced cash flows and financial condition, including potential liquidity constraints;

reduced access to capital, including the ability to refinance any existing obligations, as a result of any credit tightening generally or due to continued declines in global financial markets, including to the prices of publicly-traded securities of us, our peers and of listed companies generally;

a reduced ability to opportunistically sell any of our LNG vessels on the second-hand market, either as a result of a lack of buyers or a general decline in the value of second-hand vessels;

a decline in the market value of our vessels, which may cause us to (a) incur impairment charges or (b) breach certain covenants under our financing agreements;

disruptions, delays or cancellations in the construction of new LNG projects (including production, liquefaction, regasification, storage and distribution facilities), which could limit or adversely affect our ability to pursue future growth opportunities; and

potential deterioration in the financial condition and prospects of our customers or joint venture partners, or attempts by customers or third parties to invoke force majeure contractual clauses as a result of delays or other disruptions.
Although disruption and effects from the novel coronavirus pandemic may be temporary, given the dynamic nature of these circumstances and the worldwide nature of our business and operations, the duration of any business disruption and the related financial impact to us cannot be reasonably estimated at this time, but could materially affect our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The waiver of or failure to consummate or integrate acquisitions that we undertake in a timely and cost-effective manner, or at all, could have an adverse effect on our business, our plans for growth and our financial condition and results of operations.
Acquisitions that expand our Fleet have been an important component of our business strategy. Pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement, we have the option, but not the obligation, to purchase from our Sponsor the Optional Vessels, which consist of the 49% equity interests of entities that own the vessels Georgiy Brusilov, which was delivered in the fourth quarter of 2018 to its multi-year charter, the Boris Davydov and the Nikolay Zubov, which were delivered in the first quarter of 2019 to their multi-year charters, and have entered into debt and other agreements. We continue to have the right but not the obligation to purchase the Optional Vessels for 24 months following the delivery of such vessels to their respective charterers.  We may also mutually agree with our Sponsor, with the approval of our Conflicts Committee to extend, or further extend, as applicable each purchase option exercise period. However, there is no assurance that our Sponsor will grant an extension requested by us.
Our growth strategy going forward dependent on, among other things, on a continuing relationship with our Sponsor and other factors related to that relationship, some of which are beyond our control including our ability to (i) maintain a drop-down pipeline of existing or newbuild vessels from our Sponsor, (ii) obtain the required consents from lenders and charterers for the acquisition of vessels from our Sponsor, and (iii) finance our business through equity and debt capital markets transactions at terms that are favorable to us, which is highly dependent on favorable market conditions.
Furthermore, we are not obligated to purchase any of the Optional Vessels at the applicable determined price, and, accordingly, we may not complete the purchase of any of such vessels. Moreover, if we are able to agree on a price with our Sponsor, there are no assurances that we will be able to obtain adequate financing on terms that are acceptable to us or that the financing assumed will on favorable terms to us. In light of recent master limited partnership ("MLP") market volatility and the fall in the value of our common units and preferred units, it may be more difficult for us to complete an accretive acquisition.
6


We believe that other acquisition opportunities with our Sponsor, parties that are related to our Sponsor and third-parties may arise from time to time, and any such acquisition could be significant. Any acquisition of a vessel or business may not be profitable at or after the time of such acquisition and may be cash flow negative or may not generate sufficient cash flow to justify the investment. In addition, our acquisition growth strategy exposes us to risks that may harm or have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions (reduced or at all) to our unitholders, including risks that we may:

fail to realize anticipated benefits, such as new customer relationships, cost-savings or cash flow enhancements;

be unable to attract, hire, train or retain qualified shore and seafaring personnel to manage and operate our growing business and Fleet;

decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of available cash or borrowing capacity to finance acquisitions;

significantly increase our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance acquisitions;

incur or assume unanticipated liabilities, losses or costs associated with the business or vessels acquired; or

incur other significant charges, such as impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets, asset devaluation or restructuring charges.
Such acquisition and investment opportunities may not result in the consummation of a transaction. In addition, we may not be able to obtain acceptable terms for the required financing for any such acquisition or investment that arises. We cannot predict the effect, if any, that any announcement or consummation of an acquisition would have on the trading price of our common units or preferred units.
Our future acquisitions could present a number of anticipated as well as unanticipated risks, including the risk of incorrect assumptions regarding the future results of acquired vessels or businesses or expected cost reductions or other synergies expected to be realized as a result of acquiring vessels or businesses, the risk of failing to successfully and timely integrate the operations or management of any acquired vessels or businesses and the risk of diverting management's attention from existing operations or other priorities. We may also be subject to additional costs and expenses related to compliance with various international or domestic laws in connection with such acquisition. If we fail to consummate and integrate our acquisitions, including the acquisitions of the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor, in a timely and cost-effective manner, or at all, our business, plans for future growth, financial condition, results of operations and cash available for distribution could be materially and adversely affected.
We may be subject to certain risks if we acquire the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor.
If we acquire any or all of the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor pursuant to the terms and subject to the conditions of the Omnibus Agreement, it is expected that we will own such vessels jointly with Sinotrans Shipping LNG Limited, or Sinotrans, and China LNG Shipping (Holdings) Limited, or China LNG Shipping, and we will become party to the shareholders' agreement which governs this joint venture relationship.  Since our Sponsor owns only a 49% interest in the entities that own the vessels that comprise the Optional Vessels, we will not own a majority of the ownership interests in such entities and, as such, we may not be able to exercise control over such entities or the Optional Vessels.  In addition, while we expect that the vessel owning entities will distribute all of their available cash to us and their other holders, we cannot guarantee whether such entities will do so, if at all.
Furthermore, all of the vessels that comprise the Optional Vessels are employed by Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project. Accordingly, such vessels have highly specialized technical specifications to meet the requirements for the Yamal LNG Project and will have limited redeployment prospects to operate as conventional trading LNG carriers if the Yamal charters are terminated for any reason outside our control. To the extent these vessels are no longer employed under the Yamal LNG Project, we may lose our option to purchase our Sponsor's ownership interest in these vessels under the Omnibus Agreement, and further, if such contracts are terminated after we have acquired such ownership interest, we may be unable to re-charter or sell these vessels without making significant capital expenditures to reformat these vessels for trading in other markets, if possible. The occurrence of any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, and ability distribute cash to our unitholders.
7


Our Sponsor and the joint venture entities that own the Optional Vessels (the "Joint Venture Entities") may be unable to service their debt requirements and comply with the provisions contained in the credit agreements secured by the vessels that comprise the Optional Vessels. If our Sponsor and Joint Venture Entities fail to perform their obligations under these debt agreements or any other agreement relating to the Optional Vessels, our business and plans for growth through the acquisition of Optional Vessels may be materially affected.
Our Sponsor and the Joint Venture Entities may be unable to fulfill their  obligations under the debt and other agreements that are secured by or relate to the vessels that comprise the Optional Vessels. Failure of our Sponsor and the Joint Venture Entities to perform their obligations under the debt, including paying scheduled installments and complying with certain covenants, may constitute an event of default under these secured loan agreements. If an event of default occurs under these loan agreements, our Sponsor's lenders could accelerate the outstanding loans and declare all amounts borrowed due and payable. In this case, if our Sponsor is unable to obtain a waiver or amendment or does not otherwise have enough cash on hand to repay the outstanding borrowings, its lenders may, among other things, foreclose their liens on the vessels that comprise the Optional Vessels. In the event we agree to acquire an Optional Vessel, if our Sponsor or the Joint Venture Entities fail to perform their obligations under other agreements governing the Optional Vessels, we might not be able to acquire such Optional Vessel. In these cases, we may not be able to exercise our rights under the Omnibus Agreement, which may have a material adverse effect on our business and our plans for growth through the acquisition of Optional Vessels.
In addition, since our Sponsor is a private company and there is little or no publicly available information about it, we or an investor could have little advance warning of potential financial or other problems that might affect our Sponsor that could have a material adverse effect on us.
We are subject to certain risks with respect to our contractual counterparties, and failure of such counterparties to perform their obligations under such contracts could cause us to sustain significant losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We have entered, and may enter in the future, into contracts, charters, newbuilding and conversion contracts with shipyards, debt agreements with financial institutions, our Sponsor and other counterparts, interest rate swaps, foreign currency swaps, equity swaps and other agreements. Such agreements subject us to counterparty risks.  The ability of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under a contract with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the overall financial condition of the counterparty and work stoppages or other labor disturbances, including as a result of the recent outbreak of COVID-19.  Should a counterparty fail to honor its obligations under agreements with us, we could sustain significant losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.  We currently derive all our revenue and cash flow from a limited number of charterers and the loss of any of these charterers could cause us to suffer losses or otherwise adversely affect our business."
We may not have sufficient cash from operations following the establishment of cash reserves and payment of fees and expenses to enable us to pay distributions on our outstanding units.
Our Board of Directors makes determinations regarding the payment of distributions in its sole discretion and in accordance with our Partnership Agreement and applicable law, and there is no guarantee that we will make or continue to make distributions to our unitholders in the same amount that we have in prior quarters or at all in the future.  In addition, the markets in which we operate our vessels are volatile and we cannot predict with certainty the amount of cash, if any, that will be available for distribution in any period and thus, we may pay distributions in a lower amount or not all. The level of future cash distributions to our unitholders, which have been suspended with respect to our common units by the Board of Directors of the Partnership will be subject to, among other factors, including, without limitation, the terms and conditions contained in our existing or future debt agreements, market conditions and the cash we generate from operations.    Pursuant to the terms of the $675 Million Credit Facility, the Partnership is prohibited from paying distributions on its common units.  In the event of a default under the $675 Million Credit Facility, the Partnership is prohibited from paying distributions to its preferred unitholders.
As noted above, the amount of cash we can distribute on our common and preferred units depends in part on the amount of cash we generate from our operations, which may fluctuate from quarter to quarter based on the risks described in this section, including, among other things:

the rates we obtain from our charters;

the level of our operating costs, such as the cost of crews and insurance;
8



the continued availability of natural gas production;

demand for LNG;

supply of LNG carriers;

prevailing global and regional economic and political conditions, including the recent worldwide economic downturn caused by the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus;

currency exchange rate fluctuations; and

the effect of governmental regulations and maritime self-regulatory organization standards on the conduct of our business.
In addition, the actual amount of cash available for distribution to our unitholders will depend on other factors, including:

the level of capital expenditures we make, including for maintaining or replacing vessels, building new vessels, acquiring secondhand vessels and complying with regulations;

the number of unscheduled off-hire days for our Fleet and the timing of, and number of days required for, scheduled dry-docking of our vessels;

our debt service requirements and restrictions on distributions contained in our debt instruments;

the level of debt we will incur to fund future acquisitions, including any debt we may incur as a result of acquiring the Optional Vessels that we have the right (but not the obligation) to acquire from our Sponsor, pursuant to the terms and subject to the conditions of the Omnibus Agreement (defined below). See "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions";

fluctuations in interest rates;

fluctuations in our working capital needs;

variable tax rates;

the expected cost of and our ability to comply with environmental and regulatory requirements, including with respect to emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, as well as future changes in such requirements or other actions taken by regulatory authorities, governmental organizations, classification societies and standards imposed by our charterers applicable to our business;

our ability to make, and the level of, working capital borrowings;

the performance of our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute cash to us; and

the amount of any cash reserves established by our Board of Directors.
The amount of cash we generate from our operations may differ materially from our profit or loss for the period, which will be affected by non-cash items. We may also incur expenses or liabilities or be subject to other circumstances in the future that reduce or eliminate the amount of cash that we have available for distributions.  As a result of this and the other factors mentioned above, we may make cash distributions during periods when we record losses and may not make cash distributions during periods when we record earnings.
Our future operational success depends on our ability to expand relationships with our existing charterers, establish relationships with new charterers and obtain new time charter contracts, for which we will face substantial competition from established companies with significant resources and potential new entrants.
We have secured an estimated contract backlog of $1.23 billion for the vessels in our Fleet as of the date of this Annual Report, $0.17 billion of which is a variable hire element contained in certain time charter contracts with Yamal. The hire rate on these time charter contracts with Yamal is calculated based on two components—a capital cost component and an operating cost component. The capital cost component is a fixed daily amount. The daily amount of the operating cost component, which is intended to pass the operating costs of the vessel to the charterer in their entirety including dry-docking costs, is set annually and adjusted at the end of each year to compensate us for the actual costs we incur in operating the vessel. Dry-docking expenses are budgeted in advance within the year of the dry-dock and are reimbursed by Yamal immediately following a dry-docking. The actual amount of revenues earned in respect of such variable hire rate may therefore differ from the amounts included in the revenue backlog estimate due to the yearly variations in the respective vessels' operating costs. Notwithstanding our current estimated contracted backlog, one of our principal objectives is to enter into additional multi-year time charters upon the expiration or early termination of our existing charter arrangements, and we may also seek to enter into additional multi-year time charter contracts in connection with an expansion of our Fleet. The process of obtaining multi-year charters for LNG carriers is highly competitive and generally involves an intensive screening procedure and competitive bids, which often extends for several months. We believe LNG carrier time charters are awarded based upon a variety of factors relating to the ship and the ship operator, including:
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size, age, technical specifications and condition of the ship;

efficiency of ship operation and reputation for operation of highly specialized vessels;

LNG shipping experience and quality of ship operations;

shipping industry relationships and reputation for customer service;

technical ability and reputation for operation of highly specialized ships;

quality and experience of officers and crew;

safety record;

the ability to finance ships at competitive rates and financial stability generally;

relationships with shipyards and the ability to get suitable berths;

its willingness to assume operational risks;

construction management experience, including the ability to obtain on-time delivery of new ships according to customer specifications; and

competitiveness of the bid in terms of overall price.
We expect substantial competition for providing marine transportation services for potential LNG projects from a number of experienced companies, including other independent ship owners as well as state-sponsored entities and major energy companies that own and operate LNG carriers and may compete with independent owners by using their fleets to carry LNG for third-parties. Some of these competitors have significantly greater financial resources and larger fleets than we have. A number of marine transportation companies, including companies with strong reputations and extensive resources and experience, have entered the LNG transportation market in recent years, and there are other ship owners and managers who may also attempt to participate in the LNG market in the future. This increased competition may cause greater price competition for time charters. As a result of these factors, we may be unable to expand our relationships with existing charterers or to obtain new time charter contracts on a profitable basis, if at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our unitholders.
Any charter termination would likely have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our vessels are employed with only three different charterers. Our existing and future charterers have and will likely have the right to terminate our current or future charters in certain circumstances, such as loss of the ship or damage to it beyond repair, defaults by us in our obligations under the charter, or off-hire beyond allowances contained in the charter agreement.
A termination right under one vessel's time charter would not automatically give the charterer the right to terminate its other charter contracts with us. However, a charter termination could materially affect our relationship with the customer and our reputation in the LNG shipping industry, and in some circumstances the event giving rise to the termination right could potentially impact multiple charters that we have entered with the same charterer. Accordingly, the existence of any right of termination could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distribution to our common and preferred unitholders.
Our future capital needs are uncertain and we may need to raise additional funds in the future.
Our future funding requirements will depend on many factors, including the cost and timing of vessel acquisitions, the cost of retrofitting or modifying existing ships as a result of technological advances, changes in applicable environmental or other regulations or standards, customer requirements or otherwise. Our ability to obtain bank financing or to access the capital markets for future offerings may be limited by our financial condition at the time of any such financing or offering, as well as by adverse market conditions that are beyond our control.
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Obtaining additional funds on acceptable terms may not be possible. If we raise additional funds by issuing equity or equity-linked securities, our unitholders may experience dilution or reduced or no distributions per unit. Debt financing, if available, may involve covenants restricting our operations or our ability to incur additional debt, or to pay distributions consistent with our past practices or otherwise. In addition, we are subject to a number of restrictions in our existing debt agreement, which include, among others, a restriction from paying distributions to our common unitholders while borrowings under the facility are outstanding, and our preferred unitholders, if there is an event of default while the facility remains outstanding. Pursuant to the terms of the $675 million Credit Facility, it is considered a change of control, which could allow the lenders to declare the facility payable within ten days,  if, among other things, (i)  Dynagas Holdings Ltd. ceases to own 30% of our total common units outstanding, (ii) any person or persons acting in consent (other than certain permitted holders as defined therein) own a higher percentage of our total common units than in Dynagas LNG Partners LP ("Parent") than our Sponsor and/or have the ability to control, either directly or indirectly, the affairs or composition of the majority of the board of directors or the board of managers of the Parent, (iii) Mr. Georgios Prokopiou ceases to be our Chairman and/or member of our board, or (iv) Dynagas GP LLC ceases to be our general partner. The terms and conditions of our existing debt agreement therefore, if applicable, limit or prevent us from issuing new equity that may reduce our Sponsor's ownership percentage below the required 30%.
We may lack sufficient cash to pay distributions to our unitholders at a reduced level or at all due to our current and future funding requirements, refinancing needs, decreases in net revenues or increases in operating expenses, principal and interest payments on outstanding debt, tax expenses, working capital requirements, maintenance and replacement capital expenditures or anticipated or unanticipated cash needs. Any debt or additional equity financing raised may contain unfavorable terms to us or our unitholders. If we are unable to raise adequate funds, we may have to liquidate some or all of our assets, or delay, reduce the scope of, or eliminate some or all of our fleet expansion plans. Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our common and preferred unitholders.
We are exposed to volatility in the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, and if volatility in LIBOR occurs, it could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
LIBOR is the subject of recent national, international and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. These reforms and other pressures may cause LIBOR to be eliminated or to perform differently than in the past. The consequences of these developments cannot be entirely predicted, but could include an increase in the cost of our variable rate indebtedness and obligations. The amounts outstanding under our $675 Million Credit Facility have been, and amounts under additional credit facilities that we may enter in the future will generally be, advanced at a floating rate based on LIBOR, which has been volatile in prior years, which can affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, and which, in turn, could have an adverse effect on our earnings and cash flow. In addition, in recent years, LIBOR has been at relatively low levels, and may rise in the future as the current low interest rate environment comes to an end. Our financial condition could be materially adversely affected at any time that we have not entered into interest rate hedging arrangements to hedge our exposure to the interest rates applicable to our credit facilities and any other financing arrangements we may enter into in the future. Moreover, even if we enter into interest rate swaps or other derivative instruments for purposes of managing our interest rate exposure, our hedging strategies may not be effective and we may incur substantial losses.
LIBOR has historically been volatile, with the spread between LIBOR and the prime lending rate widening significantly at times. These conditions are the result of the disruptions in the international credit markets. Because the interest rates borne by our outstanding indebtedness fluctuate with changes in LIBOR, if this volatility were to occur, it would affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, which in turn, could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
Furthermore, the calculation of interest in most financing agreements in our industry has been based on published LIBOR rates. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA"), which regulates LIBOR, announced that the continuation of LIBOR in its current form is not guaranteed after 2021. Due in part to uncertainty relating to the LIBOR calculation process in recent years, it is likely that LIBOR will be phased out in the future. There is therefore no guarantee the LIBOR reference rate will continue in its current form post 2021. Various alternative reference rates are being considered in the financial community. As a result, lenders have insisted on provisions that entitle the lenders, in their discretion, to replace published LIBOR as the base for the interest calculation with their cost-of-funds rate. If we are required to agree to such a provision in future financing agreements, our lending costs could increase significantly, which would have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
In addition, the banks currently reporting information used to set LIBOR will likely stop such reporting after 2021, when their commitment to reporting information ends.  The Alternative Reference Rate Committee, a committee convened by the Federal Reserve that includes major market participants, has proposed an alternative rate to replace U.S. Dollar LIBOR: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR. The impact of such a transition from LIBOR to SOFR could be significant for us. The counterparties to our derivative financial instruments have been major financial institutions, which helped us to manage our exposure to nonperformance of our counterparties under our debt agreements. We have not entered into any derivative instruments such as interest rate swaps since our IPO.
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In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations, we may use interest rate derivatives to effectively fix some of our floating rate debt obligations. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments, if any, may effectively protect us from adverse interest rate movements. The use of interest rate derivatives may affect our results through mark to market valuation of these derivatives. Also, adverse movements in interest rate derivatives may require us to post cash as collateral, which may impact our free cash position. Interest rate derivatives may also be impacted by the transition from LIBOR to SOFR or other alternative rates. We expect our sensitivity to interest rate changes to increase in the future if we enter into additional debt agreements in connection with our potential acquisition of the Optional Vessels or other vessels from affiliated or unaffiliated third-parties.
We have previously entered into and may selectively in the future enter into derivative contracts to hedge our overall exposure to interest rate risk exposure. Entering into swaps and derivatives transactions is inherently risky and presents various possibilities for incurring significant expenses. The derivatives strategies that we employ in the future may not be successful or effective, and we could, as a result, incur substantial additional interest costs and recognize losses on such arrangements in our financial statements. Such risk may have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are a non-accelerated filer, and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to us will make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are currently a "non-accelerated filer", as those terms are defined in the Securities Act.  Accordingly, we take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not a "non-accelerated filers," in particular, reduced disclosure obligations regarding exemptions from the provisions of Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 requiring that independent registered public accounting firms provide an attestation report on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting. Decreased disclosures in our SEC filings due to our status as a "non-accelerated filer" may make it harder for investors to analyze our results of operations and financial prospects.

We cannot predict if investors will find our common stock less attractive if we rely on exemptions applicable to smaller reporting companies and non-accelerated filers. If some investors find our common stock less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our common stock and our share price may be more volatile.

The control of our General Partner may be transferred to a third-party without unitholder consent.
Our General Partner may transfer its General Partner interest to a third-party in a merger or in a sale of all or substantially all of its assets without the consent of the unitholders.  In addition, our Partnership Agreement does not prohibit the ability of the members of our General Partner from transferring their respective membership interests in our General Partner to a third-party.
Our Sponsor and its affiliates may compete with us.
Pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement with our Sponsor and our General Partner, our Sponsor and its affiliates (other than us, and our subsidiaries) generally have agreed, for the term of the Omnibus Agreement, not to acquire, own, operate or contract for any LNG carriers acquired or placed under contracts with an initial term of four or more years. The Omnibus Agreement, however, contains significant exceptions which include, among other things, the owning and operating of the Optional Vessels that may allow our Sponsor or any of its affiliates to compete with us, which could harm our business. Our Sponsor and its affiliates may compete with us, subject to the restrictions contained in the Omnibus Agreement, and could own and operate LNG carriers under charters of four years or more that may compete with our vessels if we do not acquire such vessels when they are offered to us pursuant to the terms of the Omnibus Agreement.  See "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions."
Mr. Tony Lauritzen, our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Gregos, our Chief Financial Officer, and certain other officers do not devote all of their time to our business, which may hinder our ability to operate successfully.
Mr. Tony Lauritzen, our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Gregos, our Chief Financial Officer, and certain other officers who perform executive officer functions for us, are not required to work full-time on our affairs and are involved in other business activities with our Sponsor and its affiliates, which may result in their spending less time than is appropriate or necessary to manage our business successfully. Based solely on the anticipated relative sizes of our Fleet and the fleet owned by our Sponsor and its affiliates over the next twelve months, we estimate that Mr. Lauritzen, Mr. Gregos, and certain other officers may spend a substantial portion of their monthly business time on our business activities and their remaining time on the business of our Sponsor and its affiliates. However, the actual allocation of time could vary significantly from time to time depending on various circumstances and needs of the businesses, such as the relative levels of strategic activities of the businesses. As a result, there could be material competition for the time and effort of our officers who also provide services to our General Partner's affiliates, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
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Unitholders have limited voting rights, and our Partnership Agreement restricts the voting rights of our unitholders that own more than 4.9% of our common units.
Unlike the holders of common stock in a corporation, holders of common units have only limited voting rights on matters affecting our business. On those matters that are submitted to a vote of common unitholders, each record holder of a common unit may vote according to the holder's percentage interest in us of all holders entitled to vote on such matter, although additional limited partners interests having special voting rights could be issued.
Holders of the Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units generally have no voting rights. However, holders of Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units have limited voting rights as described under "—Voting Rights."
Except as described below regarding a person or group owning more than 4.9% of any class or series of limited partner interests then outstanding, limited partners on the record date will be entitled to notice of, and to vote at, meetings of our limited partners and to act upon matters for which approvals may be solicited.
We will hold a meeting of the limited partners every year to elect one or more members of our Board of Directors and to vote on any other matters that are properly brought before the meeting. Any action that is required or permitted to be taken by our limited partners, or any applicable class thereof, may be taken either at a meeting of the applicable limited partners or without a meeting if consents in writing describing the action so taken are signed by holders of the number of limited partner interests necessary to authorize or take that action at a meeting. Meetings of our limited partners may be called by our Board of Directors or by limited partners owning at least 20% of the outstanding limited partner interests of the class for which a meeting is proposed. Limited partners may vote either in person or by proxy at meetings. The holders of a majority of the outstanding limited partner interests of the class, classes or series for which a meeting has been called, represented in person or by proxy, will constitute a quorum unless any action by the limited partners requires approval by holders of a greater percentage of the limited partner interests, in which case the quorum will be the greater percentage.
Each record holder of a unit may vote according to the holder's percentage interest in us, although additional limited partner interests having special voting rights could be issued. However, to preserve our ability to be exempt from U.S. federal income tax under Section 883 of the Code, if at any time any person or group, other than our General Partner and its affiliates, or a direct or subsequently approved transferee of our General Partner or its affiliates or a transferee approved by the Board of Directors, acquires, in the aggregate, beneficial ownership of more than 4.9% of any class or series of our limited partner interests then outstanding, that person or group will lose voting rights on all of its limited partner interests of such class or series in excess of 4.9%, except for the Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units, and such limited partner interests will not be considered to be outstanding when sending notices of a meeting of limited partners, calculating required votes (except for nominating a person for election to our Board of Directors), determining the presence of a quorum, or for other similar purposes. The voting rights of any such limited partner interests in excess of 4.9% will effectively be redistributed pro rata among the other limited partner interests (as applicable) holding less than 4.9% of the voting power of such class or series. Our General Partner, its affiliates and persons who acquired limited partner interests with the prior approval of our Board of Directors will not be subject to this 4.9% limitation except with respect to voting their common units in the election of the elected directors. Units held in nominee or street name account will be voted by the broker or other nominee in accordance with the instruction of the beneficial owner unless the arrangement between the beneficial owner and his nominee provides otherwise.
Any notice, demand, request report, or proxy material required or permitted to be given or made to record holders of common units, Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units under the Partnership Agreement will be delivered to the record holder by us or by the transfer agent.
Our Partnership Agreement limits the duties our General Partner and our directors and officers may have to our unitholders and restricts the remedies available to unitholders for actions taken by our General Partner or our directors and officers.
Our Partnership Agreement provides that our Board of Directors has the authority to oversee and direct our operations, management and policies on an exclusive basis. The Partnership Act states that a member or manager's "duties and liabilities may be expanded or restricted by provisions in the Partnership Agreement." As permitted by the Partnership Act, our Partnership Agreement contains provisions that reduce the standards to which our General Partner and our directors and our officers may otherwise be held by Marshall Islands law. For example, our Partnership Agreement:

provides that our General Partner may make determinations or take or decline to take actions without regard to our or our unitholders' interests. Our General Partner may consider only the interests and factors that it desires, and it has no duty or obligation to give any consideration to any interest of, or factors affecting us, our affiliates or our unitholders. Decisions made by our General Partner will be made by its sole owner. Specifically, our General Partner may decide to exercise its right to make a determination to receive common units in exchange for resetting the target distribution levels related to the incentive distribution rights, call right, pre-emptive rights or registration rights, consent or withhold consent to any merger or consolidation of the Partnership, appoint certain of our directors or vote for the election of any director, vote or refrain from voting on amendments to our Partnership Agreement that require a vote of the outstanding units, voluntarily withdraw from the Partnership, transfer (to the extent permitted under our Partnership Agreement) or refrain from transferring its units, the general partner interest or incentive distribution rights or vote upon the dissolution of the Partnership;
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provides that our directors and officers are entitled to make other decisions in "good faith," meaning they reasonably believe that the decision is in our best interests;

generally provides that affiliated transactions and resolutions of conflicts of interest not approved by the conflicts committee of our Board of Directors, or our Conflicts Committee, and not involving a vote of unitholders must be on terms no less favorable to us than those generally being provided to or available from unrelated third-parties or be "fair and reasonable" to us and that, in determining whether a transaction or resolution is "fair and reasonable," our Board of Directors may consider the totality of the relationships between the parties involved, including other transactions that may be particularly advantageous or beneficial to us; and

provides that neither our General Partner nor our officers or our directors will be liable for monetary damages to us, our members or assignees for any acts or omissions unless there has been a final and non-appealable judgment entered by a court of competent jurisdiction determining that our General Partner, our directors or officers or those other persons engaged in actual fraud or willful misconduct.
In order to become a member of our Partnership, a common unitholder is required to agree to be bound by the provisions in the Partnership Agreement, including the provisions discussed above.
Fees and cost reimbursements, which our Manager will determine for services provided to us, will be substantial, will be payable regardless of our profitability and will reduce our cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Our Manager, which is wholly-owned by Mr. Georgios Prokopiou, is responsible for the commercial and technical management of the vessels in our Fleet pursuant to management agreements, or the Management Agreements. We currently pay our Manager a fee of $3,075 per day for each vessel for providing our vessel owning subsidiaries with technical, commercial, insurance, accounting, financing, provisions, crewing and bunkering services. In addition, we pay our Manager a commercial management fee equal to 1.25% of the gross charter hire and the ballast bonus, which is the amount paid to the shipowner as compensation for all or part of the cost of positioning the vessel to the port where the vessel will be delivered to the charterer. We incurred an aggregate expense of approximately $8.2 million in connection with the commercial and technical management of our Fleet for the year ended December 31, 2019.
The management fee increases by 3% annually unless otherwise agreed, between us, with approval of our Conflicts Committee, and our Manager. The management fees payable for the vessels may be further increased if our Manager has incurred material unforeseen costs of providing the management services, by an amount to be agreed between us and our Manager, which amount will be reviewed and approved by our Conflicts Committee.
We have further entered into an executive services agreement, or the Executive Services Agreement, on March 21, 2014, with retroactive effect to the date of the closing of our IPO, with our Manager, pursuant to which our Manager provides us with the services of our executive officers, who report directly to our Board of Directors. Under the Executive Services Agreement, our Manager is entitled to an executive services fee of €538,000 per annum, for the initial five year term, which expired in November 2018 but was automatically renewed for a successive five year term (unless terminated earlier), payable in equal monthly installments. After the expiration of the firm period, the Executive Services Agreement will automatically be renewed for successive five year terms unless terminated earlier. As of December 31, 2019, we incurred approximately $0.6 million in connection with this agreement.
Pursuant to an administrative services agreement, or the Administrative Services Agreement, that we entered into on December 30, 2014 and with effect from the date of the closing of our IPO, our Manager also provides us with certain administrative and support services (including certain financial, accounting, reporting, secretarial and information technology services) for which we currently pay a monthly fee of $10,000, plus all related costs and expenses, payable in quarterly installments. As of December 31, 2019, we incurred $0.1 million in connection with this agreement.
For a description of our Management Agreements, Executive Services Agreement and Administrative Services Agreement, see "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions." The fees and expenses payable pursuant to the Management Agreements, Executive Services Agreement and the Administrative Services Agreement will be payable without regard to our financial condition or results of operations. The payment of such fees could adversely affect our ability to pay cash distributions to our unitholders.
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Our Partnership Agreement contains provisions that may have the effect of discouraging a person or group from attempting to remove our current management or our General Partner and even if public unitholders are dissatisfied, they will be unable to remove our General Partner without our Sponsor's consent, unless our Sponsor's ownership interest in us is decreased; all of which could diminish the trading price of our common units.
Our Partnership Agreement contains provisions that may have the effect of discouraging a person or group from attempting to remove our current management or our General Partner.

The unitholders are unable to remove our General Partner without its consent because our General Partner and its affiliates, including our Sponsor, own sufficient units to be able to prevent its removal. The vote of the holders of at least 66 2/3% of all outstanding common units (including common units held by the General Partner and its Affiliates) voting together as a single class is required to remove our General Partner. Our Sponsor currently owns 15,595,000 of our common units, representing approximately 44% of the outstanding common units.

Our Partnership Agreement contains provisions that limit the removal of members of our Board of Directors. Appointed Directors may be removed (i) without Cause (as defined in the Partnership Agreement) only by the General Partner and (ii) with Cause only by the General Partner, the vote of the holders of a majority of the outstanding units at a properly called meeting of our Limited Partners, or by vote of the majority of the other members of our Board of Directors. Elected Directors may be removed with Cause only by vote of the majority of the other members of our Board of Directors or by a vote of the majority of the outstanding common units at a properly called meeting of our Limited Partners.

Common unitholders are entitled to elect only three of the five members of our Board of Directors. Our General Partner in its sole discretion appoints the remaining two directors.

Election of the three directors elected by unitholders is staggered, meaning that the members of only one of three classes of our elected directors are selected each year. In addition, the two directors appointed by our General Partner serve until a successor is duly appointed by the General Partner.

Our Partnership Agreement contains provisions limiting the ability of unitholders to call meetings of unitholders, to nominate directors and to acquire information about our operations as well as other provisions limiting the unitholders' ability to influence the manner or direction of management.

Unitholders' voting rights are further restricted by the Partnership Agreement providing that if at any time any person or group, other than our General Partner and its affiliates, or a direct or subsequently approved transferee of our General Partner or its affiliates or a transferee approved by the Board of Directors, acquires, in the aggregate, beneficial ownership of more than 4.9% of any class or series of our limited partner interests then outstanding, that person or group will lose voting rights on all of its limited partner interests of such class or series in excess of 4.9%, except for the Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units, and such limited partner interests will not be considered to be outstanding when sending notices of a meeting of limited partners, calculating required votes (except for nominating a person for election to our Board of Directors), determining the presence of a quorum, or for other similar purposes. The voting rights of any such limited partner interests in excess of 4.9% will effectively be redistributed pro rata among the other limited partner interests (as applicable) holding less than 4.9% of the voting power of such class or series. Our General Partner, its affiliates and persons who acquired limited partner interests with the prior approval of our Board of Directors will not be subject to this 4.9% limitation except with respect to voting their common units in the election of the elected directors.  Units held in nominee or street name account will be voted by the broker or other nominee in accordance with the instruction of the beneficial owner unless the arrangement between the beneficial owner and his nominee provides otherwise.

There are no restrictions in our Partnership Agreement on our ability to issue additional equity securities.
The effect of these provisions may be to diminish the price at which the common units will trade.
You may not have limited liability if a court finds that unitholder action constitutes control of our business.
As a limited partner in a partnership organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands, you could be held liable for our obligations to the same extent as a General Partner if you participate in the "control" of our business. Our General Partner generally has unlimited liability for the obligations of the Partnership, such as its debts and environmental liabilities, except for those contractual obligations of the Partnership that are expressly made without recourse to our General Partner, including as set forth in the Partnership Agreement. In addition, the limitations on the liability of holders of limited partner interests for the obligations of a limited partnership have not been clearly established in some jurisdictions in which we do business.
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We can borrow money to pay distributions, which would reduce the amount of credit available to be used in connection with the operation of our business.
Our Partnership Agreement allows us to make working capital borrowings to pay distributions. Accordingly, if we have available borrowing capacity and we are permitted to make distributions under our debt and other agreements, we can make distributions on all our units even though cash generated by our operations may not be sufficient to pay such distributions. Any working capital borrowings by us to make distributions will reduce the amount of working capital borrowings we can make for operating our business. For more information, see "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects."
We are dependent on our affiliated Manager for the management of our Fleet and for the provision of executive management and financial support services.
We subcontract the commercial and technical management of our Fleet, including crewing, maintenance and repair pursuant to the Management Agreements, with our affiliated Manager for the commercial and technical management of our Fleet. The loss of our Manager's services or its failure to perform its obligations to us could materially and adversely affect the results of our operations. In addition, our Manager provides us with significant management, administrative, executive, financial and other support services.
In addition, our ability to enter into new charters and expand our customer relationships depends largely on our ability to leverage our relationship with our Manager and its reputation and relationships in the shipping industry. If our Manager suffers material damage to its reputation or relationships, it may harm our ability to:

renew existing charters upon their expiration;

obtain new charters;

successfully interact with shipyards;

obtain financing on commercially acceptable terms;

maintain access to capital under the Sponsor credit facility; or

maintain satisfactory relationships with suppliers and other third-parties.
Our business will be harmed if our Manager fails to perform these services satisfactorily, if they cancel their agreements with us or if they stop providing these services to us. Our operational success and ability to execute our growth strategy will depend significantly upon the satisfactory performance of these services by our Manager and the reputation of our Manager.
Our current time charters and certain of our debt agreements prevent us from changing our Manager.
Our ability to change the Manager of the vessels in our Fleet to another affiliated or third-party manager, is prohibited, without prior written consent, by provisions in our current time charters, the terms of our $675 Million Credit Facility and the Manager's Undertaking delivered by the Manager in connection with the $675 Million Credit Facility.  In addition, we cannot assure you that future debt agreements or time charter contracts with our existing or new lenders or charterers, respectively, will not contain similar provisions.
Since our Manager is a privately held company and there is little or no publicly available information about it, an investor could have little advance warning of potential financial and other problems that might affect our Manager that could have a material adverse effect on us.
The ability of our Manager to continue providing services for our benefit will depend in part on its own financial strength. Circumstances beyond our control could impair our Manager's financial strength, and because it is privately held, it is unlikely that information about its financial strength would become public unless our Manager began to default on its obligations. As a result, an investor in our units might have little advance warning of problems affecting our Manager, even though these problems could have a material adverse effect on us.
Our Manager may be unable to attract, provide and retain key management personnel, which may negatively impact the effectiveness of our management and our results of operation.
Our success depends to a significant extent upon the abilities and the efforts of our executive officers, whose services are provided to us by our Manager pursuant to an Executive Services Agreement. While we believe that we have an experienced management team, the loss or unavailability of one or more of our senior executives for any extended period of time could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
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A shortage of qualified officers and crew could have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
LNG carriers require a technically skilled officer staff with specialized training. As the world LNG carrier fleet continues to grow, the demand for technically skilled officers and crew has been increasing. If we or our third-party vessel Manager is unable to employ technically skilled staff and crew, we will not be able to adequately staff our vessels. A material decrease in the supply of technically skilled officers or an inability of our Manager to attract and retain such qualified officers could impair our ability to operate, or increase the cost of crewing our vessels, which would materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and significantly reduce our ability to pay quarterly distributions to our common and preferred unitholders.
We are a holding company, and our ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders will be limited by the value of investments we currently hold and by the distribution of funds from our subsidiaries.
We are a holding company whose assets mainly consist of equity interests in our subsidiaries. As a result, our ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders will depend on the performance of our operating subsidiaries. If we are not able to receive sufficient funds from our subsidiaries, we will not be able to pay distributions unless we obtain funds from other sources. We may not be able to obtain the necessary funds from other sources on terms acceptable to us.
Due to our lack of diversification, adverse developments in our LNG shipping business could reduce our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
We rely exclusively on the cash flow generated from our LNG carriers. Due to our lack of diversification, an adverse development in the LNG shipping industry could have a significantly greater impact on our financial condition and results of operations than if we maintained more diverse assets or lines of businesses.
We may experience operational problems with vessels that reduce revenue and increase costs.
LNG carriers are complex and their operation is technically challenging. Marine transportation operations are subject to mechanical risks and problems, including, among others, business interruptions caused by mechanical failure, human error, war, terrorism, disease (such as the recent outbreak of COVID-19) and quarantine, or political action in various countries. Operational problems may lead to loss of revenue or higher than anticipated operating expenses or require additional capital expenditures. Any of these results could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders.
Actions taken by our Board of Directors may have a material adverse effect on the amount of cash available for distribution to unitholders.
The amount of cash that is available for distribution to unitholders is affected by decisions of our Board of Directors regarding such matters as:

the amount and timing of asset purchases and sales;

cash expenditures;

borrowings;

estimates of maintenance and replacement capital expenditures;

the issuance of additional units; and

the creation, reduction or increase of reserves in any quarter.

In addition, borrowings by us and our affiliates do not constitute a breach of any duty owed by our General Partner or our directors to our unitholders, including borrowings that have the purpose or effect of enabling our General Partner or its affiliates to receive distributions or incentive distribution rights.
Our Partnership Agreement provides that we and our subsidiaries may borrow funds from our General Partner and its affiliates. However, our General Partner and its affiliates may not borrow funds from us or our subsidiaries.  We are currently unable to pay distributions to our common unit holders due to restrictions in our $675 Million Credit Facility.
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Risks Relating to Our Industry
Our future growth and performance depends on continued growth in LNG production and demand for LNG and LNG shipping.
A complete LNG project includes production, liquefaction, storage, regasification and distribution facilities, in addition to the marine transportation of LNG. Increased infrastructure investment has led to an expansion of LNG production capacity in recent years, but material delays in the construction of new liquefaction facilities could constrain the amount of LNG available for shipping, reducing vessel utilization. While global LNG demand has continued to rise, it has risen at a slower pace than previously predicted and the rate of its growth has fluctuated due to several factors, including the current global economic crisis and continued economic uncertainty, fluctuations in the price of natural gas and other sources of energy, the continued acceleration in natural gas production from unconventional sources in regions such as North America and the highly complex and capital intensive nature of new or expanded LNG projects, including liquefaction projects. Continued growth in LNG production and demand for LNG and LNG shipping could be negatively affected by a number of factors, including, without limitation:

increases in interest rates or other events that may affect the availability of sufficient financing for LNG projects on commercially reasonable terms;

increases in the cost of natural gas derived from LNG relative to the cost of natural gas generally;

increases in the production levels of low-cost natural gas in domestic natural gas consuming markets, which could further depress prices for natural gas in those markets and make LNG uneconomical;

increases in the production of natural gas in areas linked by pipelines to consuming areas, the extension of existing, or the development of new pipeline systems in markets we may serve, or the conversion of existing non-natural gas pipelines to natural gas pipelines in those markets;

decreases in the consumption of natural gas due to increases in its price, decreases in the price of alternative energy sources or other factors making consumption of natural gas less attractive;

any significant explosion, spill or other incident involving an LNG facility or carrier;

infrastructure constraints, including but not limited to, delays in the construction of liquefaction facilities, the inability of project owners or operators to obtain governmental approvals to construct or operate LNG facilities, as well as community or political action group resistance to new LNG infrastructure due to concerns about the environment, safety and terrorism;

labor or political unrest or military conflicts affecting existing or proposed areas of LNG production or regasification;

concerns regarding the spread of disease, for example, the COVID-19 virus, safety and terrorism;

decreases in the price of LNG, which might decrease the expected returns relating to investments in LNG projects;

new taxes or regulations affecting LNG production or liquefaction that make LNG production less attractive; or

negative global or regional economic or political conditions, including the recent worldwide economic downturn caused by the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, particularly in LNG consuming regions, which could reduce energy consumption or its growth.
Reduced demand for LNG and LNG shipping or any reduction or limitation in LNG production capacity, could have a material adverse effect on our ability to secure future multi-year time charters upon expiration or early termination of our current charter arrangements, or for any new ships we acquire, which could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Fluctuations in overall LNG demand growth could adversely affect our ability to secure future time charters.
According to Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd., or Drewry, LNG trade has started to increase during 2016 and 2019. While India and China were main drivers of LNG trade during 2016-18, Europe played a dominant role in 2019. China's LNG import growth rate declined 14.8% year over year to 61.9 million tons in 2019. Previously, China's LNG import grew 46.1% year over year in 2017 and 41.1% in 2018.  In 2019, France's LNG imports more than doubled to 16 million tons, compared to 2018. Spain's LNG imports grew 61.0% year over year in 2019 to 16.1 million tons. In 2019, LNG trade grew by 11.5% year over year to 349 million tons. However, demand from the key Asian importers, Japan and South Korea declined in 2019 as a change in priorities has marked a shift back to nuclear energy and increased focus on renewables. In the first quarter of 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak had an adverse impact on LNG trade and LNG spot prices. Fluctuating demand along with economic uncertainty could hurt our ability to secure future-term charters.
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A continuation of the recent low prices in natural gas and volatile oil prices may adversely affect our growth prospects and results of operations.
Natural gas prices are volatile and have recently reached their lowest levels since 2009 in certain geographic areas. Natural gas prices are affected by numerous factors beyond our control, including but not limited to the following:

price and availability of crude oil and petroleum products;

worldwide and regional supply of, demand for and price of natural gas;

the costs of exploration, development, production, transportation and distribution of natural gas;

expectations regarding future energy prices for both natural gas and other sources of energy, including renewable energy sources;

the level of worldwide LNG production and exports;

government laws and regulations, including but not limited to environmental protection laws and regulations;

local and international political, economic and weather conditions, such as the recent worldwide economic downturn caused by the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus;

political and military conflicts; and

the availability and cost of alternative energy sources, including alternate sources of natural gas in gas importing and consuming countries as well as alternate sources of primary energy such as renewables.
Given the significant global natural gas and crude oil price volatility referenced above, a continuation of current low natural gas prices or oil prices may adversely affect our future business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to make distributions to preferred unitholders, as a result of, among other things:

a reduction in exploration for or development of new natural gas reserves or projects, or the delay or cancellation of existing projects as energy companies lower their capital expenditures budgets, which may reduce our growth opportunities;

low oil prices negatively affecting the market price of natural gas, to the extent that natural gas prices are benchmarked to the price of crude oil, in turn negatively affecting the economics of potential new LNG production projects, which may reduce our growth opportunities;

high oil prices negatively affecting the competitiveness of natural gas to the extent that natural gas prices are benchmarked to the price of crude oil;

low gas prices globally and/or weak differentials between prices in the Atlantic Basin and the Pacific Basin leading to reduced inter-basin trading of LNG and reduced demand for LNG shipping;

lower demand for vessels of the types we own and operate, which may reduce available charter rates and revenue to us upon redeployment of our vessels following expiration or termination of existing contracts or upon the initial chartering of vessels;

customers potentially seeking to renegotiate or terminate existing vessel contracts, or failing to extend or renew contracts upon expiration;

the inability or refusal of customers to make charter payments to us due to financial constraints or otherwise; or

declines in vessel values, which may result in losses to us upon vessel sales or impairment charges against our earnings and could impact our compliance with the covenants in our loan agreements.
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We may have more difficulty entering into multi-year time charters in the future if an active spot LNG shipping market continues to develop.
One of our principal strategies is to enter into additional LNG carrier long-term time charters. Most shipping requirements for new LNG projects continue to be provided on a multi-year basis, although the level of spot voyages and time charters of less than 24 months in duration has grown in the past few years. If an active spot market continues to develop, we may have increased difficulty entering into multi-year time charters upon expiration or early termination of our current charters or for any vessels that we acquire in the future and, as a result, our cash flow may be less stable. In addition, an active spot LNG market may require us to enter into charters based on changing market prices, as opposed to contracts based on a fixed rate, which could result in a decrease in our cash flow in periods when the market price for shipping LNG is depressed which may lead to insufficient funds to cover our financing and other costs for our vessels.
Demand for LNG shipping could be significantly affected by volatile natural gas prices and the overall demand for natural gas.
Gas prices are volatile and are affected by numerous factors beyond our control, including but not limited to, the following:

worldwide supply and demand for natural gas;

the cost of exploration, development, production, transportation and distribution of natural gas;

expectations regarding future energy prices for both natural gas and other sources of energy;

the level of worldwide LNG production and exports;

government laws and regulations, including but not limited to environmental protection laws and regulations;

local and international political, economic and weather conditions, such as the recent worldwide economic downturn caused by the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus;

political and military conflicts; and

the availability and cost of alternative energy sources, including alternate sources of natural gas in gas importing and consuming countries.
Seasonality in demand, peak-load demand and other short-term factors such as pipeline gas disruptions and maintenance schedules of utilities affect charters of less than two years and rates. In general, reduced demand for LNG, LNG carriers or LNG shipping would have a material adverse effect on our future growth and could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Hire rates for LNG carriers may fluctuate substantially. If rates are lower when we are seeking a new charter, our revenues and cash flows may decline.
Our ability, from time to time, to charter or re-charter any vessel at favorable rates will depend on, among other things, the prevailing economic conditions in the LNG industry. Hire rates for LNG carriers may fluctuate over time as a result of changes in the supply-demand balance relating to current and future vessel capacity. This supply-demand relationship largely depends on a number of factors outside our control. The LNG charter market is connected to world natural gas prices and energy markets, which we cannot predict. A substantial or extended decline in demand for natural gas or LNG, including due to effects caused by the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus, could adversely affect our ability to charter or re-charter our vessels at acceptable rates or to acquire and profitably operate new vessels. Hire rates for newbuildings are correlated with the price of newbuildings. Hire rates, at a time when we may be seeking new charters, may be lower than the hire rates at which our vessels are currently chartered. If hire rates are lower when we are seeking a new charter, our revenues and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our unitholders, may substantially decline, as we may only be able to enter into new charters at reduced or unprofitable rates or we may have to secure a charter in the spot market, where hire rates are more volatile. Prolonged periods of low charter hire rates or low vessel utilization could also have a material adverse effect on the value of our assets.
Vessel values may fluctuate substantially and, if these values are lower at a time when we are attempting to dispose of vessels, we may incur a loss.
Factors that influence vessel values include:

prevailing economic conditions in the natural gas and energy markets;
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a substantial or extended decline in demand for LNG;

increases in the supply of vessel capacity;

the size and age of a vessel; and

the cost of retrofitting or modifying secondhand vessels, if possible, as a result of technological advances in vessel design or equipment, changes in applicable environmental or other regulations or standards, customer requirements or otherwise.
As our vessels age, the expenses associated with maintaining and operating them are expected to increase, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations if we do not maintain sufficient cash reserves for maintenance and replacement capital expenditures. Moreover, the cost of a replacement vessel are likely significant. If a charter terminates, we may be unable to re-deploy the affected vessels at favorable rates and, rather than continue to incur costs to maintain and finance them, we may seek to dispose of them. A sustained decline in charter rates and employment opportunities could adversely affect the market value of our vessels, on which certain of the ratios and financial covenants with which we are required to comply are based.  A significant decline in the market value of our vessels could impact our compliance with the covenants in our loan agreements. Our inability to dispose of vessels at a reasonable value could result in a loss on their sale and adversely affect our ability to purchase a replacement vessel.  Our inability to dispose of vessels at a reasonable value could also adversely affect our results of operations, financial condition and our ability to pay distributions at all to our unitholders.
An oversupply of ships or delays or abandonment of planned projects may lead to a reduction in the charter hire rates we are able to obtain when seeking charters in the future.
According to Drewry, during the period from 2011 to March 2020, the global fleet of LNG carriers grew from 360 to 568 vessels due to the construction and delivery of new LNG carriers and low levels of vessel demolitions. Only 31 LNG carriers, representing 5.5% of the LNG vessels currently in service, have an Ice Class 1A and Ice-class 1A super designation or equivalent rating, according to Drewry.
Although the global newbuilding orderbook dropped sharply in 2008, 2009 and 2010, ordering activity increased in 2011 and 2012 in light of Fukushima nuclear disaster. According to Drewry, a total of 56 LNG carrier newbuilding orders were placed in 2011 and 34 in 2012. In 2013 and 2014 ordering activity remained firm and a total of 100 newbuild orders were placed. New orders declined in 2015 to 32, followed by only 7 new orders placed in 2016. In 2017, 14 new LNG orders were placed, however; in 2018 low newbuilding prices and high charter rates attracted investment in the LNG market and 76 LNG carriers (which includes LNG bunkering and small scale LNG carriers) were ordered during the year. Strong new order momentum continued in 2019 with 61 LNG carriers ordered in 2019. As of March 31, 2020, the newbuilding orderbook consisted of 145 vessels with a combined capacity of 21.3 million cbm, equivalent to 23.3% of the current global LNG carrier fleet capacity, according to Drewry. The delivery of these newbuildings will be spread out between 2020 and 2023.
According to Drewry, as of March 31, 2020, there were 52 LNG carriers in the size range of 149,000-155,000 cbm in the LNG trading fleet, of which 45 have membrane cargo containment system. There are no LNG carriers in the same size segment on orderbook, which have moss spherical containment system.
Increasing scrutiny and changing expectations from investors, lenders and other market participants with respect to our Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG") policies may impose additional costs on us or expose us to additional risks.
Companies across all industries are facing increasing scrutiny relating to their ESG policies. Investor advocacy groups, certain institutional investors, investment funds, lenders and other market participants are increasingly focused on ESG practices and in recent years have placed increasing importance on the implications and social cost of their investments. The increased focus and activism related to ESG and similar matters may hinder access to capital, as investors and lenders may decide to reallocate capital or to not commit capital as a result of their assessment of a company's ESG practices. Companies which do not adapt to or comply with investor, lender or other industry shareholder expectations and standards, which are evolving, or which are perceived to have not responded appropriately to the growing concern for ESG issues, regardless of whether there is a legal requirement to do so, may suffer from reputational damage and the business, financial condition, and/or stock price of such a company could be materially and adversely affected.
We may face increasing pressures from investors, lenders and other market participants, who are increasingly focused on climate change, to prioritize sustainable energy practices, reduce our carbon footprint and promote sustainability. As a result, we may be required to implement more stringent ESG procedures or standards so that our existing and future investors and lenders remain invested in us and make further investments in us, especially given the highly focused and specific trade of crude oil transportation in which we are engaged. If we do not meet these standards, our business and/or our ability to access capital could be harmed.
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Additionally, certain investors and lenders may exclude LNG transport companies, such as us, from their investing portfolios altogether due to environmental, social and governance factors.  These limitations in both the debt and equity capital markets may affect our ability to grow as our plans for growth may include accessing the equity and debt capital markets.  If those markets are unavailable, or if we are unable to access alternative means of financing on acceptable terms, or at all, we may be unable to implement our business strategy, which would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations and impair our ability to service our indebtedness. Further, it is likely that we will incur additional costs and require additional resources to monitor, report and comply with wide ranging ESG requirements.  The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Further technological advancements and other innovations affecting LNG carriers could reduce the charter hire rates we are able to obtain when seeking new employment and this could adversely impact the value of our assets and our future financial performance.
The charter rates, asset value and operational life of an LNG carrier are determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to, the vessel's efficiency, operational flexibility and physical life. Efficiency includes speed and fuel economy. Flexibility includes the ability to enter harbors, utilize related docking facilities and pass through canals and straits. Physical life is related to the original design and construction, the ongoing maintenance and the impact of operational stresses on the asset. If more advanced ship designs are developed in the future and new ships are built that are more efficient, more flexible or have longer physical lives than our Fleet, competition from these more technologically advanced LNG carriers could adversely affect the charter hire rates we will be able to secure when we seek to re-charter our vessels upon expiration or early termination of our current charter arrangements. Such an adverse impact could also reduce the resale value of our vessels and adversely affect our revenues and cash flows, including any cash available for distributions to our unitholders.
If we cannot meet our charterers' quality and compliance requirements, we may not be able to operate our vessels profitably which could have an adverse effect on our future financial performance.
Customers, and in particular those in the LNG industry, have a high and increasing focus on quality and compliance standards with their suppliers across the entire value chain, including the shipping and transportation segment. Our continuous compliance with these standards and quality requirements is vital for our operations. Related risks could materialize in multiple ways, including a sudden and unexpected breach in quality and/or compliance concerning one or more vessels, and/or a continuous decrease in the quality concerning one or more LNG carriers occurring over time. Moreover, continuous, modified and increasing requirements and standards from LNG industry constituents may further complicate our ability to meet such requirements and standards. Any noncompliance by the Partnership, either suddenly or over a period of time, on one or more LNG carriers, or an increase or modification in requirements by our charterers above and beyond what we deliver, may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Exposure to currency exchange rate fluctuations will result in fluctuations in our cash flows and operating results.
Historically, our revenue has been generated in U.S. Dollars, but we incur capital, operating and administrative expenses in multiple currencies, including, among others, the Euro. If the U.S. Dollar weakens significantly, we would be required to convert more U.S. Dollars to other currencies to satisfy our obligations, which may cause us to have less or no cash available for distribution to our unitholders. Because we report our operating results in U.S. Dollars, changes in the value of the U.S. Dollar may also result in fluctuations in our reported revenues and earnings. In addition, under U.S. GAAP, all foreign currency-denominated monetary assets and liabilities, such as cash and accounts payable, are revalued and reported based on the prevailing exchange rate at the end of the reporting period. This revaluation may cause us to report significant non-monetary foreign currency exchange gains and losses in certain periods.
An increase in operating expenses, dry-docking costs, bunker costs and/or other capital expenses could materially and adversely affect our financial performance.
Our operating expenses and dry-dock capital expenditures depend on a variety of factors including crew costs, provisions, deck and engine stores and spares, lubricating oil, insurance, maintenance and repairs and shipyard costs, many of which are beyond our control and may affect the entire shipping industry. Also, while we do not bear the cost of fuel (bunkers) under our time charters, fuel is a significant expense in our operations when our vessels are, for example, moving to or from dry-dock or when off-hire. The price and supply of fuel are unpredictable and fluctuate based on events and factors outside our control, including geopolitical developments, supply and demand for oil and gas, actions by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil-producing countries and regions, political instability, regional production patterns and environmental concerns. These events and factors may increase vessel operating and dry-docking costs further, which could materially and adversely affect our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
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In addition, capital expenditures and other costs necessary for maintaining a vessel in good operating condition generally increase as the vessel ages. Accordingly, it is likely that the operating costs of our vessels and capital expenditures required will increase in the future, which will have a direct impact on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
The operation of LNG carriers is inherently risky and an incident involving significant loss of or environmental consequences involving any of our vessels could harm our reputation and business.
Our vessels and their respective cargoes are at risk of being damaged or lost because of events and factors that include but are not limited to:

marine disasters;

piracy;

environmental accidents and hazards;

weather;

mechanical failures;

grounding, fire, explosions and collisions;

human error; and

war, political unrest and terrorism.
An accident involving any of our vessels could result in any of the following:

death or injury to persons, loss of property or environmental damage;

delays or failure in the delivery of cargo;

loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts;

governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business;

spills, pollution and the liability associated with the same;

higher insurance rates; and

damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally.
Any of these events could result in a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders. If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired. The costs of vessel repairs are unpredictable and can be substantial. We may have to pay repair costs that our insurance policies do not cover. The loss of earnings while these vessels are being repaired, as well as the actual cost of these repairs, would decrease or materially and adversely impact our results of operations. If any of our vessels is involved in an accident with the potential risk of environmental consequences, the resulting media coverage may also have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and cash flows, which in turn could weaken our financial condition and materially and adversely affect our ability to pay distributions to our unitholders.
Our insurance may be insufficient to cover losses that may occur to our property or result from our operations.
The operation of LNG carriers is inherently risky. Although we carry protection and indemnity insurance consistent with industry standards, all of our potential risks may not be adequately insured against, and any particular claim may not be paid or covered. Any claims covered by insurance would be subject to deductibles, and since it is possible that a large number of claims may be brought, the aggregate amount of these deductibles could be material. Certain of our insurance coverage is maintained through mutual protection and indemnity associations, and as a member of such associations, we may be required to make additional payments over and above budgeted premiums if member claims exceed association reserves. We may be unable to procure adequate insurance coverage at commercially reasonable rates in the future. For example, more stringent and increasing environmental regulations have led to increased insurance costs, and in the future, may result in the lack of availability of, insurance against risks of marine disasters, environmental damage or pollution. A marine disaster could exceed our insurance coverage, which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results. Any uninsured or underinsured loss could harm our business and financial condition. In addition, our insurance may be voidable by the insurers as a result of certain of our actions, such as our vessels failure to maintain their respective certifications with applicable maritime self-regulatory organizations.
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Changes in the insurance markets attributable to terrorist attacks may also make certain types of insurance more difficult for us to obtain. In addition, upon renewal or expiration of our current policies, the insurance that may be available to us may be significantly more expensive or limited than our existing coverage.
Our vessels may suffer damage and we may face unexpected costs and off-hire days.
In the event of damage to our owned vessels, the damaged vessel would be off-hire while it is being repaired, which would decrease our revenues and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our unitholders. In addition, the costs of vessel repairs are unpredictable and can be substantial. In the event of repair costs that are not covered, whether in whole or in part, by our insurance policies, we may have to pay such repair costs, which would decrease our earnings and cash flows.
Volatile economic conditions may adversely impact our ability to obtain financing or refinance our future credit facilities on acceptable terms, which may hinder or prevent us from operating or expanding our business.
Global financial markets and economic conditions have been, and continue to be, unstable and volatile. Beginning in February 2020, due in part to fears associated with the spread of COVID-19 (as more fully described below), global financial markets and starting in late February, financial markets in the U.S. experienced even greater relative volatility and a steep and abrupt downturn, which volatility and downturn may continue as COVID-19 continues to spread. Such instability and volatility have negatively affected the general willingness of banks, other financial institutions and lenders to extend credit, particularly in the shipping industry, due to the historically volatile asset values of vessels. Credit markets and the debt and equity capital markets have been distressed and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the global credit markets has resulted in reduced access to credit worldwide.  These issues, along with significant write-offs in the financial services sector, the re-pricing of credit risk and the current weak economic conditions, have made, and will likely continue to make, it difficult to obtain additional financing.  The current state of global financial markets and current economic conditions might adversely impact our ability to issue additional equity at prices that will not be dilutive to our existing unitholders or preclude us from issuing equity at all.  Economic conditions and the economic slow-down resulting from COVID-19 and the international governmental responses to the virus may also adversely affect the market price of our common units.
Also, as a result of concerns about the stability of financial markets generally and the solvency of counterparties specifically, the cost of obtaining money from the credit markets has increased as a result of increases in interest rates, stricter lending standards, refusals to extend debt financing at all or on similar terms as existing debt arrangements, reductions, and in some cases, termination of funding to borrowers on the part of many lenders. Due to these factors, we cannot be certain that financing or any alternatives will be available to the extent required, or that we will be able to finance or refinance our future credit facilities, on acceptable terms or at all. If financing or refinancing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our obligations as they come due or we may be unable to enhance our existing business, complete the acquisition of newbuildings (if any) and additional vessels or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities as they arise. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has negatively impacted, and may continue to negatively impact, global economic activity, demand for energy, including LNG and LNG shipping, and funds flows and sentiment in the global financial markets. Continued economic disruption caused by the continued failure to control the spread of the virus could significantly impact our ability to obtain additional debt financing.
As of the date of this Annual Report, we have not secured any financing in connection with the potential acquisition of the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor since it is uncertain if and when such purchase options will be exercised, if at all. Our Sponsor, together with its joint venture partners, have secured financing for the Optional Vessels.  In the event we acquire any or all of such Optional Vessels in the future, we may enter into agreements with our Sponsor and its joint venture partners to novate these loan agreements to us, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. Any such novation would be subject to each respective lender's consent. We may also seek to enter into new financing arrangements or alternatives.
A cyber-attack could materially disrupt our business.
We rely on information technology systems and networks in our operations and the administration of our business. We may be targeted by individuals, organizations or groups seeking to sabotage, damage, steal or disrupt our information technology systems and networks, or to sabotage, damage, steal, disrupt or manipulate data. A successful cyber-attack could materially and adversely disrupt our business and operations, including the safety of our operations and systems, and the availability of our vessels and facilities or lead to unauthorized release of information or data or alteration of information or data in our systems. Any such cyber-attack or other security breach of our information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our unitholders. We are subject to laws, directives, and regulations relating to the collection, use, retention, disclosure, security and transfer of personal data. These laws, directives, and regulations, and their interpretation and enforcement continue to evolve and may be inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Compliance with emerging and changing privacy and data protection requirements may cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices. Noncompliance with our legal obligations relating to privacy, security and data protection could result in penalties, fines, legal proceedings by governmental entities or others, loss of reputation, legal claims by individuals and customers and significant legal and financial exposure and could affect our ability to retain and attract customers. Changes or increases in the nature of cyber or security-threats and/or changes to industry standards and regulations might require us to adopt additional or modified procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which may require us to incur additional expenses and/or additional capital expenditures. However, the impact of such regulations is difficult to predict at this time.
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Compliance with safety and other requirements imposed by classification societies may be very costly and may adversely affect our business.
The hull and machinery of every commercial LNG carrier must be classed by a classification society. The classification society certifies that the vessel has been built and maintained in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of that classification society. Moreover, every vessel must comply with all applicable international conventions and the regulations of the vessel's flag state as verified by a classification society. Finally, each vessel must successfully undergo periodic surveys, including annual, intermediate and five-year special surveys performed under the classification society's rules.
If any vessel does not maintain its class, it will lose its insurance coverage and be unable to trade, and the vessel's owner will be in breach of relevant covenants under its financing arrangements. Failure to maintain the class of one or more of our vessels could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our unitholders.
The LNG shipping industry is subject to substantial environmental and other regulations, which may significantly limit our operations or increase our expenses.
Our operations are materially affected by extensive and changing international, national, state and local environmental laws, regulations, treaties, conventions and standards, which are in force in international waters, in the jurisdictional waters of the countries in which our vessels operate and in the countries in which our vessels are registered. These requirements relate to compliance with applicable legislation and minimizing our environmental footprint (of our operations both onboard and ashore). We expect to incur substantial expenses in complying with these requirements, including, but not limited to, costs relating to air emissions, including greenhouse gases, sulfur emissions, the management of ballast waters, maintenance and inspection, development and implementation of emergency procedures and insurance coverage. We could also incur substantial costs, including clean-up costs, civil and criminal penalties and sanctions, the suspension or termination of operations and third-party claims as a result of violations of, or liabilities under, such laws and regulations.
In addition, these requirements can affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels, require a reduction in cargo capacity, necessitate vessel modifications or operational changes or restrictions or lead to decreased availability of insurance coverage for environmental matters. These affects could further result in the denial of access to certain jurisdictional waters or ports or detention in certain ports. We are required to obtain governmental approvals and permits to operate our vessels and to also to maintain environmental manuals and plans. Any delays in obtaining such governmental approvals may increase our expenses, and the terms and conditions of such approvals could materially and adversely affect our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Additional laws and regulations may be adopted in the future that could limit our ability to do business or increase our operating costs, which could materially and adversely affect our business. For example, new or amended legislation relating to ship recycling, sewage systems, emission control (including emissions of greenhouse gases) as well as ballast water treatment and ballast water handling may be adopted. The United States has enacted legislation and regulations that require more stringent controls of air and water emissions from ocean-going ships. Such legislation or regulations may require additional capital expenditures or operating expenses (such as increased costs for low-sulfur fuel or costs related to the installation of scrubbers for cleaning exhaust gas) in order for us to maintain our vessels' compliance with international and/or national regulations. We also may become subject to additional laws and regulations or any new legislation that may come into effect if and when we enter new markets or trades.
We also believe that the heightened environmental, quality and security concerns of insurance underwriters, regulators and charterers will generally lead to additional regulatory requirements, including enhanced risk assessment and security requirements as well as greater inspection and safety requirements on all LNG carriers in the marine transportation market. These requirements are likely to add increased costs to our operations, and the failure to comply with these requirements may affect the ability of our vessels to obtain and, possibly, collect on, insurance or to obtain the required certificates for entry into the different ports where our vessels operate.
Some environmental laws and regulations, such as the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990, or OPA, provide for potentially unlimited joint, several, and/or strict liability for owners, operators and demise or bareboat charterers for oil pollution and related damages. OPA applies to discharges of any oil from a ship in U.S. waters, including discharges of fuel and lubricants from an LNG carrier, even if the ships do not carry oil as cargo. Vessels are required to carry onboard a ship-specific non-tank vessel response plan to address contingencies relating to discharges of any oil. In addition, many states in the United States bordering on a navigable waterway have enacted legislation providing for potentially unlimited strict liability without regard to fault for the discharge of pollutants within their waters. We also are subject to other laws and conventions outside the United States that provide for an owner or operator of LNG carriers to bear strict liability for pollution, such as the Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims of 1976, or the "London Convention."
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Some of these laws and conventions, including OPA and the London Convention, may include limitations on liability. However, the limitations may not be applicable in certain circumstances, such as where a spill is caused by a vessel owner's or operators' intentional or reckless conduct. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has resulted in additional regulatory initiatives, including the raising of liability caps under OPA. On February 24, 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, proposed a rule increasing the limits of liability for off-shore facilities under OPA based on inflation, effective in January 2015. In April 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, or BSEE, announced a new Well Control Rule. However, pursuant to orders by the U.S. President in early 2017, BSEE announced in August 2017 that this rule would be revised. The BSEE amended the Well Control Rule, effective July 15, 2019, which rolled back certain reforms regarding the safety of drilling operations, and the U.S. President has proposed leasing new sections of U.S. waters to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling.
Compliance with OPA and other environmental laws and regulations also may result in vessel owners and operators incurring increased costs for additional maintenance and inspection requirements, the development of contingency arrangements for potential spills, obtaining mandated insurance coverage and meeting financial responsibility requirements.
Please see "Item 4. Information on the Partnership—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations."
Developments in safety and environmental requirements relating to the recycling of vessels may result in escalated and unexpected costs.
The 2009 Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, or the Hong Kong Convention, aims to ensure ships, being recycled once they reach the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to the environment, human health and safety. The Hong Kong Convention has yet to be ratified by the required number of countries to enter into force. Upon the Hong Kong Convention's entry into force, each ship sent for recycling will have to carry an inventory of its hazardous materials. The hazardous materials, whose use or installation are prohibited in certain circumstances, are listed in an appendix to the Hong Kong Convention. Ships will be required to have surveys to verify their inventory of hazardous materials initially, throughout their lives and prior to the ship being recycled.
The Hong Kong Convention, which is currently open for accession by IMO Member States, will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 IMO Member States, representing at least 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have ratified or approve accession. As of the date of this annual report, fifteen countries representing just over 30% of world merchant shipping tonnage have ratified or approved accession of the Hong Kong Convention.
On November 20, 2013, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted the Ship Recycling Regulation, which retains the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention and requires that certain commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of an EU Member State may be recycled only in facilities included on the European list of permitted ship recycling facilities. We are required to comply with EU Ship Recycling Regulation by December 31, 2020, since our ships trade in EU region. One of our vessels, the Artic Aurora, is a Maltese flagged vessel. Malta is a EU Member State.
These regulatory developments, when implemented, may lead to cost escalation by shipyards, repair yards and recycling yards. This may then result in a decrease in the residual scrap value of a vessel, and a vessel could potentially not cover the cost to comply with latest requirements, which may have an adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position.
Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations and markets, and may cause us to incur substantial costs and to procure low-sulfur fuel oil directly on the wholesale market for storage at sea and onward consumption on our vessels.
Due to concern over the risk of climate change, a number of countries and the International Maritime Organization, or the IMO, have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, regulatory frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These regulatory measures may include, among others, adoption of cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards and incentives or mandates for renewable energy. More specifically, on October 27, 2016, the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee announced its decision concerning the implementation of regulations mandating a reduction in sulfur emissions from 3.5% currently to 0.5% as of the beginning of January 1, 2020. Since January 1, 2020, ships must either remove sulfur from emissions or buy fuel with low sulfur content, which may lead to increased costs and supplementary investments for ship owners. The interpretation of "fuel oil used on board" includes use in main engine, auxiliary engines and boilers. Shipowners may comply with this regulation by (i) using 0.5% sulfur fuels on board, which are available around the world but at a higher cost; (ii) installing scrubbers for cleaning of the exhaust gas; or (iii) by retrofitting vessels to be powered by liquefied natural gas, which may not be a viable option due to the lack of supply network and high costs involved in this process. Costs of compliance with these regulatory changes may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position. Additional or new conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could require, among others, the installation of expensive emission control systems and could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
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We continue to evaluate different options in complying with IMO and other rules and regulations. We expect that our fuel costs and fuel inventories will increase in 2020 as a result of these sulfur emission regulations. Low sulfur fuel is more expensive than standard marine fuel containing 3.5% sulfur content and may become more expensive or difficult to obtain as a result of increased demand. If the cost differential between low sulfur fuel and high sulfur fuel is significantly higher than anticipated, or if low sulfur fuel is not available at ports on certain trading routes, it may not be feasible or competitive to operate our vessels on certain trading routes without installing scrubbers or without incurring deviation time to obtain compliant fuel. Scrubbers may not be available to be installed on such vessels at a favorable cost or at all if we seek them at a later date. Further there is a risk that if the fuel spread between high sulfur fuel oil ("HSFO") and very low sulfur fuel oil ("VLSFO") continues to shrink, and therefore the alternative cost related to scrubber investments may increase.
Fuel is a significant, if not the largest, expense in our shipping operations when vessels are under voyage charter and is an important factor in negotiating charter rates. Our operations and the performance of our vessels, and as a result our results of operations, cash flows and financial position, may be negatively affected to the extent that compliant sulfur fuel oils are unavailable, of low or inconsistent quality, if de-bunkering facilities are unavailable to permit our vessels to accept compliant fuels when required, or upon occurrence of any of the other foregoing events. Costs of compliance with these and other related regulatory changes may be significant and may have a material adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows and financial position. As a result, an increase in the price of fuel beyond our expectations may adversely affect our profitability at the time of charter negotiation. Further, fuel may become much more expensive in the future, which may reduce the profitability and competitiveness of our business versus other forms of transportation, such as truck or rail.
While we carry cargo insurance to protect us against certain risks of loss of or damage to the procured commodities, we may not be adequately insured to cover any losses from such operational risks, which could have a material adverse effect on us. Any significant uninsured or under-insured loss or liability could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition and our available cash.
In addition, although the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping currently are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which required adopting countries to implement national programs to reduce emissions of certain gases, or the Paris Agreement (discussed further below), a new treaty may be adopted in the future that includes restrictions on shipping emissions. Compliance with changes in laws, regulations and obligations relating to climate change could increase our costs related to operating and maintaining our vessels and require us to install new emission controls, acquire allowances or pay taxes related to our greenhouse gas emissions or administer and manage a greenhouse gas emissions program. Revenue generation and strategic growth opportunities may also be adversely affected.
Adverse effects upon the oil and gas production industry relating to climate change, including growing public concern about the environmental impact of climate change, may also have an effect on demand for our services. For example, increased regulation of greenhouse gases or other concerns relating to climate change may reduce the demand for oil and gas in the future or create greater incentives for use of alternative energy sources. Any long-term material adverse effect on the oil and gas production industry could have significant financial and operational adverse impacts on our business that we cannot predict with certainty at this time.
Regulations relating to ballast water discharge which came into effect during September 2019 may adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
The IMO has imposed updated guidelines for ballast water management systems specifying the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged from a vessel's ballast water.  Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017 must comply with the updated D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019.  For most vessels, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms.  Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 are to comply with the D-2 standards on or after September 8, 2017.  Our six vessels currently do not comply with the updated guideline and costs of compliance may be substantial and adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
Furthermore, United States regulations are currently changing.  Although the 2013 Vessel General Permit ("VGP") program and U.S. National Invasive Species Act ("NISA") are currently in effect to regulate ballast discharge, exchange and installation, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act ("VIDA"), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018, requires that the EPA develop national standards of performance for approximately 30 discharges, similar to those found in the VGP within two years.  By approximately 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard must develop corresponding implementation, compliance and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water.  The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.
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Please see "Item 4. Information on the Partnership—B. Business Overview—Environmental and Other Regulations."
We operate our vessels worldwide, which could expose us to political, governmental and economic instability, terrorist attacks, international hostilities and global public health threats that could harm or have a material adverse effect our business.
Because we operate our vessels worldwide in the geographic areas where our charterers do business, our operations may be affected by changing economic, political and governmental conditions in the countries where our vessels operate, where they are registered, or where our charterers are located. Moreover, we operate in a sector of the economy that is likely to be adversely impacted by the effects of political conflicts, including the current political instability in the Middle East, the South China Sea region and other geographic countries and areas, geopolitical events such as the withdrawal of the U.K. from the European Union, or Brexit, the U.S. trade war with China, terrorist or other attacks, and war (or threatened war) or international hostilities, such as those between the United States and North Korea.
The threat of future terrorist attacks around the world and continuing instability in the Middle East and elsewhere continue to cause economic uncertainty in the global financial markets and may affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. In addition, LNG facilities, shipyards, ships, pipelines and gas fields could be targets of future terrorist attacks or piracy. Terrorist attacks, or the perception that LNG facilities and LNG carriers are potential terrorist targets, could materially and adversely affect expansion of LNG infrastructure and the continued supply of LNG. Further, any such attacks could lead to, among other things, bodily injury or loss of life, as well as damage to the ships or other property, increased vessel operating costs, including insurance costs, reductions in the supply of LNG and the inability to transport LNG to or from certain locations. Terrorist attacks, war or other events beyond our control that adversely affect the production, storage or transportation of LNG to be shipped by us could entitle our charterers to terminate our charter contracts in certain circumstances, which would harm our cash flows and our business. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents. In addition, crew costs, including those due to employing onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances. Continuing conflicts and recent developments in the Middle East, including increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran which in January 2020 escalated into a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad that killed a high-ranking Iranian general, as well as the presence of U.S. or other armed forces in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and various other regions, may lead to additional acts of terrorism and armed conflict around the world, which may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets and international commerce. Additionally, any escalations between the U.S. and Iran could result in retaliation from Iran that could potentially affect the shipping industry, through increased attacks on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz (which already experienced an increased number of attacks on and seizures of vessels in 2019). Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Further, governments may turn and have turned to trade barriers and trade protectionist policies to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby curtailing or reducing shipping demand. In particular, leaders in the United States and China have implemented certain increasingly protective trade measures which have been somewhat mitigated by the recent trade deal (first phase trade agreement) between the U.S. and China which requires the purchase of over USD 50 billion of Chinese energy product including crude oil. Additionally, in March 2018, President Trump announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum into the United States that could have a negative impact on international trade generally and in January 2019, the United States announced expanded sanctions against Venezuela, which may have an effect on its oil output and in turn affect global oil supply. There have also been continuing trade tensions, including significant tariff increases, between the United States and China. Increasing government trade protectionism may increase the cost of goods exported globally, the length of time required to transport goods and the associated export risks, which may significantly affect the quantity of goods to be shipped, shipping time schedules, voyage costs and other associated costs. As such, any increase in trade barriers or restrictions on trade, such as the U.S. trade war with China, may have a material and adverse impact on our charterers' business, operating results, financial condition and ultimately, affect their ability to make timely charter hire payments to us and to renew and increase the number of their time charters with us. Such a result may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
In addition, we may be affected, either directly or indirectly, by continuing political tension in Europe between Russia and the Ukraine following Russia's annexation of Crimea through our customers Gazprom and Yamal, which are both based in Russia. Economic, political and governmental conditions in these and other regions have from time to time resulted in military conflicts, terrorism, attacks on ships, mining of waterways, piracy and other efforts to disrupt shipping. Future hostilities or other political instability in the geographic regions where we operate or may operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distributions to our unitholders. In addition, our business could also be harmed by tariffs, trade embargoes and other economic sanctions by the United States or other countries against countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Russia or elsewhere as a result of terrorist attacks, hostilities or diplomatic or political pressures that limit trading activities with those countries.
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In Europe, large sovereign debts and fiscal deficits, low growth prospects and high unemployment rates in a number of countries have contributed to the rise of Eurosceptic parties, which would like their countries to leave the Euro. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, or Brexit, and potential new trade policies in the United States further increase the risk of additional trade protectionism.
In addition, public health threats, such as COVID-19, influenza and other highly communicable diseases or viruses, outbreaks of which have from time to time occurred in various parts of the world in which we operate, including China, could adversely impact our operations, the timing of completion of any outstanding or future newbuilding projects, as well as the operations of our customers.
Further economic downturn in any of these countries could have a material and adverse effect on our future performance, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic of diseases and governmental responses thereto could adversely affect our business.
Our operations and the industry in which we operate are subject to risks related to outbreaks of infectious diseases.  For example, the recent outbreak of COVID-19, a virus causing potentially deadly respiratory tract infections originating in China and subsequently spreading around the world, has negatively affected economic conditions, the supply chain, the labor market, the demand for LNG and LNG shipping regionally as well as globally and may otherwise impact our operations and the operations of our customers and suppliers. As of March 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization ("WHO"). Governments in affected countries are imposing travel bans, quarantines and other emergency public health measures. As of March 15, 2020, the United States has temporarily restricted travel by foreign nationals into the country from a number of areas, including China and Europe. In addition, on March 18, 2020, the U.S. and Canada agreed to restrict all nonessential travel across the border. Companies are also taking precautions, such as requiring employees to work remotely, imposing travel restrictions and temporarily closing businesses. These restrictions, and future prevention and mitigation measures, are likely to have an adverse impact on global economic conditions, which could materially and adversely affect our future operations. Uncertainties regarding the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak are likely to result in sustained market turmoil, which could also negatively impact our business, financial condition and cash flows. Governments are approving large stimulus packages to mitigate the effects of the sudden decline in economic activity caused by the pandemic; however, we cannot predict the extent to which these measures will be sufficient to restore or sustain the business and financial condition of companies in the shipping industry. These measures, though temporary in nature, may continue and increase as countries attempt to contain the outbreak. As a result of these measures, our vessels may not be able to call on ports, or may be restricted from disembarking from ports, located in regions affected by COVID-19. The extent of the COVID-19 outbreak's effect on our operational and financial performance will depend on future developments, including the duration, spread and intensity of the outbreak, all of which are uncertain and difficult to predict considering the rapidly evolving landscape. Although, to our knowledge, there has not yet been any significant delays or disruption of our operations due to COVID-19 to date, the ultimate severity of the outbreak and its effect on the industry in which we operate is uncertain at this time and therefore we cannot predict the continuous impact it may have on our future operations and finances, which could be material and adverse. In addition, trading prices of our shares have recently declined significantly and may continue to decline, due in part to the impact of the COVID-19 on global financial markets.
The U.K.'s withdrawal from the European Union may have a negative effect on global economic conditions, financial markets and our business.
In June 2016, a majority of voters in the U.K. elected to withdraw from the EU in a national referendum (informally known as "Brexit"), a process that the government of the U.K. formally initiated in March 2017. Since then, the U.K. and the EU have been negotiating the terms of a withdrawal agreement, which was approved in October 2019 and ratified in January 2020. The U.K. formally exited the EU on January 31, 2020, although a transition period remains in place until December 2020, during which the U.K. will be subject to the rules and regulations of the EU while continuing to negotiate the parties' relationship going forward, including trade deals. There is currently no agreement in place regarding the aftermath of the withdrawal, creating significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the U.K. and the EU, including with respect to the laws and regulations that will apply as the U.K. determines which EU-derived laws to replace or replicate following the withdrawal. Brexit has also given rise to calls for the governments of other EU member states to consider withdrawal. These developments and uncertainties, or the perception that any of them may occur, have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions and the stability of global financial markets, and may significantly reduce global market liquidity and restrict the ability of key market participants to operate in certain financial markets. Any of these factors could depress economic activity and restrict our access to capital, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and on our consolidated financial position, results of operations and our ability to pay distributions. Additionally, Brexit or similar events in other jurisdictions, could impact global markets, including foreign exchange and securities markets; any resulting changes in currency exchange rates, tariffs, treaties and other regulatory matters could in turn adversely impact our business and operations.
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Brexit contributes to considerable uncertainty concerning the current and future economic environment. Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets.
The smuggling of drugs or other contraband onto our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.
We expect that our vessels will call in ports where smugglers may attempt to hide drugs and other contraband on vessels, with or without the knowledge of crew members. To the extent our vessels are found with contraband, whether inside or attached to the hull of our vessels and whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims that could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial position and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders.
Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-bribery legislation in other jurisdictions could result in fines, criminal penalties, contract terminations and an adverse effect on our business.
We may operate in a number of countries throughout the world, including countries known to have a reputation for corruption. We are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws and have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics which is consistent and in full compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. We are subject, however, to the risk that we, our affiliated entities or our or their respective officers, directors, employees and agents may take actions determined to be in violation of such anti-corruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties, curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions, and might materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations are expensive and can consume significant time and attention of our senior management.
Acts of piracy on ocean-going vessels could adversely affect our business.
Acts of piracy have historically affected ocean-going vessels trading in regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia and in particular, the Gular of Guinea region off Nigeria, which experienced increased incidents of piracy in 2019.  Acts of piracy could, in the future, result in harm or danger to the crews that man our vessels. In addition, if these piracy attacks result in regions in which our vessels are deployed being characterized by insurers as "enhanced risk" zones or "war risk" zones or Joint War Committee "war and strikes" listed areas, premiums payable for such coverage could increase significantly and such insurance coverage may be more difficult to obtain.  In addition, crew costs, due to employing onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances.  We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, detention hijacking, involving the hostile detention of a vessel, as a result of an act of piracy against our vessels, or an increase in cost, or unavailability of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of
If the vessels we own call on ports located in countries or territories that are subject to sanctions or embargoes imposed by the United States and other governments, it could result in the imposition of fines or penalties and adversely affect our reputation and the market for our securities.
Although no vessels operated by us called on ports located in countries or territories subject to country-wide or territory-wide sanctions and/or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government or other authorities or countries identified by the U.S. government or other authorities as state sponsors of terrorism ("Sanctioned Jurisdictions") during 2019, and although we intend to maintain compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and have processes in place designed to reasonably ensure compliance with applicable economic sanctions and embargo laws, in the future our vessels may call on ports in Sanctioned Jurisdictions on charterers' instructions without our consent. If such activities result in a sanctions violation, we could be subject to monetary fines, penalties, or other sanctions, and our reputation and the market for our common stock could be adversely affected.
The sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities, and such sanctions and embargo laws and regulations may be amended or strengthened over time. Current or future counterparties of ours may be affiliated with persons or entities that are or may be in the future the subject of sanctions imposed by the U.S. administration, the EU, and/or other international bodies. If we determine that such sanctions require us to terminate existing or future contracts to which we or our subsidiaries are party or if we are found to be in violation of such applicable sanctions, our results of operations may be adversely affected, we could face monetary fines or penalties, or we may suffer reputational harm.
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Additionally, although we believe that we have been in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation could result in fines, penalties or other sanctions that could severely impact our ability to access U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. In addition, certain institutional investors may have investment policies or restrictions that prevent them from holding securities of companies that have contracts with countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. The determination by these investors not to invest in, or to divest from, our common units may adversely affect the price at which our common units trade. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. Investor perception of the value of our common units may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries or territories. In addition, charterers and other parties that we have previously entered into contracts with regarding our vessels may be affiliated with persons or entities that are now or may in the future be the subject of sanctions or embargo laws imposed by the U.S. and other applicable governmental bodies in response to events relating to Russia, Crimea and the Ukraine. If we determine that such sanctions require us to terminate existing contracts or if we are found to be in violation of such sanctions or embargo laws, we may suffer reputational harm and our results of operations may be adversely affected.
With respect to U.S. sanctions against Russia, the United States' Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) created "sectoral sanctions," which target specific industries or sectors of the Russian economy. Transactions with companies designated under the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List ("SSI List") are not completely prohibited. Under OFAC's 50 percent rule, a company owned 50 percent or more by an SSI-Listed entity is also to be treated as an SSI-Listed entity. Yamal is indirectly owned 50 percent or more by an SSI-Listed entity under Directive 2. Gazprom OAO is identified as an SSI-Listed entity under Directive 4, and entities that are owned by 50% or more by Gazprom OAO would be subject to Directive 4 as well. The sectoral sanctions, in part, restrict the ability of U.S. persons from transacting in, providing financing for, or otherwise dealing in debt issued by named persons on the SSI List or parties owned 50% or more by such listed parties. Directive 2, which targets Russia's energy sector, prohibits U.S. persons from transacting in, providing financing for, or otherwise dealing in debt longer than 60 days, if issued by entities designated under Directive 2 on or after November 28, 2017, or longer than 90 days if issued by entities designated under Directive 2 on or after July 16, 2014 and before November 28, 2017. OFAC has advised in its published Frequently Asked Questions that with respect to the provision of services to, subscription arrangements involving, and progress payments for long-term projects involving SSI entities, final invoices to these SSI entities must be paid by the SSI entity within the applicable 60 or 90 day period. Directive 4 prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any activity involving the provision, exportation, or reexportation, directly or indirectly, of goods, services, and technology in support of exploration or production for deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects that have the potential to produce oil in the Russian federation and that involve a Directive 4 SSI-Listed entity or their property or interests in property, or that are initiated after January 19, 2018 and have the potential to produce oil anywhere and a Directive 4 SSI-Listed entity or their property or interests in property has a 33 percent or greater interest or ownership of a majority of the voting interests. Although the sectoral sanctions do not directly apply to non-U.S. persons, Section 228 of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act ("CAATSA") prohibits non-U.S. persons from facilitating "significant transactions" for or on behalf SDNs and SSI-Listed entities, as well as entities owned 50 percent or more by such entities. A transaction is not "significant" if U.S. persons would not require specific licenses from OFAC and transactions with SSI-Listed entities are "significant" where they involve "deceptive practices," which OFAC has described as "attempts to obscure or conceal the actual parties or true nature of the transaction(s), or to evade sanctions." In the future, the U.S. may impose greater sanctions, including, but not limited to, by designating Yamal or other counterparties on the OFAC list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons ("SDN List").
As previously noted, if we acquire any or all of the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor pursuant to the terms and subject to the conditions of the Omnibus Agreement, it is expected that we will own such vessels jointly with Sinotrans Shipping LNG Limited, or Sinotrans, and China LNG Shipping (Holdings) Limited, or China LNG Shipping, and we will become party to the shareholders' agreement which governs this joint venture relationship.  For a brief period in 2019, China LNG Shipping was a Blocked Person under the rules and regulations administered by OFAC.  While China LNG Shipping is no longer a Blocked Person, it is possible that they may become one in the future, which could impact our ability to acquire the Optional Vessels.
In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected by our engagement in certain other activities, such as our dealings with Yamal, Gazprom or other SSI-Listed entities or their subsidiaries, or if we enter into charters with other individuals or entities in countries subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries, engage in operations associated with those countries pursuant to contracts with third-parties that are unrelated to those countries or entities controlled by their governments, or otherwise engage in activities that are prohibited by U.S., the European Union or other sanctions to the extent that such sanctions may be applicable. Furthermore, because we derive, and expect to continue to derive, all of our revenues from a limited number of charterers, our business would be materially adversely affected if we were to determine that we are required because of sanctions, to terminate our relationships with Yamal, Gazprom, or any of our other charterers, or if the negative impact of these or any additional sanctions imposed in the future threaten the viability of the Yamal LNG Project or otherwise cause Yamal, Gazprom or any of our other charterers to end their relationships with us. Furthermore, while all of the Optional Vessels are employed or contracted to be employed by Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project, in the event any of the Optional Vessels is no longer so employed, we may lose the option to purchase our Sponsor's 49% ownership interest in the vessels under the Omnibus Agreement. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
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Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, resulting in loss of earnings.
The government of a jurisdiction where one or more of our vessels are registered could requisition for title or seize our vessels. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes its owner. Also, a government could requisition our vessels for hire. Requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes the charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during a period of war or emergency, although governments may elect to requisition ships in other circumstances. Although we would expect to be entitled to government compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels, the amount and timing of payments, if any, would be uncertain. A government requisition of one or more of our vessels would result in off-hire days under our time charters and may cause us to breach covenants in debt agreements, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, including cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
Maritime claimants could arrest our vessels, which could interrupt our cash flows.
Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against a vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a claimant may seek to obtain security for its claim by arresting a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arrest or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our cash flow and require us to pay large sums of money to have the arrest or attachment lifted. In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the "sister ship" theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel which is subject to the claimant's maritime lien and any "associated" vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could attempt to assert "sister ship" liability against a vessel in our Fleet for claims relating to another of our vessels.
We may be subject to litigation that could have an adverse effect on us
We are currently involved and may in the future be involved from time to time in litigation matters. These matters may include, among other things, contract disputes, personal injury claims, environmental claims or proceedings, toxic tort claims, employment matters, securities class actions claims and governmental claims for taxes or duties as well as other litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. We cannot predict with certainty the outcome of any claim or other litigation matter. The ultimate outcome of any litigation matter and the potential costs associated with prosecuting or defending such lawsuits, including the diversion of management's attention to these matters, could have an adverse effect on us and, in the event of litigation that could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on us, could lead to an event of default under our credit facilities.  For information regarding pending litigation claims, see Item 8A– Financial Information.— Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information – Legal Proceedings."
Risks Relating to our Common Units
The price of our common units may be volatile.
The price of our common units may be volatile and may fluctuate due to factors including:

our payment of cash distributions to our unitholders;

actual or anticipated fluctuations in quarterly and annual results;

fluctuations in the seaborne transportation industry, including fluctuations in the LNG carrier market;

mergers and strategic alliances in the shipping industry;

changes in governmental regulations or maritime self-regulatory organization standards;

shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecasted by securities analysts; announcements concerning us or our competitors;

the failure of securities analysts to publish research about us, or analysts making changes in their financial estimates;

general economic conditions;

terrorist acts;

business interruptions caused by the recent outbreak of COVID-19;
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future sales of our units or other securities;

investors' perception of us and the LNG shipping industry;

the general state of the securities market; and

other developments affecting us, our industry or our competitors.
Securities markets worldwide are experiencing significant price and volume fluctuations. The market price for our common units may also be volatile. This market volatility, as well as general economic, market or political conditions, could reduce the market price of our common units in spite of our operating performance.
Increases in interest rates may cause the market price of our common units to decline.
An increase in interest rates may cause a corresponding decline in demand for equity investments in general. Any such increase in interest rates or reduction in demand for our common units resulting from other relatively more attractive investment opportunities may cause the trading price of our common units to decline.
Unitholders may have liability to repay distributions.
Under some circumstances, unitholders may have to repay amounts wrongfully returned or distributed to them. Under the Partnership Act, we may not make a distribution to our unitholders if the distribution would cause our liabilities to exceed the fair value of our assets. Marshall Islands law provides that for a period of three years from the date of the impermissible distribution, limited partners who received the distribution and who knew at the time of the distribution that it violated Marshall Islands law will be liable to the limited partnership for the distribution amount. Assignees who become substituted limited partners are liable for the obligations of the assignor to make contributions to the Partnership that are known to the assignee at the time it became a limited partner and for unknown obligations if the liabilities could be determined from the Partnership Agreement. Liabilities to partners on account of their partnership interest and liabilities that are non-recourse to the partnership are not counted for purposes of determining whether a distribution is permitted.
We may issue additional equity securities, including securities senior to the common units, without the approval of our common unitholders, which would dilute the ownership interests of the common unitholders.
We may, without the approval of our common unitholders, issue an unlimited number of additional units or other equity securities, subject to the restriction in our $675 Million Credit Facility that the Sponsor must own at least 30% of our total common units outstanding. In addition, we may issue an unlimited number of units that are senior to the common units in right of distribution, liquidation and voting. These sales could also impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of our equity securities in the future. The issuance by us of additional common units or other equity securities of equal or senior rank may have the following effects:

our existing unitholders' proportionate ownership interest in us will decrease;

the amount of cash available for distribution per unit may decrease;

the relative voting strength of each previously outstanding unit may be diminished; and

the market price of our common units may decline.
We have been organized as a limited partnership under the laws of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of partnership law.
We are organized in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, which does not have a well-developed body of case law or bankruptcy law and, as a result, unitholders may have fewer rights and protections under Marshall Islands law than under a typical jurisdiction in the United States. Our partnership affairs are governed by our Partnership Agreement and by the Partnership Act. The provisions of the Partnership Act resemble the limited partnership laws of a number of states in the United States, most notably Delaware. The Partnership Act also provides that it is to be applied and construed to make it uniform with the Delaware Revised Uniform Partnership Act and, so long as it does not conflict with the Partnership Act or decisions of the Marshall Islands courts, interpreted according to the non-statutory law (or case law) of the State of Delaware. There have been, however, few, if any, court cases in the Marshall Islands interpreting the Partnership Act, in contrast to Delaware, which has a fairly well-developed body of case law interpreting its limited partnership statute. Accordingly, we cannot predict whether Marshall Islands courts would reach the same conclusions as the courts in Delaware. For example, the rights of our unitholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our General Partner under Marshall Islands law are not as clearly established as under judicial precedent in existence in Delaware. As a result, unitholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions by our General Partner and its officers and directors than would unitholders of a similarly organized limited partnership in the United States. Further, the Republic of the Marshall Islands does not have a well-developed body of bankruptcy law. As such, in the case of a bankruptcy of our Partnership, there may be a delay of bankruptcy proceedings and the ability of unitholders and creditors to receive recovery after a bankruptcy proceeding.
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We are a "foreign private issuer" under New York Stock Exchange, or the NYSE, rules, and as such we are entitled to exemption from certain corporate governance standards of the NYSE applicable to domestic companies, and holders of our common units may not have the same protections afforded to unitholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.
We are a "foreign private issuer" under the securities laws of the United States and the rules of the NYSE. Under the securities laws of the United States, "foreign private issuers" are subject to different disclosure requirements than U.S. domiciled registrants, as well as different financial reporting requirements. As a foreign private issuer, we are exempt under the Exchange Act from, among other things, certain rules prescribing the furnishing and content of proxy statements, and our executive officers, directors and principal unitholders are exempt from the reporting and short-swing profit recovery provisions contained in Section 16 of the Exchange Act. In addition, we are not required under the Exchange Act to file periodic reports and financial statements with the SEC as frequently or as promptly as U.S. companies whose securities are registered under the Exchange Act, including the filing of quarterly reports or current reports on Form 8-K. Under the NYSE rules, a "foreign private issuer" is subject to less stringent corporate governance requirements. Subject to certain exceptions, the rules of the NYSE permit a "foreign private issuer" to follow its home country practice in lieu of the listing requirements of the NYSE.
A majority of our directors qualify as independent under the NYSE director independence requirements. However, we cannot assure you that we will continue to maintain an independent board in the future. In addition, we may have one or more non-independent directors serving as committee members on our compensation committee. As a result, non-independent directors may among other things, participate in fixing the compensation of our management, making share and option awards and resolving governance issues regarding our Partnership.
Accordingly, in the future holders of our common units may not have the same protections afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to all of the NYSE corporate governance requirements.
For a description of our corporate governance practices, please see "Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees."
Because we are organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands, it may be difficult to serve us with legal process or enforce judgments against us, our directors or our management.
We are organized under the laws of the Marshall Islands, and substantially all of our assets are located outside of the United States. In addition, our directors and officers generally are or will be non-residents of the United States, and all or a substantial portion of the assets of these non-residents are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for holders of our common units to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States if they believe that their rights have been infringed under securities laws or otherwise. Even if holders of our common units are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Marshall Islands and of other jurisdictions may prevent or restrict them from enforcing a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors or officers.
Our Partnership Agreement designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for any claims, suits, actions or proceedings, unless otherwise provided for by Marshall Islands law, for certain litigation that may be initiated by our unitholders, which could limit our unitholders' ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with the Partnership.
Our Partnership Agreement provides that, unless otherwise provided for by Marshall Islands law, the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for any claims that:

arise out of or relate in any way to the Partnership Agreement (including any claims, suits or actions to interpret, apply or enforce the provisions of the Partnership Agreement or the duties, obligations or liabilities among limited partners or of limited partners to us, or the rights or powers of, or restrictions on, the limited partners or us);

are brought in a derivative manner on our behalf;

assert a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee of us or our General Partner, or owed by our General Partner, to us or the limited partners;

assert a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Partnership Act; or

assert a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine,
regardless of whether such claims, suits, actions or proceedings sound in contract, tort, fraud or otherwise, are based on common law, statutory, equitable, legal or other grounds, or are derivative or direct claims. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring any interest in our common units shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the provisions described above. This forum selection provision may limit our unitholders' ability to obtain a judicial forum that they find favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees or unitholders.
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Provisions in our organizational documents may have anti-takeover effects.
Our Partnership Agreement contains provisions that could make it more difficult for a third-party to acquire us without the consent of our Board of Directors. These provisions require approval of our Board of Directors and prior consent of our General Partner.
These provisions could also make it difficult for our unitholders to replace or remove our current Board of Directors or could have the effect of discouraging, delaying or preventing an offer by a third-party to acquire us, even if the third-party's offer may be considered beneficial by many unitholders. As a result, unitholders may be limited in their ability to obtain a premium for their common units.
Risks Relating to our Indebtedness
Our debt levels could limit our liquidity and flexibility in obtaining additional financing and in pursuing other business opportunities.
As of December 31, 2019, we had total outstanding long-term debt of $663.0 million, consisting of amounts outstanding under our $675 Million Credit Facility (as defined below). In addition, we have the ability to borrow an additional $30 million under our interest free $30 million revolving credit facility with our Sponsor, or the $30 Million Revolving Credit Facility. On November 14, 2018, we extended our $30 Million Revolving Credit Facility with our Sponsor for an additional five-year term on terms and conditions substantially similar to the existing credit facility. We expect that a large portion of our cash flow from operations will be used to repay the principal and interest on our outstanding indebtedness.
Our current indebtedness and future indebtedness that we may incur could affect our future operations, as a significant portion of our cash flow from operations will be dedicated to the payment of interest and principal on such debt and will not be available for other purposes.  Our debt levels may limit our flexibility in obtaining additional financing, pursuing other business opportunities and paying distributions to unitholders.  Covenants contained in our debt agreements may affect our flexibility in planning for, and reacting to, changes in our business or economic conditions, limit our ability to dispose of assets or place restrictions on the use of proceeds from such dispositions, withstand current or future economic or industry downturns and compete with others in our industry for strategic opportunities, and limit our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions, general corporate and other purposes and our ability to make distributions to our unitholders. Under the terms of the $675 Million Credit Facility, the Partnership restricted from paying distributions to its common unitholders while borrowings are outstanding under the $675 Million Credit Facility.
Our ability to service our debt will depend upon, among other things, our future financial and operating performance, which will be affected by prevailing economic conditions and financial, business, regulatory and other factors, some of which are beyond our control. If our operating results are not sufficient to service our current or future indebtedness, we will be forced to take actions such as reducing or eliminating distributions to our unitholders, reducing or delaying our business activities, acquisitions, investments or capital expenditures, selling assets, restructuring or refinancing our debt, or seeking additional equity capital or bankruptcy protection. We may not be able to effect any of these remedies on satisfactory terms, or at all. Additionally, the ability of our Sponsor to perform its obligations under the $30 Million Revolving Credit Facility will depend on a number of factors that may be beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions and the overall financial condition of our Sponsor.
We may be unable to comply with covenants in our debt agreements or any future financial obligations that impose operating and financial restrictions on us.
Certain of our existing and future debt agreements, which may be secured by mortgages on our vessels, impose and will impose certain operating and financial restrictions on us, including ensuring that the outstanding amount of the debt agreement does not exceed a certain percentage of the aggregate fair market value of the mortgaged vessel(s) under the applicable credit facility, restricting our operations or ability to incur additional debt, pay distributions consistent with our past practices or issue equity that would result in our Sponsor ceasing to directly own at least 30% of our total common partnership interest. The operating and financial restrictions and covenants in our $675 Million Credit Facility (as defined below) and any new or amended credit facility we enter into in the future, could adversely affect our ability to finance future operations or capital needs or to engage, expand or pursue our business activities.
For example, our $675 Million Credit Facility requires the consent of our lenders to, among other things:

incur or guarantee indebtedness outside of our ordinary course of business;

sell, lease, transfer or otherwise dispose of our assets;

redeem, repurchase or otherwise reduce any of our equity or share capital; and

declare or pay any dividend, charge, fee or distribution to our common unitholders (as described below).
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Pursuant to the terms of the $675 million Credit Facility, it is considered a change of control, which could allow the lenders to declare the facility payable within ten days,  if, among other things, (i)  Dynagas Holdings Ltd. ceases to own 30% of our total common units outstanding, (ii) any person or persons acting in consent (other than certain permitted holders as defined therein) own a higher percentage of our total common units than in Dynagas LNG Partners LP ("Parent") than our Sponsor and/or have the ability to control, either directly or indirectly, the affairs or composition of the majority of the board of directors or the board of managers of the Parent, (iii) Mr. George Prokopiou ceases to be our Chairman and/or member of our board, or (iv) Dynagas GP LLC ceases to be our general partner.
The $675 Million Credit Facility also requires us to comply with the International Safety Management Code and to maintain valid safety management certificates and documents of compliance at all times and also comply with the following financial covenants:

maintain cash and cash equivalents of not less than 8 per cent of our total liabilities; and

maintain a consolidated leverage ratio of total liabilities to the aggregate market value of our total assets of no more than 0.7:1.0.
Should our charter rates or vessel values materially decline in the future, we may seek to obtain waivers or amendments from our lenders with respect to such financial ratios and covenants, or we may be required to take action to reduce our debt or to act in a manner contrary to our business objectives to meet any such financial ratios and satisfy any such financial covenants. Events beyond our control, including changes in the economic and business conditions in the shipping markets in which we operate, interest rate developments, changes in the funding costs of our banks and changes in vessel earnings and asset valuations and outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic of diseases, such as the recent outbreak of COVID-19, may affect our ability to comply with these covenants. We cannot assure you that we will meet these ratios or satisfy these covenants or that our lenders will waive any failure to do so or amend these requirements.

The operating restrictions contained in our existing and future debt agreements may prohibit or otherwise limit our ability to, among other things:

obtain additional financing, if necessary, for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or other purposes on favorable terms, or at all;

make distributions to unitholders;

incur additional indebtedness, create liens or issue guarantees;

charter our vessels or change the terms of our existing charter agreements;

sell, transfer or lease our assets or vessels or the shares of our vessel-owning subsidiaries;

make investments and capital expenditures;

reduce our partners' capital; and

undergo a change in ownership or Manager.
A breach of any of the covenants in, or our inability to maintain the required financial ratios under, our current or future debt agreements would prevent us from borrowing additional money under such debt agreements and could result in a default thereunder. Therefore, we may need to seek permission from our lenders in order to engage in some actions. Our lenders' interests may be different from ours and we may not be able to obtain our lenders' permission when needed. This may limit our ability to pay distributions on our Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units, finance our future operations or capital requirements, make acquisitions or pursue business opportunities.
In addition, our credit facilities may prohibit the payment of distributions to our Series A and Series B preferred unitholders upon the occurrence of events of default under our debt agreement, which may include, among other things, the following:

failure to pay any principal, interest, fees, expenses or other amounts when due;

failure to observe any other agreement, security instrument, obligation or covenant beyond specified cure periods in certain cases;

default under other indebtedness;

an event of insolvency or bankruptcy;

failure of any representation or warranty to be materially correct; and

a change of control whereby the Partnership or its affiliates no longer hold, indirectly or directly, 100% of the interests in Arctic LNG Carriers.
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A violation of any of the provisions contained in our existing or future debt agreements may constitute an event of default under such debt agreement, which, unless cured or waived or modified by our lenders, provides our lenders with the right to, among other things, declare the outstanding debt, together with accrued interest and other fees, to be immediately due and payable, or to require us to post additional collateral, enhance our equity and liquidity, increase our interest payments, pay down our indebtedness to a level where we are in compliance with our loan covenants, sell vessels in our Fleet, reclassify our indebtedness as current liabilities and accelerate our indebtedness and foreclose their liens on our vessels and the other assets securing the credit facilities, which would impair our ability to continue to conduct our business.
See "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources."
Risks Relating to our Series A and Series B Preferred Units
Our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units are subordinate to our indebtedness, and the interests of holders of Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units could be diluted by the issuance of additional preferred units, including additional Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units, and by other transactions.
Our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units are subordinated to all of our existing and future indebtedness. The payment of principal and interest on our debt reduces cash available for distributions and therefore, our ability to pay distributions on, redeem at our option or pay the liquidation preference on our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units in liquidation or otherwise may be subject to prior payments due to the holders of our indebtedness.
The issuance of additional limited partner interests on a parity with or senior to our Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units would dilute the interests of the holders of our Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units, as applicable, and any issuance of senior securities or parity securities or additional indebtedness could affect our ability to pay distributions on, redeem or pay the liquidation preference on our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units. No provisions relating to our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units protect the holders of our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units, as applicable, in the event of a highly leveraged or other transaction, including a merger or the sale, lease or conveyance of all or substantially all of our assets or business, which might adversely affect the holders of our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units.
In the event of any liquidation event, the amount of your liquidation preference is fixed and you will have no right to receive any greater payment regardless of the circumstances.
In the event of any liquidation, dissolution or winding up of our affairs, whether voluntary or involuntary, the payment due upon a liquidation event is fixed at a redemption price of $25.00 per unit plus an amount equal to all accumulated and unpaid distributions up to, and including, the date of liquidation. If, in the case of a liquidation event, there are remaining assets to be distributed after payment of this amount, you will have no right to receive or to participate in these amounts. Furthermore, if the market price of your Series A Preferred Units or your Series B Preferred Units is greater than the applicable liquidation preference, you will have no right to receive the market price from us upon our liquidation.
As a holder of Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units, you have extremely limited voting rights.
Your voting rights as a holder of Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units are extremely limited. Our common units are the only class of limited partner interests carrying full voting rights. Holders of the Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units generally have no voting rights. However, in the event that six quarterly distributions, whether consecutive or not, payable on  our Series A Preferred Units or our Series B Preferred Units or any other parity securities (if applicable), are in arrears, the holders of such Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units will have the right, voting together as a class with all other classes or series of parity securities (if applicable) upon which like voting rights have been conferred and are exercisable, to elect one additional director to serve on our Board of Directors, and the size of our Board of Directors will be increased as needed to accommodate such change (unless the holders of Series A Preferred Units, Series B Preferred Units, and parity securities (if applicable) upon which like voting rights have been conferred, voting as a class, have previously elected a member of our Board of Directors, and such director continues then to serve on the Board of Directors). The right of such holders of Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units to elect a member of our Board of Directors will continue until such time as all accumulated and unpaid distributions on the Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units have been paid in full.
Market interest rates may adversely affect the value of our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units.
One of the factors that will influence the price of our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units will be the distribution yield on such Series A Preferred Units and the Series B Preferred Units (as a percentage of the price of our Series A Preferred Units or our Series B Preferred Units, as applicable) relative to market interest rates. An increase in market interest rates may lead prospective purchasers of our Series A Preferred Units or our Series B Preferred Units to expect a distribution yield higher than what is paid on the applicable Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units, and higher interest rates would likely increase our borrowing costs which could potentially decrease funds available for distributions to our unitholders. Accordingly, higher market interest rates could cause the market price of our Series A Preferred Units or our Series B Preferred Units to decrease.
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The Series A Preferred Units and the Series B Preferred Units are redeemable at our option.
We may redeem, at our option, all or, from time to time, part of the Series A Preferred Units on or after August 12, 2020. If we redeem your Series A Preferred Units, you will be entitled to receive a redemption price equal to $25.00 per unit plus an amount equal to all accumulated and unpaid distributions thereon to the date of redemption. We may redeem, at our option, all or, from time to time, part of our Series B Preferred Units on or after November 22, 2023. If we redeem your Series B Preferred Units, you will be entitled to receive a redemption price equal to $25.00 per unit plus an amount equal to all accumulated and unpaid distributions thereon to the date of redemption. It is likely that we would choose to exercise our optional redemption right only when prevailing interest rates have declined, which would adversely affect your ability to reinvest your proceeds from the redemption in a comparable investment with an equal or greater yield to the yield on the applicable series of the preferred units had such series of preferred units not been redeemed. We may elect to exercise our partial redemption right on multiple occasions.
 We continuously evaluate potential transactions which we believe enhance unitholder value or are in the best interests of the Partnership, the announcement of which may have an adverse effect on unitholders and other stakeholders.
We continuously evaluate potential transactions that we believe will be accretive to earnings, enhance unitholder value or are in the best interests of the Partnership, which may include pursuit of other business combinations, the acquisition of vessels or related businesses, the expansion of our operations, repayment of existing debt, unit repurchases, short term investments, going private transactions or other transactions.  The announcement and pendency of any such transaction could have an adverse effect on our unitholders, relationships with customers and third-party service providers.
Risks Relating to Conflicts of Interest
Our Sponsor, our General Partner and their respective affiliates own a significant interest in us and have conflicts of interest and limited duties to us and our common unitholders, which may permit them to favor their own interests to your detriment.
Members of the Prokopiou Family control our Sponsor, our Manager and our General Partner. Our Sponsor currently owns 15,595,000 of our common units, representing approximately 44% of the outstanding common units and our General Partner owns a 0.1% General Partner interest in us and 100% of our incentive distribution rights and therefore may have considerable influence over our actions. Our $675 Million Credit Facility requires that our Sponsor owns at least 30% of our total common units outstanding. The interests of our Sponsor and the members of the Prokopiou Family may be different from your interests and the relationships described above could create conflicts of interest. We cannot assure you that any conflicts of interest will be resolved in your favor.
Conflicts of interest exist and may arise in the future as a result of the relationships between our General Partner and its affiliates, including Dynagas Holding Ltd., on the one hand, and us and our unaffiliated limited partners, on the other hand. Our General Partner has a fiduciary duty to make any decisions relating to our management in a manner beneficial to us and our unitholders. Similarly, our Board of Directors has fiduciary duties to manage us in a manner beneficial to us, our General Partner and our limited partners. Certain of our officers and directors will also be officers of our Sponsor or its affiliates and will have fiduciary duties to our Sponsor or its affiliates that may cause them to pursue business strategies that disproportionately benefit our Sponsor or its affiliates or which otherwise are not in the best interests of us or our unitholders. As a result of these relationships, conflicts of interest may arise between us and our unaffiliated limited partners on the one hand, and our Sponsor and its affiliates, including our General Partner, on the other hand. Although a majority of our directors are elected by our common unitholders, our General Partner, through its appointed directors, has certain influence on decisions made by our Board of Directors. Our Board of Directors has a Conflicts Committee comprised of independent directors. Our Board of Directors may, but is not obligated to, seek approval of the Conflicts Committee for resolutions of conflicts of interest that may arise as a result of the relationships between our Sponsor and its affiliates, on the one hand, and us and our unaffiliated limited partners, on the other hand. The resolution of these conflicts may not be in the best interest of us or our unitholders. We, our officers and directors and our General Partner will not owe any fiduciary duties to holders of the Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units other than a contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing pursuant to the Partnership Agreement. There can be no assurance that a conflict of interest will be resolved in favor of us.
These conflicts include, among others, the following situations:

neither our Partnership Agreement nor any other agreement requires our Sponsor or our General Partner or their respective affiliates to pursue a business strategy that favors us or utilizes our assets, and their officers and directors have a fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interests of their respective unitholders, which may be contrary to our interests;
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our Partnership Agreement provides that our General Partner may make determinations or take or decline to take actions without regard to our or our unitholders' interests. Specifically, our General Partner may exercise its call right, pre-emptive rights, registration rights or right to make a determination to receive common units in exchange for resetting the target distribution levels related to the incentive distribution rights, consent or withhold consent to any merger or consolidation of the Partnership, appoint certain directors or vote for the election of any director, vote or refrain from voting on amendments to our Partnership Agreement that require a vote of the outstanding units, voluntarily withdraw from the Partnership, transfer (to the extent permitted under our Partnership Agreement) or refrain from transferring its units, the General Partner interest or incentive distribution rights or vote upon the dissolution of the Partnership;

our General Partner and our directors and officers have limited their liabilities and any fiduciary duties they may have under the laws of the Marshall Islands, while also restricting the remedies available to our unitholders, and, as a result of purchasing common units, unitholders are treated as having agreed to the modified standard of fiduciary duties and to certain actions that may be taken by the General Partner and our directors and officers, all as set forth in the Partnership Agreement;

our General Partner and our Manager are entitled to reimbursement of all reasonable costs incurred by them and their respective affiliates for our benefit; our Partnership Agreement does not restrict us from paying our General Partner and our Manager or their respective affiliates for any services rendered to us on terms that are fair and reasonable or entering into additional contractual arrangements with any of these entities on our behalf;

our General Partner may exercise its right to call and purchase our common units if it and its affiliates own more than 80% of our common units; and is not obligated to obtain a fairness opinion regarding the value of the common units to be repurchased by it upon the exercise of its limited call right; and

although a majority of our directors are elected by common unitholders, our General Partner will likely have substantial influence on decisions made by our Board of Directors.
Our General Partner has limited its liability regarding our obligations.
Our General Partner has limited its liability under contractual arrangements so that the other party has recourse only to our assets and not against our General Partner or its assets or any affiliate of our General Partner or its assets. The Partnership Agreement provides that any action taken by our General Partner to limit its or our liability is not a breach of our General Partner's fiduciary duties owed to common unitholders or a breach of our General Partner's contractual duty of good faith and fair dealing to holders of the Series A and Series B Preferred Units even if we could have obtained terms that are more favorable without the limitation on liability.
Neither our Partnership Agreement nor any other agreement requires our Sponsor to pursue a business strategy that favors us or utilizes our assets or dictates what markets to pursue or grow. Our Sponsor's directors and executive officers have a fiduciary duty to make these decisions in the best interests of the shareholders of our Sponsor, which may be contrary to our interests.
Because certain of our officers and directors are also officers of our Sponsor and its affiliates, such directors have fiduciary duties to our Sponsor and its affiliates that may cause them to pursue business strategies that disproportionately benefit our Sponsor, or which otherwise are not in the best interests of us or our unitholders.
Our General Partner is allowed to take into account the interests of parties other than us, such as our Sponsor.
Our Partnership Agreement contains provisions that reduce the standards to which our General Partner would otherwise be held by Marshall Islands fiduciary duty law. For example, our Partnership Agreement permits our General Partner to make a number of decisions in its individual capacity, as opposed to in its capacity as our General Partner. This entitles our General Partner to consider only the interests and factors that it desires, and it has no duty or obligations to give any consideration to any interest of or factors affecting us, our affiliates or any unitholder. Decisions made by our General Partner in its individual capacity will be made by its sole owner, Dynagas Holding Ltd. Specifically, our General Partner will be considered to be acting in its individual capacity if it exercises its call right, pre-emptive rights, registration rights or right to make a determination to receive common units in a resetting of the target distribution levels related to its incentive distribution rights, consents or withholds consent to any merger or consolidation of the Partnership, appoints any directors or votes for the election of any director, votes or refrains from voting on amendments to our Partnership Agreement that require a vote of the outstanding units, voluntarily withdraws from the Partnership, transfers (to the extent permitted under our Partnership Agreement) or refrains from transferring its units, General Partner interest or incentive distribution rights it owns or votes upon the dissolution of the Partnership.
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Substantial future sales of our common units in the public market could cause the price of our common units to fall.
We have granted registration rights to our Sponsor and certain its affiliates pursuant to our Partnership Agreement. These unitholders have the right, subject to some conditions, to require us to file registration statements covering any of our common or other equity securities owned by them or to include those securities in registration statements that we have or may file for ourselves or other unitholders. As of the date of this Annual Report, our Sponsor owns 15,595,000 common units. Following their registration and sale under the applicable registration statement, those securities will become freely tradable. Any sale by our Sponsor of a number of our common units or other securities could cause the price of our common units to decline.
Common unitholders, holders of our Series A Preferred Units, and holders of our Series B Preferred Units have no right to enforce obligations of our General Partner and its affiliates under agreements with us.
Any agreements between us, on the one hand, and our General Partner and its affiliates, on the other, do not and will not grant to the holders of our common units, Series A Preferred Units and Series B Preferred Units separate and apart from us, the right to enforce the obligations of our General Partner and its affiliates in our favor.
Contracts between us, on the one hand, and our General Partner and its affiliates, on the other, will not be the result of arm's-length negotiations.
Neither our Partnership Agreement nor any of the other agreements, contracts and arrangements between us and our General Partner and its affiliates are or will be the result of arm's-length negotiations. Our Partnership Agreement generally provides that any affiliated transaction, such as an agreement, contract or arrangement between us and our General Partner and its affiliates, must be:

on terms no less favorable to us than those generally being provided to or available from unrelated third-parties; or

"fair and reasonable" to us, taking into account the totality of the relationships between the parties involved (including other transactions that may be particularly favorable or advantageous to us).
Our Manager, which provides our executive officers and certain management and administrative services to us, may also enter into additional contractual arrangements with any of its affiliates on our behalf; however, there is no obligation of any affiliate of our Manager to enter into any contracts of this kind.
Common units are subject to our General Partner's limited call right.
Our General Partner may exercise its right to call and purchase common units as provided in the Partnership Agreement or assign this right to one of its affiliates or to us. Our General Partner may use its own discretion, free of fiduciary duty restrictions, in determining whether to exercise this right. Our General Partner is not obligated to obtain a fairness opinion regarding the value of the common units to be repurchased by it upon the exercise of this limited call right. As a result, a common unitholder may have common units purchased from the unitholder at an undesirable time or price.
We may choose not to retain separate counsel for ourselves or for the holders of common units.
The attorneys, independent accountants and others who perform services for us have been retained by our Board of Directors. Attorneys, independent accountants and others who perform services for us are selected by our Board of Directors or the Conflicts Committee and may perform services for our General Partner and its affiliates. We may retain separate counsel for ourselves or the holders of common units in the event of a conflict of interest between our General Partner and its affiliates, on the one hand, and us or the holders of common units, on the other, depending on the nature of the conflict. We do not intend to do so in most cases.
Tax Risks
In addition to the following risk factors, please see "Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation" for a more complete discussion of the material Marshall Islands and United States federal income tax consequences of owning and disposing of our common units.
We may be subject to taxes, which will reduce our cash available for distribution to our unitholders.
We and our subsidiaries may be subject to tax in the jurisdictions in which we are organized or operate, reducing the amount of cash available for distribution. In computing our tax obligation in these jurisdictions, we are required to take various tax accounting and reporting positions on matters that are not entirely free from doubt and for which we have not received rulings from the governing authorities. We cannot assure you that upon review of these positions the applicable authorities will agree with our positions. A successful challenge by a tax authority could result in additional tax imposed on us or our subsidiaries, further reducing the cash available for distribution. In addition, changes in our operations or ownership could result in additional tax being imposed on us or our subsidiaries in jurisdictions in which operations are conducted. Please see "Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation"
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We may have to pay tax on United States-source income, which would reduce our earnings and cash flow.
Under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, the United States source gross transportation income of a ship-owning or chartering corporation, such as ourselves, generally is subject to a 4% United States federal income tax, unless such corporation qualifies for exemption from tax under a tax treaty or Section 883 of the Code and the Treasury Regulations promulgated thereunder. U.S. source gross transportation income consists of 50% of the gross shipping income that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States.
Based on advice we received from Seward & Kissel LLP, our United States counsel, we believe we qualified for this statutory tax exemption for our taxable year ended December 31, 2019, and we intend to take this position for United States federal income tax reporting purposes. However, there are factual circumstances beyond our control that could cause us to lose the benefit of this tax exemption in future taxable years and thereby become subject to the 4% United States federal income tax described above.  It is noted that holders of our common units are limited to owning 4.9% of the voting power of such common units.  Assuming that such limitation is treated as effective for purposes of determining voting power under Section 883, then our 5% Unitholders could not own 50% of more of our common units.  If contrary to these expectations, our 5% Unitholders were to own 50% or more of the common units, we would not qualify for exemption under Section 883 unless we could establish that among the closely-held group of 5% Unitholders, there are sufficient 5% Unitholders that are qualified stockholders for purposes of Section 883 to preclude non-qualified 5% Unitholders in the closely-held group from owning 50% or more of our common units for more than half the number of days during the taxable year. In order to establish this, sufficient 5% Unitholders that are qualified stockholders would have to comply with certain documentation and certification requirements designed to substantiate their identity as qualified stockholders. These requirements are onerous and there can be no assurance that we would be able to satisfy them. The imposition of this taxation could have a negative effect on our business and would result in decreased earnings and cash available for distribution payments to our unitholders. For a more detailed discussion, see "Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation."
United States tax authorities could treat us as a "passive foreign investment company," which would have adverse United States federal income tax consequences to United States unitholders.
A non-U.S. entity treated as a corporation for United States federal income tax purposes will be treated as a "passive foreign investment company" (or PFIC) for U.S. federal income tax purposes if at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of "passive income" or at least 50% of the average value of its assets produce, or are held for the production of, "passive income." For purposes of these tests, "passive income" includes dividends, interest, gains from the sale or exchange of investment property, and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties that are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. For purposes of these tests, income derived from the performance of services does not constitute "passive income." U.S. shareholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous United States federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC, and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their interests in the PFIC. Based on our current and projected method of operation, and on an opinion of our United States counsel, Seward & Kissel LLP, we believe that we were not a PFIC in the year ended December 31, 2019 and do not expect to be a PFIC for any future taxable year. We have received an opinion of our United States counsel in support of this position that concludes that the income our subsidiaries earned from certain of our time-chartering activities should not constitute passive income for purposes of determining whether we are a PFIC. In addition, we have represented to our United States counsel that we expect that more than 25% of our gross income for the year ended December 31, 2019 and each future year will arise from such time-chartering activities or other income which does not constitute passive income, and more than 50% of the average value of our assets for each such year will be held for the production of such non passive income. Assuming the composition of our income and assets is consistent with these expectations, and assuming the accuracy of other representations we have made to our United States counsel for purposes of their opinion, our United States counsel is of the opinion that we should not be a PFIC for the year ended December 31, 2019 year or any future year. This opinion is based and its accuracy is conditioned on representations, valuations and projections provided by us regarding our assets, income and charters to our United States counsel. While we believe these representations, valuations and projections to be accurate, the shipping market is volatile and no assurance can be given that they will continue to be accurate at any time in the future.
While Seward & Kissel LLP, our United States counsel, has provided us with an opinion in support of our position, the conclusions reached are not free from doubt, and it is possible that the United States Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, or a court could disagree with this position. In addition, although we intend to conduct our affairs in a manner to avoid being classified as a PFIC with respect to each taxable year, we cannot assure you that the nature of our operations will not change in the future and that we will not become a PFIC in any taxable year. If the IRS were to find that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year (and regardless of whether we remain a PFIC for subsequent taxable years), our U.S. unitholders would face adverse United States federal income tax consequences.  See "Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation" for a more detailed discussion of the United States federal income tax consequences to United States unitholders if we are treated as a PFIC.
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ITEM 4. INFORMATION ON THE PARTNERSHIP
A.
HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE PARTNERSHIP
Dynagas LNG Partners LP was organized as a limited partnership in the Republic of the Marshall Islands on May 30, 2013 for the purpose of owning, operating, and acquiring LNG carriers and other business activities incidental thereto.  In October 2013, we acquired from our Sponsor three LNG carriers, the Clean Energy, the Ob River and the Amur River (formerly named the Clean Force), which we refer to as our Initial Fleet. In November 2013, we completed our underwritten IPO pursuant to which, the Partnership offered and sold 8,250,000 common units to the public at $18.00 per common unit, and in connection with the closing of the IPO, the Partnership's Sponsor, Dynagas Holding Ltd., a company beneficially wholly owned by Mr. Georgios Prokopiou, the Partnership's Chairman and major unitholder and certain of his close family members, offered and sold 4,250,000 common units to the public at $18.00 per common unit.  In connection with the IPO, the Partnership entered into certain agreements including: (a) an omnibus agreement with the Sponsor, which provided the Partnership the right to purchase certain identified liquefied natural gas ("LNG") carrier vessels at a purchase price to be determined pursuant to the terms and conditions contained therein and, (b) a $30 million Revolving Credit Facility with the Sponsor to be used for general Partnership purposes.
Pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement, which has been amended since the IPO, that we, and certain of our subsidiaries, have entered into with our Sponsor and our General Partner, we have the right (but not the obligation), subject to certain conditions, to acquire from our Sponsor the Optional Vessels.
As of the date of this Annual Report, we have outstanding 35,490,000 common units, 35,526 general partner units, 3,000,000 9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units, or the Series A Preferred Units and 2,200,000 Series B Fixed to Floating Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Units or the Series B Preferred Units. Our Sponsor currently beneficially owns approximately 44.0% of the equity interests in the Partnership (excluding the Series A Preferred Units and the Series B Preferred Units) and 100% of our General Partner, which owns a 0.1% General Partner interest in the Partnership and 100% of our incentive distribution rights. Our Sponsor does not own any Series A Preferred Units or Series B Preferred Units. On October 30, 2019, we redeemed the entire outstanding balance of our 6.25% Senior Unsecured Notes due 2019, or our 2019 Notes, of $250 million aggregate principal amount using proceeds from the $675 Million Credit Facility (as described below) together with cash on hand. Our common units, our Series A Preferred Units and our Series B Preferred Units trade on the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, under the symbols "DLNG", "DLNG PR A" and "DLNG PR B", respectively.
. Our principal executive offices are located at Poseidonos Avenue and Foivis 2 Street 166 74 Glyfada, Athens, Greece. Our website is www.dynagaspartners.com. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. The address of the SEC's internet site is www.sec.gov. None of the information contained on these websites is incorporated into or forms a part of this annual report. For more information, please see "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Our Borrowing Activities."
Vessel Acquisitions
Following our IPO we expanded our Initial Fleet and in 2014 and 2015 we acquired the Arctic Aurora, the Yenisei River and the Lena River, each a 2013-built ice class liquefied natural gas carrier, and the related time charter contracts, from our Sponsor, pursuant to our right to acquire such vessels under the Omnibus Agreement in effect at that time.
Debt Financing
On September 18, 2019, we entered into the $675 Million Credit Facility for the purpose of refinancing the Partnership's existing total indebtedness under the $480.0 Million Term Loan B, or the Term Loan B, and the 2019 Notes. All amounts under the $675 Million Credit Facility were drawn on September 25, 2019, utilizing $470.4 million to repay the Partnership's outstanding principal of its Term Loan B. The remaining amounts drawn together with cash on hand were utilized to repay the $250 million aggregate principal amount of the 2019 Notes at their maturity on October 30, 2019. Please see – "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects – B.  Liquidity and Capital Resources - $675 Million Credit Facility."
B.
BUSINESS OVERVIEW
 Since our IPO in November 2013 we have been a growth-oriented limited partnership focused on owning and operating LNG carriers growing our fleet from three vessels at the time of our IPO to six vessels at the end of 2015.  However, as a result of the significant challenges facing the listed midstream energy MLP industry, our cost of equity capital remained elevated for a prolonged period, making the funding of new acquisitions challenging.   While our rights under the Omnibus Agreement to acquire the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor provide us with significant built-in growth opportunities, the decline in the price of our common units makes the current price levels not conducive to the funding such acquisitions with equity at this time. All of the vessels in our Fleet are currently contracted on time charters with international energy companies, including Gazprom, Equinor and Yamal, which we expect to provide us with the benefits of fixed-fee contracts, predictable cash flows and high utilization rates.
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We are currently focusing our capital allocation on debt repayment, prioritizing balance sheet strength, in order to reposition the Partnership for potential future growth if our cost of capital allows us to access debt and equity capital on acceptable terms.  As a result, if we are able to raise new debt or equity capital on terms acceptable to the Partnership in the future, we intend to leverage the reputation, expertise and relationships with our charterers, our Sponsor and our Manager in growing our core business and potentially pursuing further business and growth opportunities in transportation of energy or other energy-related projects including floating storage regassification units, LNG infrastructure projects, maintaining cost-efficient operations and providing reliable seaborne transportation services to our current and prospective charterers. In addition, as opportunities arise, we may acquire additional vessels from our Sponsor and from third-parties and/or engage in investment opportunities incidental to the LNG or energy industry. In connection with such plans for growth, we may enter into additional financing arrangements, refinance existing arrangements or arrangements that our Sponsor, its affiliates, or such third party sellers may have in place for vessels and businesses that we may acquire, and, subject to favorable market conditions, we may raise capital in the public or private markets, including through incurring additional debt, debt or equity offerings of our securities or in other transactions. However, we cannot assure you that we will grow or maintain the size of our Fleet or that we will continue to pay the per unit distributions in the amounts that we have paid in the past or at all or that we will be able to execute our plans for growth. For further information on the risks associated with our business, please see "Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors".
Our Fleet
As of April 16, 2020, we owned and operated a fleet of six LNG carriers, consisting of the three modern steam turbine LNG carriers in our Initial Fleet, the Clean Energy, the Ob River and the Amur River (formerly named the Clean Force), and three modern tri-fuel diesel electric (TFDE) propulsion technology Ice Class LNG carriers that we additionally acquired from our Sponsor the Arctic Aurora, the Yenisei River, and the Lena River, which we collectively refer to as our "Fleet." As of April 16, 2020, the vessels in our Fleet had an average age of 9.7 years and are contracted under multi-year charters with an average remaining charter term of approximately 8.5 years. All of the vessels in our Fleet vessels are currently employed or are contracted to be employed on multi-year time charters with international energy companies such as Gazprom, Equinor and Yamal.
Since the end of the first fiscal year following our IPO, which occurred in November 2013 and as of the date of this Annual Report, we have increased the total capacity of the vessels in our Fleet by approximately 104% and as of the date of this Annual Report, the estimated contracted revenue backlog of our Fleet was approximately $1.23 billion, $0.17 billion of which is a variable hire element contained in certain time charter contracts with Yamal. The variable hire rate on these time charter contracts with Yamal is calculated based on two components—a capital cost component and an operating cost component. The capital cost component is a fixed daily amount. The daily amount of the operating cost component, which is intended to pass the operating costs of the vessel to the charterer in their entirety including dry-docking costs, is set annually and adjusted at the end of each year to compensate us for the actual costs we incur in operating the vessel. Dry-docking expenses are budgeted in advance within the year of the dry-dock and are reimbursed by Yamal immediately following the dry-dock. The actual amount of revenues earned in respect of such operating cost component of such variable hire rate may therefore differ from the amounts included in the revenue backlog estimate due to the annual variations in the respective vessels' operating costs. The average remaining contract duration is approximately 8.5 years. The estimated contracted revenue backlog of our Fleet excludes options to extend and assumes full utilization for the full term of the charter. The actual amount of revenues earned and the actual periods during which revenues are earned may differ from the amounts and periods described above due to, for example, off-hire for maintenance projects, downtime, scheduled or unscheduled dry-docking, cancellation or early termination of vessel employment agreements, and other factors that may result in lower revenues than our average contract backlog per day.  Our Fleet is managed by our Manager, Dynagas Ltd., a company controlled by Mr. Georgios Prokopiou. See "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions."
All of the vessels in our Fleet other than the Clean Energy have been assigned with Lloyds Register Ice Class notation 1A FS, or Ice Class, equivalent to ARC4 of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping Rules, designation for hull and machinery and are fully winterized, which means that they are designed to call at ice-bound and harsh environment terminals and to withstand temperatures up to minus 30 degrees Celsius. According to Drewry, as of March 2020, only 31 LNG carriers, representing 5.5% of the LNG vessels in the global LNG fleet, have an Ice Class 1A and Ice-class 1A super designation or equivalent rating. Moreover, in 2012, we were the first company in the world to operate LNG carriers on the Northern Sea Route, which is a shipping lane from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean entirely in Arctic waters, and continue to be one of a limited number of vessel operators to currently do so. In addition, we believe that each of the vessels in our Fleet is optimally sized with a carrying capacity of between approximately 150,000 and 155,000 cbm, which allows us to maximize operational flexibility as such medium-to-large size LNG vessels are compatible with most existing LNG terminals around the world. We believe that these specifications enhance our trading capabilities and future employment opportunities because they provide greater diversity in the trading routes available to our charterers
We believe that the key characteristics of each of the vessels in our Fleet include the following:

optimal sizing with a carrying capacity of between approximately 150,000 and 155,000 cbm (which is a medium- to large-size class of LNG carrier) that maximizes operational flexibility as such vessel is compatible with most existing LNG terminals around the world;
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the vessels in our Fleet consist of two series of sister vessels, which are vessels built at the same shipyard, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., that share (i) a near-identical hull and superstructure layout, (ii) similar displacement, and (iii) roughly comparable features and equipment;

utilization of a membrane containment system that uses insulation built directly into the hull of the vessel with a membrane covering inside the tanks designed to maintain integrity and that uses the vessel's hull to directly support the pressure of the LNG cargo, which we refer to as a "membrane containment system" (see "—The International Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Shipping Industry—The LNG Fleet" for a description of the types of LNG containment systems); and

double-hull construction, based on the current LNG shipping industry standard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
According to Drewry, as of March 31, 2020, there were only 52 LNG carriers in the worldwide LNG trading fleet, including the six vessels in our Fleet, in the size range of 149,000-155,000 cbm, of which 45 have membrane cargo containment system. There are no LNG carriers in the same size segment in the order book, which has a moss spherical containment system, a well-established spherical containment system designed in Norway which has been in use for many years.The following table sets forth additional information about our Fleet as of the date of this Annual Report:
Vessel Name
Year
Built
Cargo Capacity
(cbm)
Ice
Class
Propulsion
Charterer
Earliest Charter
Expiration
Latest Charter
Expiration
Latest Charter
Expiration including options to extend
Clean Energy
2007
149,700
No
Steam
Gazprom
March 2026
April 2026
n/a
Ob River
2007
149,700
Yes
Steam
Gazprom
March 2028
May 2028
n/a
Amur River
2008
149,700
Yes
Steam
Gazprom
June 2028
July 2028
n/a
Arctic Aurora
2013
155,000
Yes
TFDE *
Equinor
July 2021
September 2021(1)
September 2023(1)
Yenisei River
2013
155,000
Yes
TFDE *
Yamal
Q4 2033
Q2 2034
Q2 2049(2)
Lena River
2013
155,000
Yes
TFDE *
Yamal
Q2 2034
Q3 2034
Q4 2049(3)

*
As used in this Annual Report, "TFDE" refers to tri-fuel diesel electric propulsion system.
(1)
On August 2, 2018, the Arctic Aurora was delivered to Equinor under a time charter contact with an initial term of three years +/- 30 days. This charter is in direct continuation of the vessel's previous charter with Equinor, which means that this new charter commenced immediately following the prior charter. Equinor will have the option to extend the charter term by two consecutive 12-month periods at escalated rates.
(2)
On August 14, 2018, the Yenisei River was delivered early to Yamal immediately upon completion of its mandatory statutory class five-year special survey and dry-docking, pursuant to an addendum to the charter party with Yamal under which we agreed to extend the firm charter period from 15 years to 15 years plus 180 days. The charter contract for the Yenisei River with Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project has an initial term of 15.5 years, which may be extended at Charterers' option by three consecutive periods of five years.
(3)
On July 1, 2019, the Lena River commenced employment under its long term charter with Yamal. The charter contract for the Lena River with Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project has an initial term of 15 years, which may be extended at Charterers' option by three consecutive periods of five years..
The Optional Vessels
In connection with the closing of our IPO, we entered in an Omnibus Agreement with our Sponsor and our General Partner that initially provided us with the right to acquire from our Sponsor the Initial Optional Vessels, of which we acquired the Arctic Aurora , the Yenisei River and the Lena River . The purchase options for the remaining four Initial Optional Vessels expired unexercised.
Following an amendment and restatement of the Omnibus Agreement in April 2016, we were also provided the right to acquire from our Sponsor (for a certain period of time) its interest in joint venture with Sinotrans and China LNG Shipping, which is a 49% ownership interest in each of the five entities that each owns a 172,000 cubic meter ARC7 LNG carrier and the related debt, employment and other agreements, subject to the terms and conditions of the Omnibus Agreement, as amended.  Sinotrans and China LNG Shipping equally split the remaining 51.0% ownership interest of each of the vessel owning entities. All five vessels referenced above have been delivered to the joint venture and are currently employed under long-term charters for the Yamal LNG Project. Our options to purchase the Sponsor's interests in the first two vessels and the related agreements have expired unexercised. We refer to our Sponsor's interests in the remaining three vessels and the related agreements, as the Optional Vessels. Our Manager provides vessel management services for the Optional Vessels.
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For additional information, please see "—Rights to Purchase Optional Vessels" and "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions."
Specifications of the vessels that comprise the Optional Vessels
The three 172,000 cubic meter ARC7 vessels are or will be capable of all year round operation at temperatures up to negative fifty degrees Celsius. High Ice Class Arc 7 allows them to navigate independently in ice of up to 2.1 meters thick. These vessels are equipped with three Azipod propulsion units of 45 megawatt joint capability, which is comparable to the capability of a nuclear icebreaker.
The following table provides certain information about these vessels as of the date of this Annual Report.
Vessel Name
Shipyard(2)
 
Delivery
Date
   
Cargo Capacity
Cbm
Ice
Class
 
Charter
Commencement
 
Charterer
 
Earliest
Charter
Expiration
Optional Vessels*:
                           
Georgiy Brusilov(1)
DSME
   
12/10/2018
     
172,410
Yes
   
Q4-2018
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
Boris Davydov(1)
DSME
   
01/18/2019
     
172,410
Yes
   
Q1-2019
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
Nikolay Zubov(1)
DSME
   
02/22/2019
     
172,410
Yes
   
Q1-2019
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045

*
Our Sponsor directly or indirectly owns a 49.0% interest in these vessels.
(1)
Vessel operates under a fixed rate time charter contract for the Yamal LNG Project until December 31, 2045, plus two consecutive five-year extension options.
(2)
As used in this Annual Report, "DSME" refers to the shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.
Rights to Purchase the Optional Vessels
As discussed above, under the Omnibus Agreement we have the right, subject to certain conditions, to purchase from our Sponsor, the Optional Vessels at a purchase price to be determined pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Omnibus Agreement.
Our rights to purchase each Optional Vessel expire 24 months following the delivery of the applicable vessel (listed in the table above) to Yamal under its time charter contracts set forth in the Omnibus Agreement. We may also mutually agree with our Sponsor, with the approval of our Conflicts Committee, to extend or further extend, as applicable, the purchase option exercise period, but there can be no assurances that our Sponsor will grant such extensions.
If we are unable to agree with our Sponsor on the purchase price of the Optional Vessels, as the case may be, the respective purchase price will be determined by an independent appraiser, such as an investment banking firm, broker or firm generally recognized in the shipping industry as qualified to perform the tasks for which such firm has been engaged, and we will have the right, but not the obligation, to purchase such assets at such price. The independent appraiser will be mutually appointed by our Sponsor and our Conflicts Committee. See "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions" for information on how the purchase price is calculated.
The purchase price of the Optional Vessels, as finally determined by an independent appraiser, may be an amount that is greater than what we are able or willing to pay or we may be unwilling to proceed to purchase such vessel if such acquisition would not be in our best interests. We will not be obliged to purchase the Optional Vessels at the determined price, and, accordingly, we may not complete the purchase of such vessels, which may have an adverse effect on our expected plans for growth. In addition, our ability to purchase the Optional Vessels, should we exercise our right to purchase such vessels, is dependent on our ability to obtain additional financing to fund all or a portion of the acquisition costs of these assets.
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Our Sponsor, together with its joint venture partners, has secured financing relating to the Optional Vessels.  In the event we acquire any or all of such Optional Vessels in the future, we expect to enter into agreements with our Sponsor whereby in addition to acquiring such Optional Vessels and we would expect to also guarantee the existing debt obligations secured by vessel or vessels comprising the Optional Vessels subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions. Any such arrangement would be subject to each respective lender's consent.  We may also seek to enter into new financing arrangements. As of the date of this Annual Report, we have not secured any financing in connection with the potential acquisition of any of the Optional Vessels. Please see "Risk Factors—Our Sponsor may be unable to service its debt requirements and comply with the provisions contained in the credit agreements secured by the Optional Vessels. If our Sponsor fails to perform its obligations under these debt agreements or any other agreement relating to the Optional Vessels, our business and plans for growth through the acquisition of Optional Vessels may be materially affected."
Our Chartering Strategy and Charterers
We seek to employ our vessels on multi-year time charters with international energy companies that provide us with the benefits of stable cash flows and high utilization rates. We charter our vessels for a fixed period of time at daily rates that are generally fixed, but which could contain a variable component to adjust for, among other things, inflation and/or to offset the effects of increases in operating expenses.
The Arctic Aurora is currently employed on a three-year charter party with Equinor that has a firm period of about 3 years +/- 30 days and expires in the third quarter of 2021. Equinor has the option to extend the charter term by two consecutive 12-month periods at escalated rates.
The Amur River is employed under a 13-year charter party with Gazprom that expires in 2028.
The Ob River is employed under a ten-year charter party with Gazprom that expires in 2028.
The Clean Energy is employed under an eight-year charter party with Gazprom that expires in 2026.
On August 14, 2018, immediately upon completion of its mandatory statutory class five-year special survey and dry-docking, the Yenisei River was delivered earlier than anticipated under its multi-year charter contract with Yamal for the Yamal LNG project. As a result, we agreed with Yamal to extend the firm charter period from 15 years to 15 years plus 180 days. The initial term of the charter may be extended at Charterers' option by three consecutive periods of five years.
On July 1, 2019, the Lena River commenced employment under its multi-year time charter contract with Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project, with an initial term of 15 years, which may each be extended at Charterers' option by three consecutive periods of five years.
Based on the charter contracts described in the preceding paragraphs and the minimum expected number of days committed under those contracts (excluding options to extend), as of April 16, 2020 we had estimated contracted revenue backlog of approximately $1.23 billion, $0.17 billion of which relates to the operating expenses and estimated portion of the hire contained in certain time charter contracts with Yamal, subject to yearly adjustments on the basis of the actual operating costs incurred within each year. The actual amount of revenues earned in respect of such variable hire rate may therefore differ from the amounts included in the revenue backlog estimate due to the yearly variations in the respective vessels' operating costs, notwithstanding our current estimated contracted backlog. The average remaining contract duration is approximately 8.5 years.
We may not be able to perform under these contracts due to events within or beyond our control, and our counterparty may seek to cancel or renegotiate our contracts for various reasons.  Our inability or the inability of our counterparty, to perform under the respective contractual obligations may affect our ability to realize the estimated contractual backlog listed above and may have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows and our ability to realize the contracted revenues under these agreements. Our estimated contract backlog may be adversely affected if the Yamal LNG Project for which certain of our vessels are contracted to be employed is abandoned or underutilized due to changes in the demand for LNG.
For information on our customer concentration, please see "Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk—Concentration of Credit Risk."
The International Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Shipping Industry
All the information and data presented in this section, including the analysis of the various sectors of the international liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping industry has been provided by Drewry Shipping Consultants, Ltd., or Drewry, an independent consulting and research company. Drewry has advised that the statistical and graphical information contained herein is drawn from its database and other sources. In connection therewith, Drewry has advised that: (a) certain information in Drewry's database is derived from estimates or subjective judgments; (b) the information in the databases of other maritime data collection agencies may differ from the information in Drewry's database; and (c) while Drewry has taken reasonable care in the compilation of the statistical and graphical information herein and believes it to be accurate and correct, data compilation is subject to limited audit and validation procedures.
46


Overview of Natural Gas Market
Natural gas is one of the key sources of global energy, including oil, coal, hydroelectricity, solar, wind, and nuclear power. In the last three decades, demand for natural gas has grown faster than the demand for any other fossil fuel. Since the early 1970s, natural gas' share of the total global primary energy consumption has risen from 18.1% in 1970 to 24.3% in 2019.
Natural Gas Share of Primary Energy Consumption: 1970-20191
(% – Based On Million Tons Oil Equivalent)
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: BP Statistical Review, Shell LNG outlook, Drewry
Natural gas has a number of advantages that make it a competitive source of energy in the future. Apart from being abundant in supply, natural gas is the lowest carbon-intensive fossil fuel and least affected by the various regulatory policies aimed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, consumption of natural gas has risen steadily due to global economic growth, increasing energy demand, consumers' desires to diversify energy sources, market deregulation, competitive pricing, and recognition that natural gas is a cleaner energy source compared to coal and oil. The level of carbon dioxide emissions and pollutants from natural gas in power generation are 50 to 60 percent lower than the level of carbon dioxide emissions and pollutants from coal-fired power plants. Natural gas emits 15 to 20 percent less heat-trapping gases than gasoline/gas oil when burned in typical automobile engines.
Natural gas is primarily used for power generation and heating. According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy - June 2019, worldwide natural gas reserves are estimated at 196.9 trillion cubic meters (cbm), which is enough for nearly 51 years of supply at current rates of consumption. Over the past decade, natural gas consumption has risen 3.0% per annum, with growth of 5.2% per annum in the Middle East, followed by 5.4% per annum in Asia-Pacific and 4.9% per annum in Africa.
In the last decade, a large part of the growth in natural gas consumption has been accounted for by Asia-Pacific and the Middle East regions, where gas consumption has increased nearly 1.7 times between 2009 and 2019.
World Natural Gas Consumption: 1970-20191
(Million Tons Oil Equivalent)
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: BP Statistical Review, Drewry
47


The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that global natural gas reserves are large enough to accommodate rapid expansion of natural gas demand for several decades to come. Although natural gas reserves and production are widespread, the geographical disparity between areas of production and areas of consumption has been the principal stimulus of international trade in natural gas.

World Natural Gas Production: 1970-20191
(Million Tons Oil Equivalent)
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: BP Statistical Review, Drewry
Natural gas production in North America has increased due to the emergence of new techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, to access and extract the shale gas reserves. United States (U.S.) domestic gas production has exceeded domestic gas consumption for a large part of the year, which may reduce future gas import rates. Additionally, rising U.S. domestic production may drive down domestic gas prices and raise the likelihood of U.S. gas exports.
As a result of these developments, the North American gas market is moving in a different cycle from that of the rest of the world, and there is a price differential with other markets as indicated in the chart below. Regional price differentials create the opportunity for arbitrage and also act as a catalyst for the construction of new productive capacity. Given these conditions, the interest in exporting LNG from the US has grown and a number of new liquefaction plants are now planned. However, this price differential has reduced substantially since 2014 due to a sharp drop in LNG prices in the international market which has led to delay in some new planned facilities. In the latter part of 2018, the price of natural gas in key Asian market such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan increased due to firm winter demand, whereas LNG prices in China softened in December 2018 due to high cargo availability and low demand. While high restocking activity in the third quarter of 2018 kept China's winter LNG imports stable, LNG prices failed to improve despite increased seasonal consumption. In 2019, LNG prices declined on account of high inventory in Europe and Asia, mild winter across the northern hemisphere, and slowing momentum of China's LNG demand. China's LNG demand faltered in 2019 due to lower economic growth and slower pace of the switch from coal to LNG.

Natural Gas Prices: 2007-2019
(US $ per MMBtu)
Source: GTIS, Drewry

48


The LNG Market
To turn natural gas into the liquefied form, natural gas must be super cooled to a temperature of approximately minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit. This process reduces the gas to approximately 1/600th of its original volume in the gaseous state. Reducing the volume enables economical storage and transportation by ship over long distances. LNG is transported through sea in specially built tanks on double-hulled ships to a receiving terminal, where it is unloaded and stored in heavily insulated tanks. The LNG is then returned to its gaseous state, or regasified, in regasification facilities at the receiving terminal. Finally, the regasified LNG is moved through pipeline for distribution to natural gas customers.
Source: Drewry
LNG Supply
Globally, 111.2 million tons of new LNG production capacity is under construction, 177.2 million tons of new LNG production capacity is planned, and 195.5 million tons of speculative LNG production capacity is under consideration, for which no confirmed plans exist.
World LNG Production Capacity – April 2020
(Million Tons per Annum)
Source: Drewry
As such, LNG production capacity will expand significantly as several new production facilities are now under construction and due on stream in the next few years. Generally, every additional one million ton of LNG productive capacity creates demand for up to two standard modern LNG tankers.
In the last decade, more countries entered the LNG export market. In December 2019, there were 20 producers and exporters of LNG compared with just 15 in 2007. As a result, world trade in LNG has risen from 165.3 million tons in 2007 to an estimated 349 million tons in 2019.
49


LNG Exports: 2007-20191
(Million Tons)
Exporters
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019E
% Change 18-19
Algeria
18.0
15.5
15.3
14.1
12.5
10.5
10.9
12.6
11.8
11.6
12.3
12.0
8.5
-29.2%
USA #
0.9
0.7
0.6
1.2
1.5
0.5
0.1
0.3
0.6
3.2
12.2
18.5
34.5
86.5%
Liberia
0.6
0.4
0.5
0.0
0.1
-
-
-
-
-
-
 
0.0
-
Brunei
6.8
6.7
6.4
6.4
6.9
6.6
6.9
6.0
6.4
6.0
6.9
6.8
6.5
-4.4%
UAE
5.5
5.5
5.1
5.8
5.8
5.5
5.4
5.8
5.6
5.4
5.6
5.8
5.4
-6.9%
Indonesia
20.3
19.6
19.0
22.9
21.3
17.5
16.4
15.8
16.0
15.5
18.7
18.0
16.5
-8.3%
Malaysia
21.7
21.8
21.6
22.3
24.3
23.2
24.7
24.8
24.9
23.4
26.9
24.3
25.6
5.3%
Australia
14.8
14.8
17.7
18.5
18.9
20.5
22.1
23.1
29.0
41.5
55.6
67.8
80.5
18.7%
Qatar
28.1
29.0
36.1
55.3
74.9
76.7
77.0
75.5
77.6
76.2
77.5
78.0
75.5
-3.2%
Trinidad and Tobago
13.2
13.0
14.4
15.1
13.8
13.7
14.4
14.1
12.4
10.4
10.2
10.1
10.1
0.0%
Nigeria
15.4
15.3
11.7
17.4
18.9
19.9
16.3
18.5
20.1
17.3
20.3
20.0
18.9
-5.5%
Oman
8.9
8.0
8.4
8.4
8.0
8.2
8.4
7.8
7.4
7.8
8.2
8.0
8.8
9.9%
Egypt
9.9
9.9
9.4
7.1
6.3
4.9
2.7
0.3
-
0.5
0.8
0.8
1.6
100.0%
Equatorial Guinea
1.0
4.1
3.4
3.8
3.8
3.5
3.7
3.7
3.6
3.2
3.9
3.8
3.8
0.0%
Norway
0.1
1.6
2.3
3.4
2.9
3.3
2.8
3.9
4.4
4.6
3.9
3.9
3.9
0.0%
Russia
-
-
4.8
9.8
10.5
10.8
10.4
10.6
10.6
10.2
11.5
16.2
21.4
32.1%
Yemen
-
-
0.3
4.0
6.5
5.2
7.0
6.5
1.4
-
-
 
0.0
-
Peru
-
-
-
1.3
3.7
3.9
4.1
4.2
3.6
4.0
3.7
3.8
3.6
-4.7%
France
                 
1.1
1.1
1.0
1.0
0.0%
Belgium #
-
-
0.2
0.4
0.4
0.3
1.1
1.1
0.9
-
0.0
0.0
0.0
-
Spain #
-
-
-
-
0.5
1.2
2.1
3.8
2.3
0.1
0.0
0.0
0.0
-
Papua New Guinea
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3.4
7.1
7.6
8.1
8.0
8.2
1.9%
Others##
-
-
-
-
-
0.7
0.9
1.5
1.4
3.2
3.2
6.2
14.7
137.1%
Total
165.3
165.6
177.2
217.3
241.5
236.9
237.5
243.3
247.4
253.0
290.7
313.0
349.0
11.5%
# Include re-exports
## Includes re-exports from Brazil, France, Portugal, South Korea, Japan and Greece
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: BP statistical review, Drewry
Historically, LNG exporters were located in just three regions: Algeria and Libya in North Africa; Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Australia in Southeast Asia/Australasia; and Abu Dhabi and Qatar in the Middle East (excluding small-scale LNG exports from Alaska). However, the entries of Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria, and Norway have added a significant regional diversification to LNG exports in the Atlantic basin. In addition, the entry of Oman as an exporter and the rapid expansion of Qatar's production have also positioned the Middle East as an increasingly significant player in the global LNG business. Australia surpassed Qatar as the largest LNG producer and exporter in 2019. Australia's LNG exports constituted 23.1% of the global LNG exports in 2019. Qatar is now the world's second largest producer and exporter of LNG, accounting for close to 21.6% of the global LNG export in 2019.
50



U.S. LNG exports have ramped up significantly in the last two years, increasing from 3.2 million tons in 2016 to 34.5 million tons in 2019. The country's LNG exports have mainly benefited from the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, launched in 2016, with four trains becoming operational at the end of January 2018. In 2019, major U.S. liquefaction projects to come on-stream include Sabine Pass, Dominion Energy Cove Point, Cameron LNG, Freeport LNG, Cheniere's Corpus Christi terminal second train, and five of 10 small trains of Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Elba Island facility. Currently, 11 LNG export terminals are being built in the US, with an aggregate export capacity of 50.6 million tons per annum.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Russia started the first phase of the Yamal LNG project and commenced its first phase of production with a nameplate capacity of 5.5 million tons. The second and third train of the project came online in July 2018 and November 2018 respectively. The third train of the project commenced operations a year ahead of schedule and the project has added an aggregate capacity of 16.5 million tons to the global LNG production. In 2019, Russia added 0.7 mtpa of capacity and the country's LNG exports surged 32.1 percent to 21.4 million tons with Yamal LNG project ramping up to full capacity.
LNG Demand
In tandem with the growth in the number of LNG suppliers, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of importers. In 2007, there were 17 countries importing LNG and by December 2019, the number increased to 42.
LNG imports by country between 2006 and 2019 are shown in the table below. Despite an increase in the number of importers, Japan, South Korea, and China provide the backbone of LNG trade, collectively accounting for 51% of the total LNG imports as of the end of 2019. China's LNG imports surged in 2017 and surpassed South Korea's to become the second biggest LNG importing nation. There has also been strong growth of LNG imports by India, Taiwan and Spain due to increasing demand from the power sector in those countries and their respective government's focus on the use of natural gas as a source of energy to reduce air pollution caused by conventional sources of energy.
China's LNG imports commenced in 2006 and have since grown exponentially from 0.7 million tons in 2006 to 61.9 million tons in 2019. The country's LNG imports expanded by a whopping 41% year on year in 2018 as it took steps to shift from coal to natural gas for heating households during the winter because of the government's policy to increase the share of natural gas in the overall energy demand. After showing strong growth momentum in 2017 and 2018, China's LNG imports growth rate slowed down in 2019, growing 14.8% year over year to 61.9 million tons. China's switch from coal to gas has slowed down with the slowing GDP growth and milder-than-expected winter which impacted its LNG demand in 2019.
China's coal to natural gas switch is driven by the country's intent to reduce pollution. China's 13th Five-Year Plan aims to reduce the share of coal in China's overall energy demand – from 64% in 2015 to 58% in 2020 – while increasing the use of gas from 6% to 10% during the same period. China's increased emphasis on LNG as a source of energy is the result of its capital, Beijing's, aim to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions, per unit of GDP, by 60-65 percent between 2005 and 2030.
51


LNG Imports by Country 2007-20191
(Million Tons)
Importer
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Argentina
-
0.3
0.7
1.3
3.2
3.4
4.7
4.8
4.3
3.8
3.4
3.0
1.8
Belgium
2.3
2.1
4.8
4.7
4.8
3.1
1.6
2.1
2.8
2.1
0.9
1.6
4.0
Brazil
-
-
0.3
2.0
0.8
2.5
4.1
5.8
5.2
2.2
1.6
2.0
3.0
Canada
-
-
0.7
1.5
2.4
1.3
0.8
0.6
0.5
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.2
Chile
-
-
0.5
2.2
2.8
3.0
3.0
2.8
3.1
3.1
3.3
3.6
2.4
China
2.8
3.2
5.6
9.3
12.1
14.6
18.3
19.8
19.1
26.2
38.2
53.9
61.9
Dom. Rep.
0.3
0.3
0.4
0.6
0.7
0.9
1.2
0.9
1.3
1.3
0.9
1.2
1.4
Egypt
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
2.8
0.6
6.2
2.5
0.0
France
9.5
9.2
9.5
10.2
10.6
7.5
6.4
5.4
4.8
7.0
7.4
7.8
16.0
Greece
0.6
0.7
0.5
0.9
0.9
0.7
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.0
1.3
1.5
1.5
India
7.3
7.9
9.2
8.9
12.5
15.0
12.8
13.8
15.9
16.5
18.7
22.3
23.4
Indonesia
-
-
-
-
-
0.7
1.0
1.6
2.0
2.0
2.6
2.0
0.0
Israel
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.4
0.3
0.4
0.0
0.5
0.0
0.0
Italy
1.8
1.1
2.1
6.6
6.4
5.2
3.7
3.5
4.3
4.1
6.0
5.6
9.5
Japan
64.8
67.3
62.7
68.2
78.1
86.7
87.0
88.0
86.2
83.3
83.6
82.9
77.1
Jordan
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
2.9
3.3
3.3
3.0
1.6
Kuwait
-
-
0.7
2.0
2.3
2.0
1.6
2.7
2.7
2.7
3.5
3.0
3.0
Lithuania
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.1
0.4
0.0
0.9
0.0
0.0
Malaysia
-
-
-
-
-
0.1
1.5
1.7
1.6
1.2
1.8
1.1
2.5
Mexico
1.6
2.6
2.6
4.2
3.0
3.5
5.7
6.8
5.2
4.3
4.8
4.2
7.0
Netherlands
-
-
-
-
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.4
0.4
1.1
0.8
1.0
1.3
Pakistan
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1.1
2.9
4.6
6.0
6.6
Portugal
1.7
1.9
2.1
2.2
2.2
1.5
1.8
1.2
0.7
0.7
2.7
1.2
1.5
Puerto Rico
0.5
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.5
1.0
1.3
1.3
1.2
0.9
0.9
1.0
1.2
South Korea
25.1
26.7
25.1
32.4
36.0
35.9
39.6
37.3
31.9
32.1
37.8
44.0
40.7
Spain
17.7
21.0
19.7
20.1
17.6
14.7
10.9
11.5
9.5
9.6
12.1
10.0
16.1
Singapore
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.9
1.9
2.2
2.2
3.0
3.2
3.7
Taiwan
8.0
8.8
8.6
10.9
11.9
11.7
12.6
13.2
13.7
14.2
16.6
16.7
18.2
Thailand
-
-
-
-
0.7
1.0
1.5
1.4
2.6
3.1
3.8
4.4
5.1
Turkey
4.4
3.9
4.2
5.8
4.5
5.7
4.0
5.3
5.5
5.6
7.3
7.1
7.5
UAE
-
-
-
0.1
1.0
1.0
1.1
1.3
1.6
1.5
2.5
2.8
3.2
UK
1.1
0.8
7.5
13.6
18.5
10.0
6.8
6.1
9.4
7.7
4.9
6.6
13.0
USA
15.9
7.3
9.3
8.9
7.3
3.7
2.0
1.2
1.9
1.8
1.5
1.8
1.8
Africa
                 
7.4
     
Other*
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3.4
2.8
5.6
12.8
World Total
165.3
165.6
177.2
217.3
241.5
236.9
237.4
243.3
247.3
258.3
290.3
313.0
349.0
* Includes Colombia, Jamaica and Poland
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: BP Drewry
52


Further expansion of regasification and terminal import infrastructure will support the continued growth in Chinese LNG imports. China is not different from the U.S. in that China also has large deposits of shale gas, but geological structures in China are far more complicated. Additionally, China lacks the infrastructure to support the rapid development of domestic gas supplies, creating demand for imported LNG. Monthly trends in LNG imports among Asian importers between January 2006 and January 2020 are shown in the chart below.

Asian LNG Imports: 2006-January 2020
(Million Tons)
Source: Drewry
International Trade in Natural Gas
Generally, a pipeline is the most economical way of transporting natural gas from a producer to a consumer, provided that the end users are not too distant from the natural gas reserves. However, for some areas, such as the Far East, the lack of an adequate pipeline infrastructure means that natural gas must be turned into a liquefied form (LNG), as this is the only economical and feasible way it can be transported over long distances. Additionally, sea transportation of LNG is more flexible than through a pipeline as it can accommodate required changes in trade patterns that are economically or politically driven.
International trade in natural gas has grown more than 70% between 2007 and 2019, with the volume of LNG trade currently being 2.0 times  greater than 2007 levels and accounting for nearly one-third of total natural gas trade. As a result, LNG has captured a growing share of international gas trade, primarily due to the diversification of consumers, flexibility among producers, cost-efficient transport and competitive gas prices.

World Natural Gas Trade 2007-20191
(Billion Cubic Meters)
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: Drewry

53


LNG Shipping Routes
Although the number of LNG shipping routes has increased in recent years due to growth in the number of LNG suppliers and consumers, demand for shipping services remains heavily focused on a number of key trade routes. In 2019, the principal trade routes for LNG shipping included Qatar to Europe (the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain), Qatar to Asia (India, Japan and South Korea), Australia to Asia (China, Japan and South Korea), Malaysia to Japan, US to Europe, US to Asia (South Korea and Japan), Russia to Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China) and Russia to Europe (France, Netherland, United Kingdom and Spain). Additionally, with the increase in liquefaction projects in the U.S., more cargo will be exported from the U.S. to Europe and Asia.
One important result of the geographical shifts in LNG production and consumption is that demand for shipping services (expressed in terms of ton miles), has grown at a much faster rate than the underlying increases in LNG trade. Ton miles are derived by multiplying the volume of cargo by the distance between the load and the discharge port on each voyage. Over the last decade, demand for LNG shipping services, expressed in terms of ton miles, has increased at a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7%, compared with a 7.0% increase in the volume of cargo carried.

LNG Seaborne Trade 2007-20191
(1) Provisional estimate
Source: Drewry

LNG Trades Requiring Ice Class Tonnage
Ice Class Vessel Classifications
Ice class designations are assigned to ships that are strengthened to navigate in specific ice conditions. Ice class vessels are governed by different ice class rules and regulations depending on their respective area of operations.
Baltic Sea

Bay and Gulf of Bothnia, Gulf of Finland - Finnish-Swedish Ice Class Rules (FSICR)

Gulf of Finland (Russian territorial waters) - Russian Maritime Register (RMR) Ice Class Rules
Arctic Ocean

Barents, Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi Seas - Russian Maritime Register (RMR) Ice Class Rules

Beaufort Sea, Baffin Bay, etc. - Canadian Arctic Shipping Pollution Prevention Rules (CASPPR)

RMR Ice Class Rules

There are also ice class rules and regulations for commercial ship operations on inland lakes, mainly the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway.
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In the context of current commercial newbuilding orders, the FSICR have become the de facto standard for new tonnage. Four ice classes are defined in the FSICR. The FSICR fairway due ice classes along with the design notional level thicknesses, in order of strength from high to low, are:
Class
Standard
1A Super (1AS)
Design notional level ice thickness of 1.0m. For extreme harsh ice conditions.
1A
Design notional level ice thickness of 0.8m. For harsh ice conditions.
1B
Design notional level ice thickness of 0.6m. For medium ice conditions.
1C
Design notional level ice thickness of 0.4m. For mild ice conditions.

The FSICR and the system of ice navigation operated during the winter months in the Northern Baltic are the most well-developed criteria and standards for ice navigation. The system of ice navigation comprises three fundamental elements:

Ice class merchant vessels (compliant with the FSICR for navigation in the northern Baltic);

Fairway navigation channels; and

Ice breaker assistance.
Year-round navigation and continuity of trade using the above three fundamental elements were first introduced in the northern Baltic Sea areas during the 1960s. The current FSICR, as well as the system of ice navigation, has evolved over the years to its current state.
Requirement for Ice Class Tonnage
The FSICR include technical requirements for hull and machinery scantlings as well as for the minimum propulsion power of ships. The hull of ice class vessels and the main propulsion machinery must be safe. The vessel must have sufficient power for safe operations in ice-covered waters. During the vessels' normal operations, they encounter various ice interaction loadings, which calls for strengthened hull structures.
In addition to the ice class rules, ships are required to comply with requirements set by the maritime authorities in various jurisdictions. For example, the Russian marine operations headquarters accepts ships with ice-strength functionalities according to or at least the equivalent of FSICR 1B and compliance with crewing and icebreaker assistance requirements in order to operate in the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
Ice Class LNG Fleet
The number of ships in the international LNG fleet with an ice class standard is very low. As of March 2020, there were only 31 LNG carriers with Ice Class 1A and Ice-Class 1A Super Standard in operation and seven vessels on order.
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Northern Sea Route (NSR)
Currently, cargo flows through the NSR are dominated by oil, gas and mineral exports, particularly coal and iron ore. Demand for shipping for these commodities in the region has been increasing in recent years, driven by several key factors, including:

reduced level of sea ice has extended the summer shipping season in the Arctic and is making some areas easy to navigate;

increase in mineral resource development activities in the Arctic;

commodity demand growth in Asian economies;

technological developments which have made NSR a more feasible shipping route than in the past; and

chronic political problems in the Middle East, piracy in North Africa, and non-transparent commercial disputes over the Suez in Egypt.
These factors have made NSR a promising alternative.

Northern Sea Route
Source: Drewry
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As a result, the NSR experienced strong growth in trade volumes between 2010 and 2019, illustrated in the table below. However, transit traffic on the NSR fell substantially in 2014 and 2015, with only 23 and 18 vessels passing through in the respective years. In 2016, cargo volumes rebounded, partly because construction materials for the Yamal LNG plant were handled at Port of Sabetta on the Yamal Peninsula. With Yamal LNG project coming on stream, transit cargo volume through Northern Sea Route has increased more than three times between 2016 and 2019.

Northern Sea Route — Transit traffic
 
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Number of Vessels
4
34
46
71
23
18
19
NA
NA
29
Total Cargo Volume (thousand tons)
111,000
820,789
1,261,545
1,355,897
274,000
39,586
214,513
NA
NA
697,277
Source: Drewry, Centre for High North Logistics
In early 2017, the most suitable LNG terminal on the NSR for loading LNG for transport to the Far East was located in Northern Norway. The distance from Norway to Japan through the NSR is approximately 45% shorter than traditional shipping routes through the Suez Canal. The Arctic route allows ships to save time, fuel, and cut back on environmental emissions.
Russia began production at the first train of the Yamal LNG project in December 2017, while the second and third train of the project began production in July 2018 and November 2018, respectively. The Yamal project (located in remote northern Russia, above the Arctic Circle) has added 16.5 million tons of LNG to the global supply as of March 31, 2020. . In December 2018, Yamal LNG offloaded its one hundredth LNG cargo since the beginning of the first train of the project in December 2017. Yamal LNG project attained full capacity in 2019 and Russia's LNG exports increased 32.1% in 2019 over the previous year. Drewry expects that increased Russian LNG exports will increase the demand for ice class vessels as the transportation from Yamal and under construction Arctic LNG2 project to Asian and European countries will require a specialized category of ice-breaker LNG carriers capable of taking the shorter Arctic route. Additionally, the price competitiveness of Russian LNG compared with that of the US is likely to boost Russian exports.