Tuesday, January 31, 2012

EZ13 and Asset Retirement Obligations (ARO)

We are delighted to announce the release of a new module for our EZ13 Lease Accounting software. The new module tracks Asset Retirement Obligations. While primarily intended to be used for AROs tied to leases, it can also be used for AROs independently.

Asset Retirement Obligations are legal obligations of a company that take effect at the retirement of an asset. Most commonly, they are involved with restoring the asset to its original (pre-use) condition. One common example is cleanup of a drilling site by an oil/gas driller. Another applies to gas stations, which are required to dig up their underground fuel tanks when the station closes (or when the tank reaches the end of its useful life).

Under FAS 143, now called ASC Topic 410-20, a company must estimate the cost of the asset's retirement, most commonly by determining the current cost and applying an inflation factor to get the future cost. (Even if you expect to take care of the work using internal resources, the ARO must be priced based on hiring the work to be done; if you end up actually using internal resources, you will book a gain at that time.) It then books the present value of that cost (using its "credit-adjusted risk-free rate" for borrowing); the asset is called the Asset Retirement Cost, while the liability is the Asset Retirement Obligation. The ARC is depreciated over the remaining life of the asset, while the ARO is accreted over the same life; that is, an interest-type calculation is made on the liability using the same credit-adjusted risk-free rate, and the accretion expense is added to the liability, so that at the end of the asset's life, the ARO is equal to the expected (after-inflation) cost of retirement.

If you have a lease, the ARO's life is normally the same as the lease life. For an owned asset, the ARO life is typically the useful life of the asset itself.

EZ13 now offers complete ARO accounting as an extra-cost module. Reporting available includes showing ARO information on the income statement/balance sheet detail report, ARO accretion/depreciation tables, and rollforward reports (showing beginning balance, additions, accretion/depreciation, terminations, and ending balance, by lease). ARO components with varying levels of probability are accepted. For more details, including an example of an ARO calculation, please see our ARO page.

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