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Asset Retirement Obligation

Asset Retirement Obligation

In accounting, an asset retirement obligation (ARO) depicts a legal obligation associated with the retirement of a tangible, long-resided asset, where a company will be responsible for eliminating equipment or cleaning up hazardous materials sometime not too far off. AROs ought to be remembered for a company's financial statement to introduce a more accurate and comprehensive snapshot of the undertaking's overall value.

Figuring out Asset Retirement Obligations

Asset retirement obligation accounting frequently applies to companies that make physical infrastructure which must be destroyed before a land lease terminates, for example, underground fuel storage tanks at gas stations. AROs additionally apply to the removal of hazardous components as well as waste materials from the land, for example, nuclear power plant sterilization. The asset is viewed as retired once the clean up/removal activity is complete, and the property is reestablished back to its original condition.

An Example of an Asset Retirement Obligation

Consider an oil-drilling company that procures a 40-year lease on a package of land. Five years into the lease, the company wraps up building a drilling rig. This thing must be eliminated, and the land must be cleaned up once the lease terminates in 35 years. Albeit the current cost for doing so is $15,000, an estimate for inflation for the removal and remediation work throughout the next 35 years is 2.5% each year. Thusly, for this ARO, the assumed future cost after inflation would be calculated as follows: 15,000 * (1 + 0.025) ^ 35 = 35,598.08.

Asset Retirement Obligations Oversight

Since ascertaining asset retirement obligations can be complex, organizations ought to look for guidance from Certified Public Accountants to guarantee compliance with the Financial Accounting Standards Board's Rule No. 143: Accounting for Asset Retirement Obligations. Under this order, public companies must perceive the fair value of their AROs on their balance sheets with an end goal to deliver them more accurate. This addresses to some degree a takeoff from the pay statement approach numerous organizations recently utilized.

Asset Retirement Obligation: Calculating Expected Present Value

To calculate the expected present value of an ARO, companies ought to notice the accompanying iterative advances:

  1. Estimate the timing and cash flows of retirement activities.
  2. Compute the credit-changed risk-free rate.
  3. Note any increase in the carrying amount of the ARO liability as an accretion expense by duplicating the beginning liability by the credit-changed risk-free rate for when the liability was first estimated.
  4. Note whether liability modifications are trending vertically, then, at that point, discount them at the current credit-changed risk-free rate.
  5. Note whether liability amendments are trending lower, then, at that point, discount the reduction at the rate utilized for the initial recognition of the connected liability year.

Asset Retirement Obligations don't have any significant bearing to spontaneous cleanup costs coming about because of impromptu events, like compound spills and different mishaps.


  • Companies are required to detail their AROs on their financial statements to depict their overall values accurately.
  • Asset retirement obligations (ARO) are legal obligations associated with the retirement of substantial, seemingly perpetual assets, where a company must eventually eliminate equipment or clean up hazardous materials from a leased site.
  • ARO rules are administered by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), framed in Rule No. 143: Accounting for Asset Retirement.