Company Quick10K Filing
Quick10K
Dynagas Lng Partners
Closing Price ($) Shares Out (MM) Market Cap ($MM)
$2.50 35 $89
20-F 2017-12-31 Annual: 2017-12-31
20-F 2016-12-31 Annual: 2016-12-31
20-F 2015-12-31 Annual: 2015-12-31
RCL Royal Caribbean Cruises
HII Huntington Ingalls Industries
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SMHI Seacor Marine Holdings
CPLP Capital Product Partners
HOS Hornbeck Offshore Services
ESEA Euroseas
DLNG 2017-12-31
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-4.9 d7832210_ex4-9.htm
EX-4.10 d7786355_ex4-10.htm
EX-8.1 d7786355_ex8-1.htm
EX-12.1 d7786355_ex12-1.htm
EX-12.2 d7786355_ex12-2.htm
EX-13.1 d7786355_ex13-1.htm
EX-13.2 d7786355_ex13-2.htm
EX-15.1 d7786355_ex15-1.htm
EX-15.2 d7786355_ex15-2.htm

Dynagas Lng Partners Earnings 2017-12-31

DLNG 20F Annual Report

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

20-F 1 d7786355_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, 2017
 
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)

23, Rue Basse, 98000 Monaco
(Address of principal executive offices)
Michael Gregos
23, Rue Basse, 98000 Monaco
Tel. +377 99996445
(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:
 
Common units representing limited partnership interests
6.25% Senior Notes Due 2019
9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange

Title of class
Name of exchange on which registered

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
3,000,000 9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units
35,526 General Partner 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
   
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 and posted on its corporate Website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months
[X] Yes
[_] No
 
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer" and "smaller reporting company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer  [_]
Accelerated filer  [X]
Non-accelerated filer   [_]
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
Smaller reporting company  [_]

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

PRESENTATION OF INFORMATION IN THIS ANNUAL REPORT
 
This Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2017, 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" or the "Sponsor Controlled Companies".
All references in this prospectus to "Shell", "Gazprom", "Statoil", "Yamal" and "PetroChina" refer to Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Gazprom Marketing and Trading Singapore Pte Ltd, Statoil ASA, Yamal Trade Pte. Ltd. and PetroChina International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., respectively, and certain of their respective subsidiaries or affiliates, who are our current or prospective charterers.
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 from our Sponsor certain identified vessels. Our Sponsor owns, directly or indirectly, 100% of the equity interests of the entities that own these four identified LNG carriers, 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." Our Sponsor also owns a minority ownership interest in five entities that currently own two 172,000 cubic meter ARC7 LNG carriers, the Boris Vilkitsky and the Fedor Litke, and three hulls, Hull 2427, Hull 2428 and Hull 2429, respectively, including the related charters or other agreements relating to the operation or ownership of such LNG carriers or hulls.  We refer to these vessels (either on the water or under construction) throughout this Annual Report as the "Additional Optional Vessels," and together with the Initial Optional Vessels, 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 our Sponsor's applicable ownership interest in the Optional Vessels, which is our Sponsor's full or minority ownership interest in these vessel-owning subsidiaries.
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 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."
i


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.  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," "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;
·
fluctuations in currencies and interest rates;
·
general market conditions, including fluctuations in charter hire rates and vessel values;
·
changes in our operating expenses, including drydocking and insurance costs and bunker prices;
·
forecasts of our ability to make cash distributions on the units or any increases or decreases in our cash distributions;
·
our future financial condition or results of operations and our future revenues and expenses;
·
the repayment of debt and settling of interest rate swaps (if any);
·
our ability to make additional borrowings and to access debt and equity markets;
·
planned capital expenditures and availability of capital resources to fund capital expenditures;
·
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 in the future, including the Optional Vessels;
·
our continued ability to enter into 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;
ii



·
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;
·
the expected cost of, and our ability to comply with, governmental regulations, 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;
·
the anticipated taxation of our Partnership and distributions to our unitholders;
·
estimated future maintenance and replacement capital expenditures;
·
our ability to retain key employees;
·
customers' 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, piracy or acts by terrorists;
·
future sales of our common units in the public market;
·
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 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 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.  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.
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.
iii


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
39
ITEM 4A.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
72
ITEM 5.
OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
72
ITEM 6.
DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES
89
ITEM 7.
MAJOR UNITHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
92
ITEM 8.
FINANCIAL INFORMATION
100
ITEM 9.
THE OFFER AND LISTING.
103
ITEM 10.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
104
ITEM 11.
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
113
ITEM 12.
DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES
114
PART II
 
114
ITEM 13.
DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES
114
ITEM 14.
MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS
114
ITEM 15.
CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
114
ITEM 16.
[RESERVED]
115
ITEM 16A.
AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT
115
ITEM 16B.
CODE OF ETHICS
116
ITEM 16C.
PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES
116
ITEM 16D.
EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES
116
ITEM 16E.
PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS
116
ITEM 16F.
CHANGE IN REGISTRANTS' CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT
117
ITEM 16G.
CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
117
ITEM 16H.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE
117
PART III
 
117
ITEM 17.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
117
ITEM 18.
FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
118
ITEM 19.
EXHIBITS
118
     


iv


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 operating data. For periods prior to the completion of our IPO, which occurred on November 18, 2013, our historical consolidated financial statements have been prepared according to a transaction that constitutes a reorganization of companies under common control and has been accounted for in a manner similar to a pooling of interests, as the Sponsor Controlled Companies were indirectly wholly-owned by the Prokopiou Family prior to the transfer of ownership of these companies to us. Accordingly, our financial statements have been presented, giving retroactive effect to the transaction described above, using consolidated and combined financial historical carrying costs of the assets and liabilities of Dynagas LNG Partners and the Sponsor Controlled Companies.
The following selected historical financial data as of and for each of the years in the five-year period ended December 31, 2017 have been derived from our audited consolidated and combined financial statements which have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (U.S. GAAP). The following financial data should be read in conjunction with "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects" and our historical consolidated financial statements and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Our financial position, results of operations and cash flows could differ from those that would have resulted if we operated autonomously or as an entity independent of our Sponsor in the periods prior to our IPO for which historical financial data are presented below, and such data may not be indicative of our future operating results or financial performance.
 
   
Year Ended December 31,
 
   
2017
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
   
2013
 
STATEMENT OF INCOME
 
(In thousands of Dollars, except for units, per unit data and TCE rates )
 
Voyage revenues
 
$
138,990
   
$
169,851
   
$
145,202
   
$
107,088
   
$
85,679
 
Voyage expenses- including related party (1)
   
(3,619
)
   
(2,961
)
   
(2,804
)
   
(2,273
)
   
(1,686
)
Vessel operating expenses
   
(27,067
)
   
(26,451
)
   
(23,244
)
   
(16,813
)
   
(11,909
)
General and administrative expenses- including related party
   
(1,686
)
   
(1,885
)
   
(1,805
)
   
(1,951
)
   
(387
)
Management fees
   
(6,162
)
   
(5,999
)
   
(4,870
)
   
(3,566
)
   
(2,737
)
Depreciation
   
(30,319
)
   
(30,395
)
   
(24,387
)
   
(17,822
)
   
(13,579
)
Dry-docking and special survey costs
   
(6,193
)
   
(81
)
   
-
     
-
     
-
 
Operating income
 
$
63,944
   
$
102,079
   
$
88,092
   
$
64,663
   
$
55,381
 
Interest income
   
203
     
-
     
35
     
221
     
-
 
Interest and finance costs
   
(46,281
)
   
(34,991
)
   
(27,974
)
   
(14,524
)
   
(9,732
)
Other, net
   
(527
)
   
(234
)
   
(103
)
   
201
     
(29
)
Net Income
 
$
17,339
   
$
66,854
   
$
60,050
   
$
50,561
   
$
45,620
 
                                         
EARNINGS PER UNIT (basic and diluted):
                                       
Common Unit (basic and diluted)
 
$
0.27
   
$
1.69
   
$
1.60
   
$
1.58
   
$
2.95
 
Weighted average number of units outstanding (basic and diluted):
                                       
Common units
   
34,545,740
     
20,505,000
     
20,505,000
     
17,964,288
     
7,729,521
 
Cash distributions declared and paid per common unit
 
$
1.69
   
$
1.69
   
$
1.69
   
$
1.29
(2) 
 
$
-
 
                                         
BALANCE SHEET DATA:
                                       
Total current assets
 
$
70,404
   
$
60,195
   
$
25,814
   
$
14,348
   
$
7,606
 
Vessels, net
   
977,298
     
1,007,617
     
1,036,157
     
839,883
     
453,175
 
Total assets
   
1,054,319
     
1,106,676
     
1,108,103
     
887,376
     
488,735
 
Total current liabilities
   
22,898
     
53,056
     
51,353
     
33,249
     
14,903
 
Total long-term debt, including current portion, gross of deferred financing fees
   
727,600
     
722,500
     
688,333
     
575,000
     
219,585
 
Total partners' equity
   
318,318
     
367,836
     
367,838
     
297,698
     
257,699
 
 

1


                               
CASH FLOW DATA:
                             
Net cash provided by operating activities
 
$
59,339
   
$
103,618
   
$
96,944
   
$
76,443
   
$
44,204
 
Net cash used in investing activities
   
-
     
(37,472
)
   
(205,045
)
   
(404,530
)
   
-
 
Net cash (used in)/provided by financing activities
   
(49,470
)
   
(32,844
)
   
120,445
     
334,359
     
(38,527
)
                                         
FLEET PERFORMANCE DATA:
                                       
Number of vessels at the end of the year
   
6
     
6
     
6
     
5
     
3
 
Average number of vessels in operation (3)
   
6.0
     
6.0
     
5.0
     
3.8
     
3.0
 
Average age of vessels in operation at end of year (years)
   
7.4
     
6.4
     
5.4
     
5.0
     
6.4
 
Available days (4)
   
2,140.3
     
2,196.0
     
1,836.0
     
1,384.0
     
1,095.0
 
Fleet utilization (5)
   
98
%
   
100
%
   
99
%
   
100
%
   
100
%
                                         
OTHER FINANCIAL DATA:
                                       
Time Charter Equivalent (in US dollars) (6)
 
$
63,249
   
$
75,997
   
$
77,559
   
$
75,733
   
$
76,706
 
Adjusted EBITDA (6)
 
$
107,545
   
$
139,531
   
$
113,202
   
$
84,751
   
$
64,749
 
 
(1)
Voyage expenses include commissions of 1.25% paid to our Manager and third-party ship brokers.
(2)
Includes a prorated quarterly distribution for the period beginning on November 18, 2013 and ending on December 31, 2013 that was declared on January 31, 2013 and paid on February 14, 2014.
(3)
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.
(4)
Available days are the total number of calendar days 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.
(5)
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.
(6)
Non-GAAP Financial Information

TCE. Time charter equivalent rates, or TCE rates, is a measure 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 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 rate is standard shipping industry performance measure used primarily to compare period-to-period changes in a company's performance and assists our management in making decisions regarding the deployment and use of our vessels and in evaluating their financial performance. Our calculation of TCE rates may not be comparable to that reported by other companies. The following table reflects the calculation of our TCE rates for the periods presented (amounts in thousands of U.S. dollars, except for 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)
 
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
Voyage revenues
 
$
138,990
   
$
169,851
   
$
145,202
   
$
107,088
   
$
85,679
 
Voyage expenses
 
$
(3,619
)
 
$
(2,961
)
 
$
(2,804
)
 
$
(2,273
)
 
$
(1,686
)
Time charter equivalent revenues
 
$
135,371
   
$
166,890
   
$
142,398
   
$
104,815
   
$
83,993
 
Total Available days
   
2,140.3
     
2,196.0
     
1,836.0
     
1,384.0
     
1,095.0
 
Time charter equivalent (TCE) rate
 
$
63,249
   
$
75,997
   
$
77,559
   
$
75,733
   
$
76,706
 

 
2


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 performance operating 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 and (b) monitoring our ongoing financial and operational strength 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:
Reconciliation of Net Income to Adjusted EBITDA

(In thousands of U.S.  dollars)
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
Reconciliation to Net Income
 
2017
   
2016
   
2015
   
2014
   
2013
 
Net Income
 
$
17,339
   
$
66,854
   
$
60,050
   
$
50,561
   
$
45,620
 
Net interest and finance costs (1)
   
46,078
     
34,991
     
27,939
     
14,303
     
9,732
 
Depreciation
   
30,319
     
30,395
     
24,387
     
17,822
     
13,579
 
Class survey costs
   
6,193
     
81
     
-
     
-
     
-
 
Amortization of fair value of acquired time charter
   
7,247
     
7,268
     
218
     
-
     
-
 
Charter hire amortization and other non-cash revenue adjustments
   
369
     
(58
)
   
608
     
2,065
     
(4,182
)
Adjusted EBITDA
 
$
107,545
   
$
139,531
   
$
113,202
   
$
84,751
   
$
64,749
 

(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 6.25% Notes due October 30, 2019, or our 2019 Notes. The occurrence of any of the events described in this section could significantly and negatively affect our business, financial condition, operating results or cash available for distribution on our units and required payments on our 2019 Notes, and the trading price of our securities.
3



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 common units or 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 our common and preferred unitholders could be materially adversely affected. The Yenisei River and the Lena River are expected to be redelivered to us under their current charters at the earliest in July and September 2018, respectively, following which these vessels are expected to commence employment under their new 15-year charters with Yamal within six months and one year delivery windows starting from January 1, 2019 and July 1, 2019, respectively. We expect that these delivery windows will be narrowed, subject to our agreement with Yamal. Following the redelivery of Lena River and the Yenisei River to us from their current charterers and until such vessels commence employment under the Yamal charters discussed above, we expect to operate these two vessels in the spot market, which is volatile, highly competitive and subject to significant price fluctuations. If we are unable to employ these vessels in the spot market following the expiration of the existing charters and until the commencement of the new Yamal charters, we will not receive any revenues from those vessels during that time, and we will be required to pay expenses necessary to maintain the vessels in proper operating condition and to service the debt secured by these vessels.
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, Statoil and Yamal. For the year ended December 31, 2017, during which we derived our operating revenues from four charterers, Gazprom accounted for 72%, Statoil accounted for 19%, Shell accounted for 6% and PetroChina accounted for 3% of our total revenues. All of the charters for our Fleet have fixed terms, but may be terminated early due to certain events, such as a 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 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 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 could sustain losses, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, cash flows, results of operations and ability to pay 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 or political unrest, which prevents the chartering of the vessel.
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.
4



If any of our charters is 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.
In 2018, our three tri-fuel diesel electric (TFDE) propulsion system vessels are scheduled to be dry-docked which will require significant expenditures and may result in loss of revenue.
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 budgeted, our results of operations and our cash flows, including cash available for distribution to unitholders, could be adversely affected.
In the second and third quarters of 2018, our three tri-fuel diesel electric (TFDE) propulsion system vessels, the Arctic Aurora, the Yenisei River and the Lena River, are scheduled to be dry-docked.The dry-docking of the TFDE vessels will require a longer time than the dry-docking of our three steam turbine vessels in 2017 and we expect the costs to be higher. 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 distributions on our common or preferred units.
The failure to consummate or integrate acquisitions, including acquisitions of the Optional Vessels from our Sponsor, in a timely and cost-effective manner, or at all, could have an adverse effect on our business, our expected plans for growth and on financial condition and results of operations.
Acquisitions that expand our Fleet are an important component of our business strategy.  Our current drop-down pipeline is composed solely of the Optional Vessels. Pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement and certain extension agreements with our Sponsor, we have the option, but not the obligation, to purchase from our Sponsor: (i) the Clean Horizon and the Clean Vision until December 31, 2018 (ii) the Clean Ocean and the Clean Planet until March 31, 2018, and (iii) the 49% equity interests held by our Sponsor on the Additional Optional Vessels, which consist of the Boris Vilkitsky and the Fedor Litke, which were delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017, and first quarter of 2018, respectively, and three vessels that are currently under construction until the first quarter of 2019. 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 is therefore dependent 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, or (ii) obtain the required consents from lenders and charterers for the acquisition of vessels from our Sponsor.  
Furthermore, we will not be 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.
We believe that other acquisition opportunities with 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 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 our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make cash distributions to our unitholders, including risks that we may:
·
fail to realize anticipated benefits, such as new customer relationships, cost-savings or cash flow enhancements;
5



·
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 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 related to compliance with various international 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 adversely affected.
We may be subject to certain risks with respect to our acquisition, or potential acquisition, of our Sponsor's ownership interest in the Additional Optional Vessels.
If we acquire any or all of our Sponsor's 49% ownership interest in the Additional Optional Vessels 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.  We will not own a majority of the ownership interests in the entities that own the Additional Optional Vessels and, as such, we may not be able to exercise control over such entities or the Additional 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 Additional Optional Vessels are employed or are contracted to be employed by Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project. Accordingly, such vessels have or are expected to 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 do not eventually materialize or 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.
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 its debt agreements or any other agreement relating to the Optional Vessels, our business and expected plans for growth may be materially affected.
Our Sponsor may be unable to fulfill its obligations under its debt and other agreements that are secured by or relate to the Optional Vessels. Failure on behalf of our Sponsor to perform its obligations under its 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 Optional Vessels. In addition, if our Sponsor fails to perform its obligations under other agreements governing the Optional vessels, we might not be able to take delivery of such Optional Vessels at all. In these cases, we may not be able to exercise our rights under the Omnibus Agreement to acquire the Optional Vessels, which would likely have a material adverse effect on our business and our expected plans for growth.
6



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 into, and may enter in the future, contracts, charters, newbuilding and conversion contracts with shipyards, debt agreements with financial institutions 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 and the overall financial condition of the counterparty.  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.  Please also see "—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 common units and our Series A Preferred 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 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. We may not have sufficient cash from operations to pay at least the minimum quarterly distribution of $0.365 per unit on our common units and may therefore pay distributions in a lower amount or not all.  The amount of cash we can distribute on our common and preferred units principally depends upon 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;
·
the continued availability of natural gas production;
·
demand for LNG;
·
supply of LNG carriers;
·
prevailing global and regional economic and political conditions;
·
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 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;
 
7



·
variable tax rates;
·
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 growth 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.
Although we have secured an estimated contract backlog of $1.48 billion for the vessels in our Fleet as of the date of this Annual Report, 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:
·
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.
8



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 a limited number of charterers. Our existing and future charterers 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.
We believe that our cash flows from operations, amounts available for borrowings under out credit facilities and our cash balance will be sufficient to meet our existing liquidity requirements for at least the next 12 months from the date of this Annual Report. However, we may need to raise additional capital to maintain, replace and expand the operating capacity of our Fleet, to fund our operations or to refinance our indebtedness. 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.
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 distributions per unit. Debt financing, if available, may involve covenants restricting our operations or our ability to incur additional debt or to pay distributions. 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 may be unable to make or realize expected benefits from acquisitions, which could have an adverse effect on our expected plans for growth.
Any acquisition of a vessel or business may not be profitable to us at or after the time we acquire it and may be cash flow negative or may not generate cash flow sufficient to justify our investment.  In addition, our acquisition growth strategy exposes us to risks that may harm our business, financial condition and operating results, including risks that we may:
·
fail to realize anticipated benefits, such as new customer relationships, cost-savings or cash flow enhancements;
·
be unable to hire, train or retain qualified shore and seafaring personnel to manage and operate our growing business and fleet;
9



·
decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of our 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 intangible assets, asset devaluation or restructuring charges.
If we acquire secondhand vessels, as opposed to newbuildings, we may be exposed to additional risks. Unlike newbuildings, secondhand vessels typically do not carry warranties as to their condition.  While we generally inspect secondhand vessels prior to purchase, such an inspection would normally not provide us with as much knowledge of a vessel's condition as we would possess if it had been built for us and operated by us during its life.  Repairs and maintenance costs for secondhand vessels are difficult to predict and may be substantially higher than for vessels we have operated since they were built.  These costs could decrease our cash flow and reduce our liquidity and could have an adverse effect on our expected plans for growth.
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 restrict 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.
10



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. We hold a meeting of the limited partners every year to elect one or more members of our Board of Directors that are eligible for reelection and to vote on any other matters that are properly brought before the meeting. Common unitholders are entitled to elect only three of the five members of our Board of Directors. The elected directors are reelected on a staggered basis and serve for three year terms. Our General Partner has the right to appoint the remaining two directors and set the terms for which those directors will serve. The Partnership Agreement also contains provisions limiting the ability of unitholders to call meetings or to acquire information about our operations, as well as other provisions limiting the unitholders' ability to influence the manner or direction of management. Unitholders have no right to elect our General Partner, and our General Partner may not be removed except by a vote of the holders of at least 66 2/3% of the outstanding common units, including any units owned by our General Partner, our Sponsor and their respective affiliates, voting together as a single class.
Our Partnership Agreement further restricts unitholders' voting rights by providing that if any person or group owns beneficially more than 4.9% of any class of units then outstanding, any such units owned by that person or group in excess of 4.9% may not be voted on any matter and will not be considered to be outstanding when sending notices of a meeting of unitholders, calculating required votes (except for purposes of nominating a person for election to our board), determining the presence of a quorum or for other similar purposes under our Partnership Agreement, unless required by law. The voting rights of any such unitholders in excess of 4.9% will effectively be redistributed pro rata among the other common unitholders holding less than 4.9% of the voting power of all classes of units entitled to vote. Our General Partner, its affiliates, including our Sponsor, and persons who acquired common units 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.
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;
·
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
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·
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 the Management Agreements. We currently pay our Manager a fee of $2,898 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 $8.0 million in connection with the commercial and technical management of our Fleet for the year ended December 31, 2017.
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, 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 expires in November 2018, 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, 2017, we incurred approximately $0.6 million in connection with this agreement.
Pursuant to an administrative services agreement, or the Administrative Services Agreement, our Manager also provides us with certain administrative and support services for which we currently pay a monthly fee of $10,000, plus all related costs and expenses. As of December 31, 2017, 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.
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 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 43.9% of the outstanding common units.
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·
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 provision providing that if any person or group owns beneficially more than 4.9% of any class of units then outstanding, any such units owned by that person or group in excess of 4.9% may not be voted on any matter and will not be considered to be outstanding when sending notices of a meeting of unitholders, calculating required votes (except for purposes of nominating a person for election to our board), determining the presence of a quorum or for other similar purposes under our Partnership Agreement, unless required by law. The voting rights of any such unitholders in excess of 4.9% will effectively be redistributed pro rata among the other common unitholders holding less than 4.9% of the voting power of all classes of units entitled to vote. Our General Partner, its affiliates and persons who acquired common units with the prior approval of our Board of Directors are not be subject to this 4.9% limitation except with respect to voting their common units in the election of the elected directors.
·
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. 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.
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, 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 management agreements, or 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.
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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:
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renew existing charters upon their expiration;
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obtain new charters;
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successfully interact with shipyards;
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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 Term Loan B and the Manager's Undertaking delivered by the Manager in connection with the Term Loan B.  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 common 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.
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.
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We are an "emerging growth company" and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our common units less attractive to investors.
We are an "emerging growth company" as defined in the JOBS Act. We will continue to be deemed an "emerging growth company" until the earliest of the last day of (i) the fiscal year of during which we had total annual gross revenues of $1 billion or more, (ii) the last day of the fiscal year following the fifth anniversary of our IPO, or December 31, 2018, (iii) the date in which, during the previous 3-year period, we have issued more than $1.0 billion in non-convertible debt, or (iv) the date on which we will be deemed to be a large accelerated filer. Until the time when we cease to be an "emerging growth company," we are exempt from having our independent auditor assess our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We cannot predict if investors will find our common units less attractive because we rely on this exemption. If some investors find our common units less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for our units and our unit price may be more volatile.
Our ability to grow and to meet our financial needs may be adversely affected by our cash distribution policy.
Our cash distribution policy, which is consistent with our Partnership Agreement, requires us to distribute all of our available cash (as defined in our Partnership Agreement) each quarter. As a result, we do not expect to accumulate significant amounts of cash. Accordingly, our growth may not be as fast as businesses that reinvest their available cash to expand ongoing operations.
In determining the amount of cash available for distribution, our Board of Directors approves the amount of cash reserves to set aside, including reserves for future maintenance and replacement capital expenditures distributions relating to our Series A Preferred Units and common units, working capital and other matters. We may also rely upon external financing sources, including commercial borrowings, to fund our capital expenditures. Accordingly, to the extent we do not have sufficient cash reserves or are unable to obtain financing, our cash distribution policy, including the distributions we make with respect to our Series A Preferred Units, may significantly impair our ability to meet our financial needs or to grow.
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. 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.
Upon the expiration of the subordination period on January 23, 2017, the subordinated units converted into common units and now participate pro rata with other common units in distributions of available cash.
During the subordination period, which we define elsewhere in this Annual Report, the common units had the right to receive distributions of available cash from operating surplus in an amount equal to the minimum quarterly distribution of $0.365 per unit, plus any arrearages in the payment of the minimum quarterly distribution on the common units from prior quarters, before any distributions of available cash from operating surplus were to be made on the subordinated units. Distribution arrearages did not accrue on the subordinated units. The purpose of the subordinated units was to increase the likelihood that during the subordination period there would be available cash from operating surplus to be distributed on the common units. On January 23, 2017, upon our payment to unitholders of the quarterly distribution in respect of the fourth quarter of 2016, the conditions set forth in the Partnership Agreement for the conversion of the subordinated units were satisfied and the subordination period expired. At the expiration of the subordination period, the 14,985,000 subordinated units owned by our Sponsor converted into common units on a one-for-one basis and now participate pro rata with other common units in distributions of available cash. Upon the conversion and as of the date of this Annual Report, our Sponsor owns 15,595,000 common units, or approximately 43.9% of our outstanding common units.
See "Item 8. Financial Information—A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Our Cash Distribution Policy."
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Actions taken by our Board of Directors may affect 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;
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cash expenditures;
·
borrowings;
·
estimates of maintenance and replacement capital expenditures;
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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.
For example, in the event we have not generated sufficient cash from our operations to pay the minimum quarterly distribution on our common units, our Partnership Agreement permits us to borrow funds, which would enable us to make this distribution on all outstanding units.
Our Partnership Agreement provides that we and our subsidiaries may borrow funds from our General Partner and its affiliates. Our General Partner and its affiliates may not borrow funds from us or our subsidiaries.
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 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:
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increases in interest rates or other events that may affect the availability of sufficient financing for LNG projects on commercially reasonable terms;
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increases in the cost of natural gas derived from LNG relative to the cost of natural gas generally;
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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;
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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;
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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;
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·
any significant explosion, spill or other incident involving an LNG facility or carrier;
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infrastructure constraints such as 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;
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labor or political unrest or military conflicts affecting existing or proposed areas of LNG production or regasification;
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decreases in the price of LNG, which might decrease the expected returns relating to investments in LNG projects;
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new taxes or regulations affecting LNG production or liquefaction that make LNG production less attractive; or
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negative global or regional economic or political conditions, 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 2017, mainly driven by the demand from China and India. In 2017, LNG trade grew by 13% due to the sizeable growth in imports by the major LNG importing countries. In particular, Chinese LNG imports increased 53% year over year to about 38.3 million tons in 2017 as the country has been shifting from coal to gas for industrial uses and heating purposes. Additionally, India's LNG imports grew 7% year over year to 17.7 million tons in 2017. In 2016, global LNG trade recorded growth of 2% year over year to 253 million tons whereas Chinese LNG imports strengthened 31% year over year. However, demand from the key Asian importers, Japan and South Korea, has been stagnant as a change in priorities has marked a shift back to nuclear energy and coal-based power plants. In addition, demand from European countries has also dwindled in recent years, and lower crude oil prices have further weakened LNG demand. Fluctuating demand along with economic uncertainty could hurt our ability to secure future-term charters.
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, though 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:
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worldwide demand for natural gas;
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the cost of exploration, development, production, transportation and distribution of natural gas;
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·
expectations regarding future energy prices for both natural gas and other sources of energy;
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the level of worldwide LNG production and exports;
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government laws and regulations, including but not limited to environmental protection laws and regulations;
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local and international political, economic and weather conditions;
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political and military conflicts; and
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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 attractive 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 could adversely affect our ability to 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 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:
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prevailing economic conditions in the natural gas and energy markets;
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a substantial or extended decline in demand for LNG;
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increases in the supply of vessel capacity;
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the size and age of a vessel; and
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the cost of retrofitting or modifying secondhand vessels, as a result of technological advances in vessel design or equipment, changes in applicable environmental or other regulations or standards, customer requirements or otherwise.
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As our vessels age, the expenses associated with maintaining and operating them are expected to increase, which could have an 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 would be significant. If a charter terminates, we may be unable to re-deploy the affected vessels at attractive rates and, rather than continue to incur costs to maintain and finance them, we may seek to dispose of them. 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, results of operations and financial condition and ability to pay minimum quarterly or other distributions 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 January 2018, the global fleet of LNG carriers grew from 360 to 456 vessels due to the construction and delivery of new LNG carriers and low levels of vessel demolition. Only 16 LNG carriers, representing 3.5% 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. As of January 31, 2018, the newbuilding orderbook consisted of 111 vessels with a combined capacity of 18.7 million cbm, equivalent to 26.6% of the current global LNG carrier fleet capacity, according to Drewry. The delivery of these newbuildings will be spread out between 2018 and 2021.
According to Drewry, as of January 31, 2018, there were 56 LNG carriers in the size range of 149,000-155,000 cbm in the LNG trading fleet, of which 48 have membrane cargo containment system. There were four LNG carriers in the same size segment on orderbook. However, all of them have moss spherical containment system.
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 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 or more flexible or have longer physical lives than ours, 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 and could also reduce the resale value of our vessels. This could also adversely affect our revenues and cash flows, including 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, a continuous decrease in the quality concerning one or more LNG carriers occurring over time. Moreover, continuous increasing requirements from LNG industry constituents can further complicate our ability to meet the standards. Any noncompliance by the Partnership, either suddenly or over a period of time, on one or more LNG Carriers, or an increase 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 and financial position.
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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 would cause us to have less cash available for distribution. Because we report our operating results in U.S. Dollars, changes in the value of the U.S. Dollar 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 or bunker costs and 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 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 is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events 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, regional production patterns and environmental concerns. These may increase vessel operating and dry-docking costs further, which could materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
In addition, capital expenditures and other costs necessary for maintaining a vessel in good operating condition generally increase as the age of the vessel increases. Accordingly, it is likely that the operating costs of our vessels and capital expenditures we are required to make will increase in the future which will have a direct impact on our future results or operations and cash flows.
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 cargoes are at risk of being damaged or lost because of events such as:
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marine disasters;
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piracy;
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environmental accidents;
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bad weather;
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mechanical failures;
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grounding, fire, explosions and collisions;
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human error; and
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war and terrorism.
An accident involving any of our vessels could result in any of the following:
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death or injury to persons, loss of property or environmental damage;
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delays or failure in the delivery of cargo;
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loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts;
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governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business;
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·
spills, pollution and the liability associated with the same;
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higher insurance rates; and
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damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally.
Any of these events could result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results. 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 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 could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and cash flows, which in turn could weaken our financial condition and negatively 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 risks may not be adequately insured against, and any particular claim may not be paid. 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 environmental regulations have led in the past to increased costs for, and in the future may result in the lack of availability of, insurance against risks of 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 failing to maintain certification with applicable maritime self-regulatory organizations.
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 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 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, volatile. This volatility has negatively affected the general willingness of banks and other financial institutions to extend credit, particularly in the shipping industry, due to the historically volatile asset values of vessels. As the shipping industry is highly dependent on the availability of credit to finance and expand operations, it has been and may continue to be negatively affected by this decline in lending. A weak state of global financial markets and 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.
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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 many lenders have increased interest rates, enacted tighter lending standards, refused to refinance existing debt at all or on terms similar to current debt and reduced, and in some cases ceased, to provide funding to borrowers. Due to these factors, we cannot be certain that financing will be available to the extent required, or that we will be able to 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.
As of the date of this Annual Report, we have not secured any financing in connection with the potential acquisition of the remaining Initial Optional Vessels or the Additional Optional Vessels from our Sponsor since it is uncertain if and when such purchase options will be exercised, if at all. Our Sponsor has secured financing for the Initial Optional Vessels and, our Sponsor together with its joint venture partners, have secured financing for the Additional 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 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.
A cyber-attack could materially disrupt our business.
Our business operations could be targeted by individuals or groups seeking to sabotage or disrupt our information technology systems and networks, or to steal data. A successful cyber-attack could materially disrupt our operations, including the safety of its operations, or lead to unauthorized release of information or alteration of information on its systems. Any such attack or other 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.
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 or 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 complying 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.
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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. They 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 also to maintain environmental manuals and plans. Delays in obtaining such governmental approvals may increase our expenses, and the terms and conditions of such approvals could materially and adversely affect our operations.
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 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 incremental 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 we 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."
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.
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."
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Climate change and greenhouse gas restrictions may adversely impact our operations and markets.
Due to concern over the risks of climate change, a number of countries and the International Maritime Organization, or IMO, have adopted, or are considering the adoption of, regulatory frameworks to reduce greenhouse gas emission from ships. These regulatory measures may include adoption of cap and trade regimes, carbon taxes, increased efficiency standards and incentives or mandates for renewable energy. Although emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping currently are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the "Kyoto Protocol", a new treaty may be adopted in the future that includes additional restrictions on shipping emissions to those already adopted under the International Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), and some countries have made voluntary pledges to control the emissions of greenhouse gasses.  For example, the 2015 United Nations Convention on Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016.  While the Paris Agreement does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, the EU made various commitments to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its member states by 2020.  On June 1, 2017, the U.S. President announced that it is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.  The timing and effect of such action has yet to be determined.  The IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee, or MEPC, has already approved two sets of mandatory requirements to address greenhouse gases from ships: the Energy Efficiency Design Index, or EEDI, and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management plan, or SEEMP. At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved.  In accordance with this roadmap, initial IMO strategy for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions needs to be developed by MEPC 72, which will be held in April 2018.  The IMO may implement market-based mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships at the upcoming MEPC session. Compliance with future changes in laws and regulations relating to climate change could increase the costs of operating and maintaining our vessels and could require us to install new emission controls, as well as acquire allowances, 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.
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 that could harm 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 and other geographic countries and areas, geopolitical events such as Brexit, terrorist or other attacks, and war (or threatened war) or international hostilities, such as those between the United States and North Korea. 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 customer Gazprom and our prospective customer 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.
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, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, and ability to pay dividends.
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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 adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations is expensive and can consume significant time and attention of our senior management.
Terrorist attacks, international hostilities and piracy could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
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. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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 and in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia.  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 "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 operations.
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The vessels we own or manage could be required by our charterers' instructions to call on ports located in countries that are subject to restrictions imposed by the United States and other governments.
Although no vessels operated by us have called on ports located in countries subject to sanctions and embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran, Sudan and Syria, in the future our vessels may call on ports in these countries from time to time on our charterers' instructions. The U.S. 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. In 2010, the U.S. enacted the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act, or CISADA, which expanded the scope of the Iran Sanctions Act. Among other things, CISADA expands the application of the prohibitions to companies such as ours and introduces limits on the ability of companies and persons to do business or trade with Iran when such activities relate to the investment, supply or export of refined petroleum or petroleum products. In addition, in 2012, President Obama signed Executive Order 13608 which prohibits foreign persons from violating or attempting to violate, or causing a violation of any sanctions in effect against Iran or facilitating any deceptive transactions for or on behalf of any person subject to U.S. sanctions. Any persons found to be in violation of Executive Order 13608 will be deemed a foreign sanctions evader and will be banned from all contacts with the United States, including conducting business in U.S. dollars. Also in 2012, President Obama signed into law the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, or the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which created new sanctions and strengthened existing sanctions. Among other things, the Iran Threat Reduction Act intensifies existing sanctions regarding the provision of goods, services, infrastructure or technology to Iran's petroleum or petrochemical sector. The Iran Threat Reduction Act also includes a provision requiring the President of the United States to impose five or more sanctions from Section 6(a) of the Iran Sanctions Act, as amended, on a person the President determines is a controlling beneficial owner of, or otherwise owns, operates, or controls or insures a vessel that was used to transport crude oil from Iran to another country and (1) if the person is a controlling beneficial owner of the vessel, the person had actual knowledge the vessel was so used or (2) if the person otherwise owns, operates, or controls, or insures the vessel, the person knew or should have known the vessel was so used. Such a person could be subject to a variety of sanctions, including exclusion from U.S. capital markets, exclusion from financial transactions subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and exclusion of that person's vessels from U.S. ports for up to two years.
On November 24, 2013, the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia and China) entered into an interim agreement with Iran entitled the "Joint Plan of Action" ("JPOA"). Under the JPOA it was agreed that, in exchange for Iran taking certain voluntary measures to ensure that its nuclear program is used only for peaceful purposes, the U.S. and EU would voluntarily suspend certain sanctions for a period of six months.
 
On January 20, 2014, the U.S. and E.U. indicated that they would begin implementing the temporary relief measures provided for under the JPOA. These measures included, among other things, the suspension of certain sanctions on the Iranian petrochemicals, precious metals, and automotive industries from January 20, 2014 until July 20, 2014. The JPOA was subsequently extended twice.
On July 14, 2015, the P5+1 and the EU announced that they reached a landmark agreement with Iran titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's Nuclear Program (the "JCPOA"), which is intended to significantly restrict Iran's ability to develop and produce nuclear weapons for 10 years while simultaneously easing sanctions directed toward non-U.S. persons for conduct involving Iran, but taking place outside of U.S. jurisdiction and does not involve U.S. persons.  On January 16, 2016 ("Implementation Day"), the United States joined the EU and the UN in lifting a significant number of their nuclear-related sanctions on Iran following an announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency ("IAEA") that Iran had satisfied its respective obligations under the JCPOA.
U.S. sanctions prohibiting certain conduct that is now permitted under the JCPOA have not actually been repealed or permanently terminated at this time.  Rather, the U.S. government has implemented changes to the sanctions regime by: (1) issuing waivers of certain statutory sanctions provisions; (2) committing to refrain from exercising certain discretionary sanctions authorities; (3) removing certain individuals and entities from OFAC's sanctions lists; and (4) revoking certain Executive Orders and specified sections of Executive Orders.  These sanctions will not be permanently "lifted" until the earlier of "Transition Day," set to occur on October 20, 2023, or upon a report from the IAEA stating that all nuclear material in Iran is being used for peaceful activities. On October 13, 2017, the U.S. President announced he would not certify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.  This did not withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA or reinstate any sanctions.  However, the President must periodically review sanctions waivers and his refusal to do so could result in the reinstatement of certain sanctions suspended under the JCPOA.
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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. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities in countries subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries, or engaging in operations associated with those countries pursuant to contracts with third-parties that are unrelated to those countries or entities controlled by their governments. 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. 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 soon be the subject of sanctions imposed by the U.S.  and/or the EU or other international bodies in 2014 in response to recent 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, we may suffer reputational harm and our results of operations may be adversely affected.
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 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 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.
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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:
 
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our payment of cash distributions to our unitholders;
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actual or anticipated fluctuations in quarterly and annual results;
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fluctuations in the seaborne transportation industry, including fluctuations in the LNG carrier market;
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mergers and strategic alliances in the shipping industry;
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changes in governmental regulations or maritime self-regulatory organization standards;
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shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecasted by securities analysts; announcements concerning us or our competitors;
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the failure of securities analysts to publish research about us, or analysts making changes in their financial estimates;
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general economic conditions;
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terrorist acts;
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future sales of our units or other securities;
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investors' perception of us and the LNG shipping industry;
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the general state of the securities market; and
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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.
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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. 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.
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. 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."
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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, 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.
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.
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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, 2017, we had total outstanding long-term debt of $727.6 million, consisting of amounts outstanding under our $480.0 million senior secured term loan which we entered into in May 2017, or the Term Loan B, and our 2019 Notes. 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. 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 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.  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. In addition, any downgrade of our credit ratings could, among other things, adversely affect the availability of other new financing on favorable terms, if at all, and could increase our cost of borrowing which could materially affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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.
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, mainly to ensure 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. For example, our Term Loan B, which is secured by, among other, first priority mortgages on the six vessels in our Fleet, requires maintenance of a loan to value ratio that does not exceed a specified percentage. 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, 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.
In addition, certain of our debt agreements require us to satisfy certain other financial covenants, including maintenance of minimum free cash levels, minimum debt service coverage ratio, minimum net worth and a maximum leverage ratio.
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 when an event of default exists, as applicable;
·
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;
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·
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, including the minimum quarterly distributions on our common units and quarterly distributions on our Series A Preferred Units, finance our future operations or capital requirements, make acquisitions or pursue business opportunities.
Events of default under the Term Loan B 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.
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."
Our subsidiaries conduct the substantial majority of our operations and own our operating assets, and the right to receive payments on our 2019 Notes is structurally subordinated to the rights of the lenders of our subsidiaries.
Our subsidiaries conduct the substantial majority of our operations and own our operating assets. As a result, our ability to make required payments on our 2019 Notes depends in part on the operations of our subsidiaries and our subsidiaries' ability to make distributions to us. To the extent our subsidiaries are unable to distribute, or are restricted from distributing, funds to us, we may be unable to fulfill our obligations under our 2019 Notes. Our subsidiaries are separate and distinct legal entities and have no obligation, contingent or otherwise, to pay amounts due on our 2019 Notes or to make funds available for that purpose. Our 2019 Notes are not be guaranteed by any of our subsidiaries or any other person.
The rights of holders of our 2019 Notes are structurally subordinated to the rights of our subsidiaries' lenders. A default by a subsidiary under its debt obligations would result in a block on distributions from the affected subsidiary to us. Our 2019 Notes are effectively junior to all existing and future liabilities of our subsidiaries. In the event of a bankruptcy, liquidation or reorganization of any of our subsidiaries, creditors of our subsidiaries will generally be entitled to payment of their claims from the assets of those subsidiaries before any assets are made available for distribution to us.

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Our 2019 Notes are unsecured obligations and are subordinated to our secured debt.
Our 2019 Notes are unsecured and therefore are effectively subordinated to any secured debt we maintain or may incur to the extent of the value of the assets securing the debt. In the event of a bankruptcy or similar proceeding involving us, the assets that serve as collateral will be available to satisfy the obligations under any secured debt before any payments are made on our 2019 Notes. As of December 31, 2017, we had $477.6 million of outstanding secured indebtedness. We will continue to have the ability to incur additional secured debt, subject to limitations in our credit facilities and the indenture governing our 2019 Notes. In addition, our 2019 Notes mature on October 30, 2019. If we are unable to refinance the 2019 Notes prior to maturity, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the 2019 Notes at maturity and if we cannot demonstrate our ability to refinance the 2019 Notes prior to their intended maturity our ability to continue as a going concern could be put into doubt.

Your investment in our 2019 Notes is subject to our credit risk.

Our Notes are unsecured general obligations of ours and are not, either directly or indirectly, an obligation of any third party. Any payment to be made on our 2019 Notes, including the return of the principal amount at maturity or any redemption date, as applicable, depends on our ability to satisfy our other debt obligations as they come due. As a result, our actual and perceived creditworthiness may affect the market value of our 2019 Notes and, in the event we were to default on our obligations, you may not receive the amounts owed to you under the terms of our Notes.

We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to purchase our 2019 Notes as required upon a change of control, and our existing and future debt may contain limitations on our ability to purchase our 2019 Notes.
Following the occurrence of a change of control event, as such is defined in the 2019 Notes indenture and supplement thereto, holders of our 2019 Notes have the right, at their option, to require us to purchase their Notes for cash. A change of control may also constitute an event of default or prepayment under, and result in the acceleration of the maturity of, our then existing indebtedness. We cannot assure you that we will have sufficient financial resources, or will be able to arrange financing, to pay the change of control purchase price in cash with respect to any 2019 Notes surrendered by holders for purchase upon a change of control. In addition, restrictions in our then existing credit facilities or other indebtedness, if any, may not allow us to purchase the 2019 Notes upon a change of control. Our failure to purchase the 2019 Notes upon a change of control when required would result in an event of default with respect to the 2019 Notes which could, in turn, constitute a default under the terms of our other indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and purchase the 2019 Notes and this could materially affect our financial condition.

Some significant restructuring transactions may not constitute a change of control, in which case we would not be obligated to offer to purchase our 2019 Notes.


Following the occurrence of a change of control event, as such is defined in the 2019 Notes indenture and supplement thereto, holders of our 2019 Notes will have the right, at their option, to require us to purchase their Notes for cash. However, the change of control provisions will not afford protection to holders of our 2019 Notes in the event of certain transactions that could adversely affect the 2019 Notes. For example, certain recapitalizations, refinancings or restructurings would not constitute a change of control requiring us to repurchase the 2019 Notes. In the event of any such transaction, holders of the 2019 Notes would not have the right to require us to purchase their Notes, even though each of these transactions could increase the amount of our indebtedness, or otherwise adversely affect our capital structure or any credit ratings, thereby adversely affecting holders of the 2019 Notes.

Risks Relating to our Series A Preferred Units

Our Series A Preferred Units are subordinate to our indebtedness, and the interests of holders of Series A Preferred units could be diluted by the issuance of additional preferred units, including additional Series A Preferred Units, and by other transactions.
Our Series A 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 in liquidation or otherwise may be subject to prior payments due to the holders of our indebtedness.
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The issuance of additional limited partner interests on a parity with or senior to our Series A Preferred Units would dilute the interests of the holders of our Series A Preferred Units, 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. No provisions relating to our Series A Preferred Units protect the holders of our Series A Preferred Units 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.
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 is greater than the 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 you have extremely limited voting rights.
Your voting rights as a holder of Series A 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 generally have no voting rights. However, in the event that six quarterly distributions, whether consecutive or not, payable on Series A Preferred Units or any other parity securities (if applicable), are in arrears, the holders of Series A 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 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 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 have been paid in full.
Market interest rates may adversely affect the value of our Series A Preferred Units.
One of the factors that will influence the price of our Series A Preferred Units will be the distribution yield on the Series A Preferred Units (as a percentage of the price of our Series A Preferred Units) relative to market interest rates. An increase in market interest rates may lead prospective purchasers of our Series A Preferred Units to expect a distribution yield higher than what is paid on our Series A 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 to decrease.
The Series A 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. 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.
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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 43.9% 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. 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 may arise between our Sponsor and its affiliates on one hand, and us and our unitholders, on the other hand. As a result of these conflicts, our Sponsor and its affiliates may favor their own interests over the interests of our unitholders. 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. 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;
·
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.
·
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.
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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.
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.

Our general partner, as the holder of all of the IDRs, may elect to cause us to issue additional common units to it in connection with a resetting of the target distribution levels related to our general partner's IDRs without the approval of the conflicts committee of our board of directors or holders of our common units. This may result in lower distributions to holders of our common units in certain situations.

Our general partner, as the holder of all of the incentive distribution rights, has the right, at a time when our general partner has received incentive distributions at the highest level to which it is entitled (49.9%) for each of the prior four consecutive fiscal quarters, to reset the initial cash target distribution levels at higher levels based on the distribution at the time of the exercise of the reset election. Following a reset election by our general partner, the minimum quarterly distribution amount will be reset to an amount equal to the average cash distribution amount per common unit for the two fiscal quarters immediately prior to the reset election (such amount is referred to as the "reset minimum quarterly distribution"), and the target distribution levels will be reset to correspondingly higher levels based on certain percentage increases above the reset minimum quarterly distribution amount.

In connection with resetting these target distribution levels, our general partner will be entitled to receive a number of common units equal to that number of common units whose aggregate quarterly cash distributions equaled the average of the distributions to our general partner on the IDRs in the prior two quarters. We anticipate that our general partner would exercise this reset right in order to facilitate acquisitions or internal growth projects that would not be sufficiently accretive to cash distributions per common unit without such conversion; however, it is possible that our general partner could exercise this reset election at a time when it is experiencing, or may be expected to experience, declines in the cash distributions it receives related to its IDRs and may therefore desire to be issued our common units, rather than retain the right to receive incentive distributions based on the initial target distribution levels. As a result, a reset election may cause our common unitholders to experience dilution in the amount of cash distributions that they would have otherwise received had we not issued additional common units to our general partner in connection with resetting the target distribution levels related to our general partner's IDRs.
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Common unitholders 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, will not grant to the unitholders, 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"
37



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, 2017, 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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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.
38



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 29, 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 the Omnibus Agreement 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 certain identified LNG carriers or our Sponsor's ownership interest in each of the five entities that respectively own such LNG carriers, which we refer to throughout this Annual Report as the "Additional Optional Vessels," as applicable, and our Sponsor's ownership interest in the entities that own each of the four LNG carriers, 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" and together with the Additional Optional Vessels, the "Optional Vessels." Please see "—Optional Vessels" for a description of these vessels.
As of the date of this Annual Report, we have outstanding 35,490,000 common units, 35,526 general partner units and 3,000,000 9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units, or the Series A Preferred Units. Our Sponsor currently beneficially owns approximately 44.0% of the equity interests in the Partnership (excluding the Series A 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.  In addition, we have outstanding $250.0 million aggregate principal amount 6.25% Senior Notes due 2019, or our 2019 Notes.  Our common units, our Series A Preferred Units and our 2019 Notes trade on the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, under the symbols "DLNG", "DLNG PR A", and "DLNG 19", respectively.
Securities Offerings (following the IPO)
In June 2014, we completed our underwritten public offering of 4,800,000 common units at $22.79 common per unit, and on June 18, 2014, the underwriters in the offering exercised their option to purchase an additional 720,000 common units at the same price.
In September 2014, we completed our underwritten public offering of $250.0 million aggregate principal amount 6.25% Senior Notes due 2019, or our 2019 Notes.  The 2019 Notes commenced trading on the NYSE on December 30, 2014 under the ticker symbol "DLNG 19."
In July 2015, we completed our underwritten public offering of 3,000,000 9.00% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Units at $25.00 per unit. Our Series A Preferred Units trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol "DLNG PR A."
Vessel Acquisitions
In June 2014, we completed the acquisition of the Arctic Aurora, a 2013-built ice class liquefied natural gas carrier, and the related time charter contract, from our Sponsor, pursuant to our right to acquire this vessel under the Omnibus Agreement in effect at that time, for a purchase price of $235.0 million. We funded the purchase price of this vessel using the net proceeds we received in the June 2014 offering of common units together with the proceeds we received from our $340 million senior secured revolving credit facility, which certain of our subsidiaries entered into with an affiliate of Credit Suisse (USA) LLC in 2014 and which has since been repaid in full, or our $340 Million Credit Facility.
In September 2014, we completed the acquisition of the Yenisei River, a 2013-built ice class liquefied natural gas carrier, and the related time charter contract, from our Sponsor, pursuant to our right to acquire this vessel under the Omnibus Agreement in effect at that time, for a purchase price of $257.5 million. We funded the purchase price of this vessel using the net proceeds we received from our 2019 Notes offering, together with cash on hand.
In December 2015, we acquired the Lena River, a 2013-built ice class liquefied natural gas carrier, and the related time charter contract, from our Sponsor, pursuant to our right to acquire this vessel under the Omnibus Agreement in effect at that time, for a purchase price of $240.0 million. We funded the purchase price using the net proceeds we received from our offering of Series A Preferred Units, cash on hand and borrowings under our $200 million senior secured loan facility, which two of our vessel-owning subsidiaries entered into in December 2015 with ABN Amro NV and which has since been repaid in full, or our $200 Million Term Loan Facility.
39



Term Loan B

On May 18, 2017, we refinanced and repaid in full our $340 Million Credit Facility and our $200 Term Loan Facility with a new $480.0 million institutional senior secured term loan B due in 2023, or the Term Loan B. Arctic LNG Carriers Ltd. and Dynagas Finance LLC, our wholly-owned subsidiaries, serve as co-borrowers under the Term Loan B. The Term Loan B bears interest at LIBOR plus a margin and provides for 0.25% quarterly amortization on the principal and a bullet payment at maturity, in May 2023. The Term Loan B is secured by, among other things, the six LNG carriers in our Fleet.

In connection with the Term Loan B refinancing transaction, and pursuant to a contribution and conveyance agreement by and among us and certain of our wholly-owned subsidiaries, dated May 18, 2017, or the Contribution and Conveyance Agreement, (i) Dynagas Equity Holding Ltd., our wholly-owned subsidiary, which we refer to as Dynagas Equity, contributed its equity interests in (which represented 100% of the issued and outstanding share capital) of four of our vessel-owning subsidiaries to Arctic LNG Carriers Ltd., or Arctic LNG Carriers, and (ii) Quinta Group Corp. and Pelta Holdings S.A., our wholly-owned subsidiaries which then owned all of the outstanding share capital of two of our vessel owning subsidiaries, respectively, each contributed the entire share capital of its respective owned entity to Arctic LNG Carriers and were subsequently dissolved. As Dynagas Equity became the sole shareholder of Arctic LNG Carriers, the contributions did not result in a change of control of our business. Arctic LNG Carriers and Dynagas Finance LLC serve as borrowers under the Term Loan B.
For more information, please see "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Our Borrowing Activities."
Our principal executive offices are located at 23, Rue Basse, 98000 Monaco and our telephone number at that address is +377 9999 6445.
B.     BUSINESS OVERVIEW
We are a growth-oriented limited partnership focused on owning and operating LNG carriers.  Five of the six vessels in our Fleet are currently employed on multi-year time charters, which we define as charters of two years or more, with international energy companies, such as Gazprom and Statoil, providing us with the benefits of fixed-fee contracts, predictable cash flows and high utilization rates. We currently employ our one remaining LNG carrier on the short-term market on charter to PetroChina prior to its anticipated delivery to Gazprom in July 2018, when it will commence employment under a charter with term of approximately eight years. We believe our charterers place high confidence and reliance in our shipping services based on long expertise and the safe way in which we conduct our operations.
Since the end of the first fiscal year following our IPO, which occurred in November 2013, we have increased our quarterly distribution from $0.1746 per unit on a prorated basis for the period from the closing of our IPO through December 31, 2017, to $0.4225 per unit with respect to the quarter ended December 31, 2017. The timing and amount of future distributions to our unitholders is subject to change and may be decreased or increased in the future. Please see "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—B. Liquidity and Capital Resources—Distributions."
We intend to leverage the reputation, expertise and relationships with our charterers, our Sponsor and our Manager in growing our core business and pursuing further business and growth opportunities in transportation of energy or other energy-related projects including floating storage regassification units, floating power plants, 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. We believe that the options and rights provide to us under the Omnibus Agreement with our Sponsor provide us with significant built-in growth opportunities. 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 that we may acquire, and, subject to favorable market conditions, we may raise capital in the public or private markets, including through debt or equity offerings of our securities. 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".
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Our Fleet
As of March 8, 2018, 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 subsequently acquired from our Sponsor the Arctic Aurora, the Yenisei River, and the Lena River, which we collectively refer to as our "Fleet." As of  March 8, 2017, the vessels in our Fleet had an average age of 7.6 years and are contracted under multi-year charters with an average remaining charter term of approximately 10.3 years, including the charter agreements into which we have already entered but whose terms have not yet commenced. The charter agreements with Yamal for the Yenisei River and the Lena River are subject to important conditions, which, unless satisfied, may result in the cancellation of the charter agreement at the charterer's option, in which case we would not realize any revenues under such charter agreements.
Since the end of the first fiscal 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% whereas, we have increased our Fleet's estimated contract backlog from approximately $282 million to $1.48 billion and estimated wide average remaining charter duration from 3.3 years to 10.3 years.
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 January 31, 2018, only sixteen LNG carriers, representing 3.5% 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 only two LNG 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;
·
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 January 31, 2018, there were only 56 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 48 have membrane cargo containment system. There were four LNG carriers in the same size segment in the order book, all of which are expected to have a moss spherical containment system, a well-established spherical containment system designed in Norway which has been in use for many years.
41




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
PetroChina
 
May 2018
   
June 2018
     
n/a
 
                   
Gazprom
 
March 2026
   
April 2026 (1)
     
n/a
 
Ob River
2007
   
149,700
 
Yes
Steam
Gazprom
 
April 2018
   
May 2018
     
n/a
 
                   
Gazprom
 
March 2028
   
May 2028 (2)
     
n/a
 
Amur River
2008
   
149,700
 
Yes
Steam
Gazprom
 
June 2028
   
August 2028
     
n/a
 
Arctic Aurora
2013
   
155,000
 
Yes
TFDE *
Statoil
 
July 2021
   
September 2021(3)
   
September 2023
(3) 
Yenisei River
2013
   
155,000
 
Yes
TFDE *
Gazprom
 
July 2018
   
August 2018
     
n/a
 
                   
Yamal
   
2033
     
2034
     
2049
(4) 
Lena River
2013
   
155,000
 
Yes
TFDE *
Gazprom
 
September 2018
   
October 2018
     
n/a
 
                   
Yamal
   
2034
     
2035
     
2049/2050
(4) 
*          As used in this Annual Report, "TFDE" refers to tri-fuel diesel electric propulsion system.
(1)
In October 2016, we entered into a time charter contract with Gazprom for the employment of the Clean Energy for a firm period of seven years and nine months. The charter is expected to commence in July 2018.
(2)
Upon its current contract expiration with Gazprom, the Ob River is expected to commence employment under a new multi-year time charter contract with the same charterer for a firm period of ten years.
(3)
In December 2017, we entered into a time charter contract with Statoil for the employment of the Arctic Aurora. This charter will be in direct continuation of the vessel's current charter with Statoil (interrupted only by the vessel's mandatory statutory class five-year special survey and dry-docking) and will have a firm period of three years +/- 30 days. Statoil will have the option to extend the charter term by two consecutive 12-month periods at escalated rates.
(4)
The Yenisei River and the Lena River are each contracted to commence employment with Yamal within six months and one year delivery windows starting from January 1, 2019 and July 1, 2019, respectively. We expect that these delivery windows will be narrowed, subject to our agreement with Yamal. The charter contracts for these two vessels with Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project each have an initial term of 15 years, which may each be extended by three consecutive periods of five years. Each of these time charter contracts is subject to important conditions, which, if not satisfied, or waived by the charterer, may result in their cancellation, early termination or amendment, before or after their charter term commences, in which case, we may not receive the contracted revenues thereunder.

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 up to seven LNG carrier vessels within a specified period of time following their delivery to our Sponsor and at a purchase price to be determined pursuant to the terms and conditions of that agreement, which we refer to as the Initial Optional Vessels.
In addition, following an amendment to the Omnibus Agreement in April 2016, we also have the right to acquire from our Sponsor its interest, which is currently 49%, in each of the five entities that each owns a 172,000 cubic meter ARC7 LNG carrier, either on water or currently under construction, which we refer to as the Additional Optional Vessels, subject to the terms and conditions of the Omnibus Agreement, as amended.  Two of the Additional Optional Vessels have been delivered to the joint venture in which our Sponsor participates by 49% in the fourth quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018. The remaining three Additional Optional Vessels are scheduled to be delivered in the first quarter of 2019.  We refer to the Initial Optional Vessels and the Additional Optional Vessels, together, as the Optional Vessels.
42



We may exercise our right to purchase each of the Optional Vessels for a specified period following the date of delivery of such vessel from the shipyard, or as otherwise mutually extended by the parties to the Agreement.  For additional information, please see "—Rights to Purchase Optional Vessels" and "Item 7. Major Unitholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions."
Initial Optional Vessels
As of the date of this Annual Report, we have purchased from our Sponsor and have taken delivery of three of the Initial Optional Vessels: the Arctic Aurora in June 2014, the Yenisei River in September 2014, and the Lena River in December 2015. Our Sponsor owns, directly or indirectly, 100% of the equity interests of the entities that own the four remaining Initial Optional Vessels.  One of the four remaining Initial Optional Vessels, the Clean Ocean, is operating under a multi-year time charter with Cheniere, after which time, it is scheduled to commence employment under a long-term time charter for the Yamal LNG Project. Three of the Initial Optional Vessels, the Clean Planet, Clean Horizon, and Clean Vision, currently operate in an LNG carrier pool, or the Cool Pool, that was established on October 1, 2015, by our Manager, Golar LNG Limited and Gaslog Carriers Ltd., with a view to optimizing the operation of the pool vessels through improved scheduling, efficiencies and common marketing of the pooled vessels. Vessels operating in the Cool Pool are employed in the LNG spot market on charters of twelve months or less. Together with our Sponsor's three vessels, the Cool Pool currently consists of 18 LNG carriers.  In 2019, the Clean Planet, Clean Horizon, and Clean Vision are scheduled to commence employment under long-term charters with Yamal.
Additional Optional Vessels
In August 2015, our Sponsor and two unrelated third-parties, Sinotrans and China LNG Shipping, entered into a joint venture, pursuant to which they agreed to share in the ownership and operation of the Additional Optional Vessels. Our Sponsor currently owns a 49% ownership interest in each of the five entities that each owns an Additional Optional Vessel, and Sinotrans and China LNG Shipping equally split the remaining 51% ownership interest of each such entity. Three of the Additional Optional Vessels are currently under construction at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., or "DSME".  Two of the Additional Optional Vessels were delivered to the joint venture in the fourth quarter of 2017 and first quarter of 2018 and three of the Additional Optional Vessels are expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2019. Upon each of their deliveries, the Additional Optional Vessels are scheduled to commence employment under long-term charters for the Yamal LNG Project. Our Manager will provide vessel management services for the Additional Optional Vessels.
Our Sponsor currently owns a 49.0% ownership interest in each of the five entities that each owns an Additional Optional Vessel, and Sinotrans and China LNG Shipping equally split the remaining 51.0% ownership interest of each such entity. Under the Omnibus Agreement, we have the right, subject to certain conditions, to acquire our Sponsor's ownership interest in each of the five entities referenced above that respectively own the Additional Optional Vessels.
Specifications of the Optional Vessels
Each of the Optional Vessels has or is expected to have Ice Class designation, or its equivalent, for hull and machinery. The Initial Optional Vessels are equipped with a membrane containment system. The compact and efficient utilization of the hull structure reduces the required principal dimensions of the vessel compared to earlier LNG designs and results in relatively higher fuel efficiency and smaller quantities of LNG required for cooling down vessels' tanks. In addition, the Initial Optional Vessels are equipped with a tri-fuel diesel electric propulsion system, which is expected to reduce both fuel costs and emissions.

The five 172,000 cubic meter ARC7 Additional Optional 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. The Additional Optional Vessels are equipped with three Azipod propulsion units of 45 megawatt joint capability, which is comparable to the capability of a nuclear icebreaker.
43



The following table provides certain information about the Optional Vessels as of the date of this Annual Report.
 
Vessel Name
Shipyard(4)
 
Delivery
Date
   
Cargo Capacity
Cbm
 
Ice
Class
 
Charter
Commencement
 
Pool / Charterer
 
Earliest
Charter
Expiration
 
Initial Optional Vessels:
                             
Clean Ocean(1)
HHI
   
Q2-2014
     
162,000
 
Yes
   
Q2 2015
 
Cheniere & Yamal
   
2035
 
Clean Planet(2)
HHI
   
Q3-2014
     
162,000
 
Yes
   
2019
 
Cool Pool & Yamal
   
2034
 
Clean Horizon(2)
HHI
   
Q3-2015
     
162,000
 
Yes
   
2019
 
Cool Pool & Yamal
   
2034
 
Clean Vision(2)
HHI
   
Q1-2016
     
162,000
 
Yes
   
2019
 
Cool Pool & Yamal
   
2034
 
Additional Optional Vessels*:
                                     
Boris Vilkitsky (3)
DSME
   
Q4-2017
     
172,410
 
Yes
   
2017
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
 
Fedor Litke (3)
DSME
   
Q1-2018
     
172,410
 
Yes
   
2018
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
 
Hull No.2427(3)
DSME
   
Q1-2019
     
172,410
 
Yes
   
2019
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
 
Hull No.2428(3)
DSME
   
Q1-2019
     
172,410
 
Yes
   
2019
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
 
Hull No.2429(3)
DSME
   
Q1-2019
     
172,410
 
Yes
   
2019
 
Yamal
   
Q4-2045
 

*
Our Sponsor directly or indirectly owns a 49.0% interest in these vessels.
(1)
Following the expiration of the time charter with Cheniere, this vessel is contracted to be employed under a long term time charter for the Yamal LNG project, for a period of 15 years, which may be extended by three consecutive five-year optional periods.
(2)
Vessel is contracted to commence employment within 2019 under long term charters for the Yamal LNG Project for an initial term of 15 years, which may be extended by three consecutive periods of five years each.
(3)
Upon its delivery from the shipyard, vessel operates/will operate under a fixed rate time charter contract for the Yamal LNG Project until December 31, 2045, plus two consecutive five-year extension options.
(4)
As used in this Annual Report, "HHI" refers to the shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd and "DSME" refers to the shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.
Rights to Purchase the Optional Vessels
Under the Omnibus Agreement, we have the right, subject to certain conditions, to purchase from our Sponsor the Initial Optional Vessels and our Sponsor's ownership interest in the entities that respectively own the Additional Optional Vessels at a purchase price to be determined pursuant to the terms and conditions of the Omnibus Agreement. The purchase rights relating to the Initial Optional Vessels each expired 24 months following the respective delivery of each Initial Optional Vessel from the shipyard, but have since been extended by mutual agreement with our Sponsor and the approval of our Conflicts Committee. With respect to the Clean Ocean and the Clean Planet, we have agreed with our Sponsor to extend the purchase option deadlines until March 31, 2018 and we expect that we may agree with our Sponsor to further extend these deadlines. With respect to the Clean Horizon and Clean Vision, we have agreed with our Sponsor to extend the purchase option deadlines to December 31, 2018. The remaining Initial Optional Vessels have been financed by our Sponsor under sale leaseback arrangements. Pursuant to the terms of our Sponsor's existing sale leaseback arrangements, which would require us to assume, among other things, such sale leaseback arrangements and fulfill certain other conditions, we may exercise our right to purchase each of the Initial Optional Vessels pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement.
With respect to our Sponsor's ownership interest in the entities that own the Additional Optional Vessels, our purchase rights expire within 24 months following the expiration, without acceptance, of our 30-day option to purchase such interests pursuant to the Omnibus Agreement, so long as such Additional Optional Vessels are employed under a long-term charter of four or more years upon their respective delivery dates). 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.
44



If we are unable to agree with our Sponsor on the purchase price of any of the Initial Optional Vessels or our Sponsor's ownership interest in the entities that respectively own the Additional 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 Initial Optional Vessels or our Sponsor's ownership interest in the Additional Optional Vessels, as the case may be, 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.
Our Sponsor has secured financing for the Initial Optional Vessels and, our Sponsor, together with its joint venture partners, has secured financing for the Additional 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 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. As of the date of this Annual Report, we have not secured any financing in connection with the potential acquisition of any of the remaining 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 its loan agreements, our business and expected plans for growth 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 Ob River, Yenisei River, Amur River and the Lena River are currently employed with Gazprom under time charter contracts with an average remaining term of approximately 5.3 years as of March 8, 2018, based on the earliest redelivery under our charters. The Ob River is further contracted to Gazprom for a charter term of 10 years, upon the expiration of its current charter in the second quarter of 2018.
The Yenisei River and the Lena River are expected to be redelivered to us under their current charters at the earliest in July and September 2018, respectively, and are expected to commence employment under their new charters with Yamal within six months and one year delivery windows starting from January 1, 2019 and July 1, 2019, respectively. We expect that these delivery windows will be narrowed, subject to our agreement with Yamal. The charters for these two vessels with Yamal in the Yamal LNG Project each have an initial term of 15 years, which may be extended for three consecutive periods of five years. These charter contracts are subject to important conditions, which, if not satisfied, or waived by the charterer, may result in cancellation, early termination, or amendment of the charter, before or after their charter term commences, in which case we may not receive the contracted revenues under such charter agreements.  These conditions include, but are not limited to, requirements with respect to our Sponsor and certain of its affiliates, which may be outside of our control. We can provide no assurance that these two vessels will be able to commence employment under the Yamal LNG Project charter agreements or realize any revenues under such charter agreements.
On December 20, 2017, we entered into a new three year charter agreement with Statoil for the employment of the Arctic Aurora. The new Statoil charter is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2018 in direct continuation of the vessel's current charter with Statoil (interrupted only by the vessel's mandatory statutory class five-year special survey and dry-docking) and will have a firm period of about 3 years +/- 30 days. Statoil will have the option to extend the charter term by two consecutive 12-month periods at escalated rates.
45



In April 2017, the Clean Energy was redelivered to us by Shell at which time we entered into consecutive short-term charters to employ the vessel. In October 2017, we delivered the Clean Energy to PetroChina and on December 18, 2017, PetroChina exercised its right to extend the current charter period for the vessel by a minimum period of approximately four months. As of the date of this Annual Report, the Clean Energy is expected to be redelivered to us under the charter, as extended, at the earliest, in May 2018 and at latest, in June 2018, prior to its delivery to Gazprom in July 2018, when the vessel is expected to commence a time charter with a term of approximately eight 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 March 8, 2018 we had estimated contracted revenue backlog of approximately $1.48 billion with average remaining contract duration of 10.3 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; (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.
Overview of Natural Gas Market
Natural gas is one of the key sources of global energy; the others include oil, coal, hydroelectricity 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 total global primary energy consumption has risen from 18% in 1970 to 24% in 2017.
Natural Gas Share of Primary Energy Consumption: 1970-20171
(% – Based On Million Tonnes Oil Equivalent)


(1) Estimate
Source: Industry sources, Drewry
46



Natural gas has a number of advantages that will 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, 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 as compared to coal and oil. The level of carbon dioxide emissions and pollutants from natural gas in power generation are half the level produced from coal.
Natural gas is primarily used in power generation (electricity) and for heating. According to BP statistical review of world energy (June 2017), worldwide natural gas reserves are estimated at 187 trillion cubic meters (cbm), which is enough for 53 years of supply at current rates of consumption. Over the past decade, natural gas consumption has risen 2% per annum, with growth of 5% per annum in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific and 4% per annum in Africa.
In the last decade, a large part of the growth in natural gas consumption has been accounted for by Asia and the Middle East regions, where gas consumption is up nearly 1.6 times between 2007 and 2017.
World Natural Gas Consumption: 1970-20171
(Million Tonnes Oil Equivalent)


(1) Estimate
Source: Industry sources, Drewry
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 across the globe, the geographical disparity between areas of production and areas of consumption has been the principal stimulus of international trade in natural gas.
47



World Natural Gas Production: 1970-20171
(Million Tonnes Oil Equivalent)


(1) Estimate
Source: Industry sources, Drewry

Natural gas production in North America has increased due to the emergence of shale gas reserves and new techniques such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to access and extract these 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 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 gas from the U.Ss has grown and a number of new liquefaction plants are now planned. This price differential, however, has been reduced substantially since 2014, which is attributable to a sharp drop in the LNG prices in the international market, and which has led to delay in some new planned facilities. In the later part of 2017, the price of natural gas in Asia increased steeply following a surge in the Chinese LNG imports. This led to an increase in the price differential between the Asia and the U.S., which prompted arbitrage trade.
48

 
Natural Gas Prices: 2007-2017
(U.S. $ per MMBtu)


Source: Drewry
The LNG Market
To turn natural gas into a 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 a gaseous state. Reducing the volume enables economical storage and transportation by ship over long distances. LNG is transported by 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 shipped by pipeline for distribution to natural gas customers.
 

Source: Drewry
LNG Supply
Globally, 80.7 million tonnes of new LNG production capacity is under construction, 195.7 million tonnes of new LNG production capacity is planned, and 471 million tonnes of speculative LNG production capacity is under consideration, but for which no confirmed plans exist.
49

 
World LNG Production Capacity – January 2018
(Million Tonnes per Annum)

Source: Drewry
As such, LNG production capacity will expand significantly as several new production facilities which are now under construction and due on stream in the next few years. Generally, every additional one million tonnes of LNG productive capacity creates demand for up to two LNG carriers in the 150,000 cbm size range.
In the last decade, more countries have entered the LNG export market. In December 2017, there were 22 producers and exporters of LNG compared with just 13 in 2005. As a result, world trade in LNG has risen from 138 million tonnes in 2005 to an estimated 285 million tonnes in 2017.
LNG Exports: 2005-20171
(Million Tonnes)

 
ALG
USA#
LIB
BRU
UAE
INO
MAL
AUS
QAT
TNT
NIG
OMA
EGY
EQG
NOR
RUS
YMN
PER
FRA
BEL#
ESP#
Papua
Others##
Total
2005
18.7
1.3
0.6
6.7
5.2
23.0
20.8
10.8
19.8
10.2
8.8
6.7
5.1
-
-
-
-
-
 
-
-
-
-
137.8
2006
18.0
1.3
0.5
7.2
5.2
21.6
20.5
13.2
22.7
11.9
12.8
8.4
10.9
-
-
-
-
-
 
-
-
-
-
154.1
2007
18.0
0.9
0.6
6.8
5.5
20.3
21.7
14.8
28.1
13.2
15.4
8.9
9.9
1.0
0.1
-
-
-
 
-
-
-
-
165.3
2008
15.5
0.7
0.4
6.7
5.5
19.6
21.8
14.8
29.0
13.0
15.3
8.0
9.9
4.1
1.6
-
-
-
 
-
-
-
-
165.6
2009
15.3
0.6
0.5
6.4
5.1
19.0
21.6
17.7
36.1
14.4
11.7
8.4
9.4
3.4
2.3
4.8
0.3
-
 
0.2
-
-
-
177.2
2010
14.1
1.2
0.0
6.4
5.8
22.9
22.3
18.5
55.3
15.1
17.4
8.4
7.1
3.8
3.4
9.8
4.0
1.3
 
0.4
-
-
-
217.2
2011
12.5
1.5
0.1
6.9
5.8
21.3
24.3
18.9
74.9
13.8
18.9
8.0
6.3
3.8
2.9
10.5
6.5
3.7
 
0.4
0.5
-
-
241.5
2012
10.5
0.5
-
6.6
5.5
17.5
23.2
20.5
76.7
13.7
19.9
8.2
4.9
3.5
3.3
10.8
5.2
3.9
 
0.3
1.2
-
0.7
236.9
2013
10.9
0.1
-
6.9
5.4
16.4
24.7
22.1
77.0
14.4
16.3
8.4
2.7
3.7
2.8
10.4
7.0
4.1
 
1.1
2.1
-
0.9
237.5
2014
12.6
0.3
-
6.0
5.8
15.8
24.8
23.1
75.5
14.1
18.5
7.8
0.3
3.7
3.9
10.6
6.5
4.2
 
1.1
3.8
3.4
1.5
243.3
2015
11.8
0.6
-
6.4
5.6
16.0
24.9
29.0
77.6
12.4
20.1
7.4
-
3.6
4.4
10.6
1.4
3.6
 
0.9
2.3
7.1
1.4
247.4
2016
11.6
3.2
-
6.0
5.4
15.5
23.4
41.5
76.2
10.4
17.3
7.8
0.5
3.2
4.6
10.2
-
4.0
1.1
-
0.1
7.6
3.2
253.0
2017 (E)
15.5
16.1
-
5.6
5.9
17.3
23.4
56.6
79.4
8.8
16.1
8.0
0.2
3.1
2.5
11.0
-
4.0
1.1
0.0
0.0
8.5
2.0
285.0
% Change 17-16
33.0%
402.1%
-
-6.8%
8.8%
11.4%
-0.3%
36.4%
4.1%
-16.0%
-7.1%
2.4%
-55.6%
-0.4%
-46.0%
7.4%
-
-0.5%
4.0%
-
-100.0%
11.7%
-36.7%
12.6%
# Include re-exports
## Includes re-exports from Brazil, France, Portugal, South Korea, Japan and Greece
(1) Estimate
Source: Drewry
50



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 smaller scale LNG exports from Alaska). However, the entry of Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria and Norway has added a significant regional diversification to LNG exports in the Atlantic basin. Equally, the addition of Oman as an exporter and the rapid expansion of Qatari production have also positioned the Middle East as an increasingly significant player in the global LNG business. Qatar is now the world's largest producer and exporter of LNG, accounting for close to 28% of all trade in LNG.
U.S. LNG exports have ramped up significantly in the last two years, increasing from 3.2 million tonnes in 2016 to 16.1 million tonnes in 2017. The U.S.'s LNG exports have mainly benefited from the Sabine Pass LNG terminal, launched in 2016 with four active trains active by the end of January 2018. Currently, six LNG export terminals are being built in the U.S., (including two more trains at the Sabine Pass LNG terminal), with an aggregate export capacity of 56 million tonnes per annum.  In the fourth quarter of 2017, Russia has started the first phase of its Yamal LNG project in Russia commenced its first phase of production with a nameplate capacity of 5.5 million tonnes. The second train of the Yamal LNG project is expected to start in 2018, and the third train will become operational in 2019. This project will have an overall capacity of 16.5 million tonnes when fully operational.
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 2005, there were 15 countries importing LNG; by December 2017 the number of countries importing LNG increased to 34.
LNG imports by country between 2005 and 2017 are shown in the table below. Despite diversification in the number of importers, Japan, South Korea, and China provide the backbone of LNG trades, collectively accounting for 55% of total LNG imports as of the end of December 2017. China's LNG imports surged in 2017 and it had surpassed South Korea to become the second biggest LNG importing nation. There has also been strong growths of LNG imports by India, Taiwan and Spain due to increasing demand in the power sector in those countries and  a focus by each respective government on and those the use of natural gas as a source of energy to reduce air pollution caused by conventional sources of energy.
The Chinese imports of LNG commenced in 2006, and have grown exponentially from a mere 0.7 million tonnes in 2006 to 38.3 million tonnes in 2017. China's LNG imports expanded by 53% year over year in 2017 as China took steps to shift from coal to natural gas for heating households during the winter. The sharp rise in the China's LNG imports is attributed to its government's stated policy of to increase the share of gas in the overall Chinese energy demand. The Chinese government is taking strong measures to shift from coal to natural gas to reduce pollution. China's 13th Five-Year Plan aims to reduce coal's share in the overall energy mix – from 64% in 2015 to 58% in 2020, while increasing the use of gas from 6% to10% between 2015 and 2020.The increased emphasis on LNG as a source of energy is the result of China's aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, per unit of GDP, by 60-65% between 2005 and 2030.
51



LNG Imports by Country 2005-20171
(Million Tonnes)

Importer
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017 (E)
Argentina
-
-
-
0.3
0.7
1.3
3.2
3.4
4.7
4.8
4.3
3.8
4.3
Belgium
2.2
3.1
2.3
2.1
4.8
4.7
4.8
3.1
1.6
2.1
2.8
2.1
1.0
Brazil
-
-
-
-
0.3
2.0
0.8
2.5
4.1
5.8
5.2
2.2
2.5
Canada
-
-
-
-
0.7
1.5
2.4
1.3
0.8
0.6
0.5
0.2
0.3
Chile
-
-
-
-
0.5
2.2
2.8
3.0
3.0
2.8
3.1
3.1
3.6
China
-
0.7
2.8
3.2
5.6
9.3
12.1
14.6
18.3
19.8
19.1
25.0
38.3
Dom. Rep.
0.2
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.4
0.6
0.7
0.9
1.2
0.9
1.3
1.3
1.5
Egypt
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
2.8
0.6
0.6
France
9.4
10.1
9.5
9.2
9.5
10.2
10.6
7.5
6.4
5.4
4.8
7.0
8.0
Greece
0.3
0.4
0.6
0.7
0.5
0.9
0.9
0.7
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.0
1.1
India
4.4
5.8
7.3
7.9
9.2
8.9
12.5
15.0
12.8
13.8
15.9
16.5
17.7
Indonesia
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.7
1.0
1.6
2.0
2.0
2.3
Israel
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.4
0.3
0.4
0.0
0.0
Italy
1.8
2.3
1.8
1.1
2.1
6.6
6.4
5.2
3.7
3.5
4.3
4.1
5.8
Japan
55.7
59.8
64.8
67.3
62.7
68.2
78.1
86.7
87.0
88.0
86.2
79.2
84.0
Jordan
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
2.9
3.3
3.3
Kuwait
-
-
-
-
0.7
2.0
2.3
2.0
1.6
2.7
2.7
2.7
2.7
Lithuania
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.1
0.4
0.0
0.0
Malaysia
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.1
1.5
1.7
1.6
1.2
1.5
Mexico
-
0.7
1.6
2.6
2.6
4.2
3.0
3.5
5.7
6.8
5.2
4.3
4.4
Netherlands
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.4
0.4
1.1
1.1
Pakistan
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1.1
2.9
3.7
Portugal
1.2
1.4
1.7
1.9
2.1
2.2
2.2
1.5
1.8
1.2
0.7
0.7
1.5
Puerto Rico
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.6
0.6
0.6
0.5
1.0
1.3
1.3
1.2
0.9
1.2
South Korea
22.2
24.9
25.1
26.7
25.1
32.4
36.0
35.9
39.6
37.3
31.9
32.1
37.6
Spain
16.0
17.8
17.7
21.0
19.7
20.1
17.6
14.7
10.9
11.5
9.5
9.6
10.3
Singapore
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.9
1.9
2.2
2.2
2.2
Taiwan
7.0
7.4
8.0
8.8
8.6
10.9
11.9
11.7
12.6
13.2
13.7
14.2
17.9
Thailand
-
-
-
-
-
-
0.7
1.0
1.5
1.4
2.6
3.1
3.4
Turkey
3.6
4.2
4.4
3.9
4.2
5.8
4.5
5.7
4.0
5.3
5.5
5.6
6.4
UAE
-
-
-
-
-
0.1
1.0
1.0
1.1
1.3
1.6
1.5
1.5
UK
0.4
2.6
1.1
0.8
7.5
13.6
18.5
10.0
6.8
6.1
9.4
7.7
5.8
USA
13.0
12.1
15.9
7.3
9.3
8.9
7.3
3.7
2.0
1.2
1.9
1.8
1.7
Africa
                     
7.4
7.3
Other*
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3.4
0.7
World Total
137.8
154.1
165.3
165.6
177.2
217.3
241.5
236.9
237.4
243.3
247.3
253.0
285.0

(1) Estimate
Source: Drewry

52


Further expansion of regasification and terminal import infrastructure which is now underway will support the continued growth in Chinese LNG imports. China is not dissimilar from the U.S. in that it has large deposits of shale gas although geological structures in China are far more complicated. Additionally, China lacks the infrastructure to support the rapid development of domestic gas supplies, creating a demand for imported LNG. Monthly trends in LNG imports among Asian importers between 2005 and December 2017 are shown in the chart below.
Asian LNG Imports: 2005-2017
(Tonnes)


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 pipeline is 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). The conversion into LNG is the only economical and feasible way that natural gas can be transported over long distances. Additionally, sea transportation of LNG is a more flexible solution than 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 50% between 2006 and 2017, with the volume of LNG trade at 1.8 times since 2006. International trade in natural gas accounts for 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.
53



World Natural Gas Trade 2006-20171
(Billion Cubic Meters)

(
(1) Estimate
Source: Drewry
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 2017, the principal trade routes for LNG shipping included: Qatar to Europe (the United Kingdom and Italy), Qatar to Asia (India, Japan, and South Korea), Australia to Asia (China and Japan), and Malaysia to Japan. With the ramping up of the liquefaction projects in the U.S. and Russia, more cargo will be exported from these countries to Europe and Asia.
One important result of the geographical shifts in LNG production and consumption is the higher rate of growth in demand for shipping services, expressed in terms of ton miles, as compared to that of 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 5.9%, compared with a 5.6% increase in the volume of cargo carried.

LNG Seaborne Trade 2005-20171



(1) Estimate
Source: Drewry
54



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.
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 normal operations, the vessels will require strengthened hull structures in anticipation of encounters with various ice interaction loadings.
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).
55



Ice Class LNG Fleet
The number of ships in the international LNG fleet with an ice class standard is very low. As of January 2018, there were only 16 LNG carriers with Ice Class 1A and Ice-Class 1A Super Standard in operation and ten vessels on order.
Northern Sea Route (NSR)
Currently, NSR cargo flows are dominated by oil, gas and mineral exports, particularly coal and ore. Demand for shipping for these commodities in the region has been increasing in recent years, driven by several key factors, including:
·
a reduced level of sea ice has extended the summer shipping season in the Arctic and is making some areas easy to navigate;
·
an 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; 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

As a result, the NSR experienced strong growth in trade volumes between 2010 and 2013, 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.
56



Northern Sea Route — Transit traffic
 
   
2010
   
2011
   
2012
   
2013
   
2014
   
2015
   
2016
 
Number of Vessels
   
4
     
34
     
46
     
71
     
23
     
18
     
19
 
Total Cargo Volume (tons)
   
111,000
     
820,789
     
1,261,545
     
1,355,897
     
274,000
     
39,586
     
214,513
 

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 NSR to Japan is approximately 45% shorter than traditional shipping routes generally sailing through the Suez Canal. The Arctic route allows ships to save on time, fuel, and cut back on environmental emissions.
Russia began production at its Yamal LNG project in December 2017. The Yamal project (located in remote northern Russia, above the Arctic Circle) is expected to add approximately 16.5 million tonnes of LNG to global supply at full operational capacity in 2020. Drewry expects that increased Russian LNG will indirectly reduce demand for conventional LNG vessels because the transportation from Yamal 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 the U.S. is likely to boost Russian exports.
Russia will be able to deliver LNG at a lower price than most of its competitors due to the low feedstock cost of the world's most complex LNG project and the introduction of a shorter shipping route. Furthermore, the project has benefitted from the Russian government's support, including a 12-year exemption from mineral extraction tax, no export taxes on LNG, and government-subsidized construction of the port of Sabetta.
Special Ice-Class LNG vessels will be required to pass the NSR via the Bering Strait, which will enable vessels to reach Asia in 15 days, while the conventional route via the Suez Canal takes 30 days. This, in turn, will benefit importers by reducing the voyage time and transportation expenses.
In general, ships below 1A Ice-Class will not be allowed to trade on NSR, which provides an advantage to vessel owners with ice class tonnage. Furthermore, vessel owners/operators with experience operating in ice conditions will have a competitive advantage over the traditional operators that make occasional voyages into the region during the winter months.
The LNG Fleet
 
LNG carriers are specialist vessels designed to transport LNG between liquefaction facilities and import terminals. They are double-hulled vessels with a sophisticated containment system that holds and insulates LNG to maintain it in liquid form. Any LNG that evaporates during the voyage and converts to a natural gas (normally referred to as boil-off) can be used as fuel to help propel the ship.
Among the existing fleet, there are several different types of containment systems used on LNG carriers, but the two most popular systems are:
·
The Moss Rosenberg spherical system, which was designed in the 1970s and is used by a large portion of the existing LNG fleet. In this system, multiple self-supporting, spherical tanks are built independent of the carrier and arranged inside its hull.
 
·
The Gaz Transport membrane system, which is built inside the carrier and consists of insulation between the thin primary and secondary barriers. The membrane is designed to accommodate thermal expansion and contraction without overstressing the membrane.
However, most new vessels are being built with membrane systems such as the Gaz Transport system. This trend is primarily a result of lower Suez Canal fees and related costs associated with passage through the Suez Canal, often required for many long-haul trade routes. In addition, ships with membrane systems, such as the Gaz Transport membrane system, tend to operate more efficiently with less wind resistance as compared to the ships with Moss Rosenberg systems. Generally, ships with membrane systems achieve better speed due to improved hull utilization, reduced cool down time, and better terminal capacity.
57



LNG Fleet
 
The cargo capacity of an LNG carrier is measured in cbm. As of January 31, 2018, the worldwide fleet totaled 456 ships with a combined capacity of 70.5 million cbm. The breakdown of the fleet by vessel size is shown below.
The LNG Fleet by Vessel Size: January 31, 2018

Size
 
No.
   
000 Cbm
 
18-49,999 cbm
   
6
     
118
 
50-74,999 cbm
   
3
     
205
 
75-124,999 cbm
   
8
     
725
 
125-149,999 cbm
   
206
     
28,625
 
150-199,999 cbm
   
189
     
30,708
 
200-219,999 cbm
   
30
     
6,391
 
220,000+ cbm
   
14
     
3,715
 
Total
   
456
     
70,487
 

Source: Drewry

Within the current worldwide fleet, there are only 16 vessels with ice class certification and these vessels account for close to 3.5% of the global LNG fleet. These ships are a niche part of the market and command a premium over the freight rates of non-ice class vessels.