Statement No. 83
Certain Asset Retirement Obligations
This Statement addresses accounting and financial reporting for certain asset retirement obligations (AROs). An ARO is a legally enforceable liability associated with the retirement of a tangible capital asset. A government that has legal obligations to perform future asset retirement activities related to its tangible capital assets should recognize a liability based on the guidance in this Statement.
This Statement establishes criteria for determining the timing and pattern of recognition of a liability and a corresponding deferred outflow of resources for AROs. This Statement requires that recognition occur when the liability is both incurred and reasonably estimable. The determination of when the liability is incurred should be based on the occurrence of external laws, regulations, contracts, or court judgments, together with the occurrence of an internal event that obligates a government to perform asset retirement activities. Laws and regulations may require governments to take specific actions to retire certain tangible capital assets at the end of the useful lives of those capital assets, such as decommissioning nuclear reactors and dismantling and removing sewage treatment plants. Other obligations to retire tangible capital assets may arise from contracts or court judgments. Internal obligating events include the occurrence of contamination, placing into operation a tangible capital asset that is required to be retired, abandoning a tangible capital asset before it is placed into operation, or acquiring a tangible capital asset that has an existing ARO.
This Statement requires the measurement of an ARO to be based on the best estimate of the current value of outlays expected to be incurred. The best estimate should include probability weighting of all potential outcomes, when such information is available or can be obtained at reasonable cost. If probability weighting is not feasible at reasonable cost, the most likely amount should be used. This Statement requires that a deferred outflow of resources associated with an ARO be measured at the amount of the corresponding liability upon initial measurement.
This Statement requires the current value of a government’s AROs to be adjusted for the effects of general inflation or deflation at least annually. In addition, it requires a government to evaluate all relevant factors at least annually to determine whether the effects of one or more of the factors are expected to significantly change the estimated asset retirement outlays. A government should remeasure an ARO only when the result of the evaluation indicates there is a significant change in the estimated outlays. The deferred outflows of resources should be reduced and recognized as outflows of resources (for example, as an expense) in a systematic and rational manner over the estimated useful life of the tangible capital asset.
A government may have a minority share (less than 50 percent) of ownership interest in a jointly owned tangible capital asset in which a nongovernmental entity is the majority owner and reports its ARO in accordance with the guidance of another recognized accounting standards setter. Additionally, a government may have a minority share of ownership interest in a jointly owned tangible capital asset in which no joint owner has a majority ownership, and a nongovernmental joint owner that has operational responsibility for the jointly owned tangible capital asset reports the associated ARO in accordance with the guidance of another recognized accounting standards setter. In both situations, the government’s minority share of an ARO should be reported using the measurement produced by the nongovernmental majority owner or the nongovernmental minority owner that has operational responsibility, without adjustment to conform to the liability measurement and recognition requirements of this Statement.
In some cases, governments are legally required to provide funding or other financial assurance for their performance of asset retirement activities. This Statement requires disclosure of how those funding and assurance requirements are being met by a government, as well as the amount of any assets restricted for payment of the government’s AROs, if not separately displayed in the financial statements.
This Statement also requires disclosure of information about the nature of a government’s AROs, the methods and assumptions used for the estimates of the liabilities, and the estimated remaining useful life of the associated tangible capital assets. If an ARO (or portions thereof) has been incurred by a government but is not yet recognized because it is not reasonably estimable, the government is required to disclose that fact and the reasons therefor. This Statement requires similar disclosures for a government’s minority shares of AROs.
The requirements of this Statement are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, . Earlier application is encouraged.
How the Changes in This Statement Will Improve Financial Reporting
This Statement will enhance comparability of financial statements among governments by establishing uniform criteria for governments to recognize and measure certain AROs, including obligations that may not have been previously reported. This Statement also will enhance the decision-usefulness of the information provided to financial statement users by requiring disclosures related to those AROs.
Unless otherwise specified, pronouncements of the GASB apply to financial reports of all state and local governmental entities, including general purpose governments; public benefit corporations and authorities; public employee retirement systems; and public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities. Paragraph 3 discusses the applicability of this Statement.