|ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS PARTNERS L P filed this Form 10-K on 02/28/2018|
Our ability to access capital markets to raise capital on favorable terms could be affected by our debt level, when such debt matures, and by prevailing market conditions. Moreover, if the rating agencies were to downgrade our credit ratings, we could experience an increase in our borrowing costs, difficulty assessing capital markets and/or a reduction in the market price of our securities. Such a development could adversely affect our ability to obtain financing for working capital, capital expenditures or acquisitions, or to refinance existing indebtedness. If we are unable to access the capital markets on favorable terms in the future, we might be forced to seek extensions for some of our short-term debt obligations or to refinance some of our debt obligations through bank credit, as opposed to long-term public debt securities or equity securities. The price and terms upon which we might receive such extensions or additional bank credit, if at all, could be more onerous than those contained in existing debt agreements. Any such arrangements could, in turn, increase the risk that our leverage may adversely affect our future financial and operating flexibility and thereby impact our ability to pay cash distributions at expected levels.
We may not be able to fully execute our growth strategy if we encounter illiquid capital markets or increased competition for investment opportunities.
Our growth strategy contemplates the development and acquisition of a wide range of midstream and other energy infrastructure assets while maintaining a strong balance sheet. This strategy includes constructing and acquiring additional assets and businesses that enhance our ability to compete effectively and to diversify our asset portfolio, thereby providing us with more stable cash flows. We consider and pursue potential joint ventures, standalone projects and other transactions that we believe may present opportunities to expand our business, increase our market position and realize operational synergies.
We will require substantial new capital to finance the future development and acquisition of assets and businesses. For example, our capital spending for 2017 reflected approximately $3.4 billion of cash payments for capital projects and other investments. Based on information currently available, we expect our total capital spending for 2018 to approximate $3.3 billion, which includes approximately $315 million for sustaining capital expenditures. Any limitations on our access to capital may impair our ability to execute this growth strategy. If our cost of debt or equity capital becomes too expensive, our ability to develop or acquire accretive assets will be limited. We also may not be able to raise the necessary funds on satisfactory terms, if at all.
Any sustained tightening of the credit markets may have a material adverse effect on us by, among other things, decreasing our ability to finance growth capital projects or business acquisitions on favorable terms and by the imposition of increasingly restrictive borrowing covenants. In addition, the distribution yields of any new equity we may issue may be higher than historical levels, making additional equity issuances more expensive. Accordingly, increased costs of equity and debt will make returns on capital expenditures with proceeds from such capital less accretive on a per unit basis.
We also may compete with third parties in the acquisition of energy infrastructure assets that complement our existing asset base. Increased competition for a limited pool of assets could result in our losing to other bidders more often than in the past or acquiring assets at less attractive prices. Either occurrence could limit our ability to fully execute our growth strategy. Our inability to execute our growth strategy may materially adversely affect our ability to maintain or pay higher cash distributions in the future.
Our actual construction, development and acquisition costs could materially exceed forecasted amounts.
We have announced and are engaged in multiple significant construction projects involving existing and new assets for which we have expended or will expend significant capital. These projects entail significant logistical, technological and staffing challenges. We may not be able to complete our projects at the costs we estimated at the time of each project’s initiation or that we currently estimate. Similarly, force majeure events such as hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast may cause delays, shortages of skilled labor and additional expenses for these construction and development projects.
If capital expenditures materially exceed expected amounts, then our future cash flows could be reduced, which, in turn, could reduce the amount of cash we expect to have available for distribution. In addition, a material increase in project costs could result in decreased overall profitability of the newly constructed asset once it is placed into commercial service.