Description of Securities
DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES
As of December 31, 2019, United States Oil Fund, LP (the “Company,” the “Partnership,” “USO,” “we,” “us” or “our”) had one class of securities registered under Section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended: shares of beneficial interest in the Partnership (the “units”).
Capitalized terms used but not defined herein shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the Annual Report on Form 10-K to which this Description of Securities is attached as an exhibit.
Shares of Beneficial Interest in the Partnership
The statements made under this caption include summaries of certain provisions contained in our Certificate of Limited Partnership, as amended, (the “Certificate”) and the Seventh Amended and Restated Agreement of Limited Partnership, as amended, (the “Partnership Agreement”) and the Sixth Amended and Restated Limited Liability Company Agreement (the USCF Agreement”) of our general partner, United States Commodity Funds LLC (“USCF”), each of which is incorporated by reference as an exhibit to our Annual Report on Form 10-K (the “Annual Report”) of which this Exhibit 4.1 is a part. This summary does not purport to be complete and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the Certificate, the Partnership Agreement and the USCF Agreement, and the applicable provisions of the Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act and Limited Liability Company Act, in each case, of the State of Delaware.
The units are registered as securities under the Securities Act of 1933 (“1933 Act”) and do not provide dividend rights or conversion rights and there are no sinking funds. The units may only be redeemed when aggregated in Redemption Baskets and limited partners will have limited voting rights as discussed under “Who is the General Partner?” Cumulative voting will are not permitted nor required and there are no preemptive rights. As discussed in the Partnership Agreement, upon our liquidation, our assets will be distributed pro rata to limited partners based upon the number of units held. Each limited partner will receive its share of the assets in cash or in kind, and the proportion of such share that is received in cash may vary from partner to partner, as our general partner, United States Commodity Funds LLC (“USCF”), in its sole discretion may decide.
As discussed above, the minimum purchase requirement for Authorized Participants is a Creation Basket, which will consist of 100,000 units. Under the plan of distribution, we do not require a minimum purchase amount for investors who purchase units from Authorized Participants. There are no arrangements to place funds in an escrow, trust, or similar account.
The chart below shows, as of December 31, 2019, the number of Authorized Participants, the total number of baskets created and redeemed since inception and the number of outstanding shares for USO.
# of Authorized
Creation and Redemption of Shares
USO creates and redeems shares from time to time, but only in one or more Creation Baskets or Redemption Baskets. The creation and redemption of baskets are only made in exchange for delivery to USO or the distribution by USO of the amount of Treasuries and any cash represented by the baskets being created or redeemed, the amount of which is based on the combined NAV of the number of shares included in the baskets being created or redeemed determined as of 4:00 p.m. New York time on the day the order to create or redeem baskets is properly received.
Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create and redeem baskets. Authorized Participants must be (1) registered broker-dealers or other securities market participants, such as banks and other financial institutions, that are not required to register as broker-dealers to engage in securities transactions described below, and (2) DTC Participants. To become an Authorized Participant, a person must enter into an Authorized Participant Agreement with USCF. The Authorized Participant Agreement provides the procedures for the creation and redemption of baskets and for the delivery of the Treasuries and any cash required for such creation and redemptions. The Authorized Participant Agreement and the related procedures attached thereto may be amended by USO, without the consent of any limited partner or shareholder or Authorized Participant. Authorized Participants will pay a transaction fee of $1,000 to USO for each order they place to create or redeem one or more
baskets. Authorized Participants who make deposits with USO in exchange for baskets receive no fees, commissions or other form of compensation or inducement of any kind from either USO or USCF, and no such person will have any obligation or responsibility to USCF or USO to effect any sale or resale of shares. As of December 31, 2019, 15 Authorized Participants had entered into agreements with USCF on behalf of USO.
Certain Authorized Participants are expected to be capable of participating directly in the physical crude oil market and the crude oil futures market. In some cases, Authorized Participants or their affiliates may from time to time buy or sell crude oil or Oil Interests and may profit in these instances. USCF believes that the size and operation of the crude oil market make it unlikely that an Authorized Participant’s direct activities in the crude oil or securities markets will significantly affect the price of crude oil, Oil Interests or the price of the shares.
Each Authorized Participant is required to be registered as a broker-dealer under the Exchange Act and is a member in good standing with FINRA, or exempt from being or otherwise not required to be registered as a broker-dealer or a member of FINRA, and qualified to act as a broker or dealer in the states or other jurisdictions where the nature of its business so requires. Certain Authorized Participants may also be regulated under federal and state banking laws and regulations. Each Authorized Participant has its own set of rules and procedures, internal controls and information barriers as it determines is appropriate in light of its own regulatory regime.
Under the Authorized Participant Agreement, USCF, and USO under limited circumstances, have agreed to indemnify the Authorized Participants against certain liabilities, including liabilities under the 1933 Act, and to contribute to the payments the Authorized Participants may be required to make in respect of those liabilities.
The following description of the procedures for the creation and redemption of baskets is only a summary and an investor should refer to the relevant provisions of the Partnership Agreement and the form of Authorized Participant Agreement for more detail, each of which is incorporated by reference into this prospectus.
Determination of Required Deposits
The total deposit required to create each basket (“Creation Basket Deposit”) is the amount of Treasuries and/or cash that is in the same proportion to the total assets of USO (net of estimated accrued but unpaid fees, expenses and other liabilities) on the purchase order date as the number of shares to be created under the purchase order is in proportion to the total number of shares outstanding on the purchase order date. USCF determines, directly in its sole discretion or in consultation with the Administrator, the requirements for Treasuries and the amount of cash, including the maximum permitted remaining maturity of a Treasury and proportions of Treasury and cash that may be included in deposits to create baskets. The Marketing Agent will publish such requirements at the beginning of each business day. The amount of cash deposit required is the difference between the aggregate market value of the Treasuries required to be included in a Creation Basket Deposit as of 4:00 p.m. New York time on the date the order to purchase is properly received and the total required deposit.
Delivery of Required Deposits
An Authorized Participant who places a purchase order is responsible for transferring to USO’s account with the Custodian the required amount of Treasuries and cash by the end of the second business day following the purchase order date. Upon receipt of the deposit amount, the Administrator directs DTC to credit the number of baskets ordered to the Authorized Participant’s DTC account on the second business day following the purchase order date. The expense and risk of delivery and ownership of Treasuries until such Treasuries have been received by the Custodian on behalf of USO shall be borne solely by the Authorized Participant.
Because orders to purchase baskets must be placed by 12:00 p.m., New York time, but the total payment required to create a basket during the continuous offering period will not be determined until after 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the date the purchase order is received, Authorized Participants will not know the total amount of the payment required to create a basket at the time they submit an irrevocable purchase order for the basket. USO’s NAV and the total amount of the payment required to create a basket could rise or fall substantially between the time an irrevocable purchase order is submitted and the time the amount of the purchase price in respect thereof is determined.
Rejection of Purchase Orders
USCF acting by itself or through the Marketing Agent shall have the absolute right but no obligation to reject a purchase order or a Creation Basket Deposit if:
it determines that the investment alternative available to USO at that time will not enable it to meet its investment objective;
it determines that the purchase order or the Creation Basket Deposit is not in proper form;
it believes that the purchase order or the Creation Basket Deposit would have adverse tax consequences to USO, the limited partners or its shareholders;
the acceptance or receipt of the Creation Basket Deposit would, in the opinion of counsel to USCF, be unlawful; or
circumstances outside the control of USCF, Marketing Agent or Custodian make it, for all practical purposes, not feasible to process creations of baskets.
None of USCF, the Marketing Agent or the Custodian will be liable for the rejection of any purchase order or Creation Basket Deposit.
The procedures by which an Authorized Participant can redeem one or more baskets mirror the procedures for the creation of baskets. On any business day, an Authorized Participant may place an order with the Marketing Agent to redeem one or more baskets. Redemption orders must be placed by 12:00 p.m. New York time or the close of regular trading on the NYSE Arca, whichever is earlier. A redemption order so received will be effective on the date it is received in satisfactory form by the Marketing Agent (“Redemption Order Date”). The redemption procedures allow Authorized Participants to redeem baskets and do not entitle an individual shareholder to redeem any shares in an amount less than a Redemption Basket, or to redeem baskets other than through an Authorized Participant.
By placing a redemption order, an Authorized Participant agrees to deliver the baskets to be redeemed through DTC’s book-entry system to USO, as described below. Prior to the delivery of the redemption distribution for a redemption order, the Authorized Participant must also have wired to USO’s account at the Custodian the non-refundable transaction fee due for the redemption order. An Authorized Participant may not withdraw a redemption order, except as otherwise set forth in the procedures in the Authorized Participant Agreement.
The manner by which redemptions are made is dictated by the terms of the Authorized Participant Agreement. By placing a redemption order, an Authorized Participant agrees to (1) deliver the Redemption Basket to be redeemed through DTC’s book-entry system to USO’s account with the Custodian not later than 3:00 p.m. New York time on the second business day following the effective date of the redemption order (“Redemption Distribution Date”), and (2) if required by USCF in its sole discretion, enter into or arrange for a block trade, an exchange for physical or exchange for swap, or any other OTC energy transaction (through itself or a designated acceptable broker) with the fund for the sale of a number and type of futures contracts at the closing settlement price for such contracts on the Redemption Order Date. If an Authorized Participant fails to consummate (1) and (2) above, the order shall be cancelled. The number and type of contracts specified shall be determined by USCF, in its sole discretion, to meet USO’s investment objective and shall be sold as a result of the Authorized Participant’s sale of shares.
Determination of Redemption Distribution
The redemption distribution from USO consists of a transfer to the redeeming Authorized Participant of an amount of Treasuries and/or cash that is in the same proportion to the total assets of USO (net of estimated accrued but unpaid fees, expenses and other liabilities) on the date the order to redeem is properly received as the number of shares to be redeemed under the redemption order is in proportion to the total number of shares outstanding on the date the order is received. USCF, directly or in consultation with the Administrator, determines the requirements for Treasuries and the amounts of cash, including the maximum permitted remaining maturity of a Treasury, and the proportions of Treasuries and cash that may be included in distributions to redeem baskets. The Marketing Agent will publish an estimate of the redemption distribution per basket as of the beginning of each business day.
Delivery of Redemption Distribution
The redemption distribution due from USO will be delivered to the Authorized Participant by 3:00 p.m. New York time on the second business day following the redemption order date if, by 3:00 p.m. New York time on such second business day, USO’s DTC account has been credited with the baskets to be redeemed. If USO’s DTC account has not been credited with all of the baskets to be redeemed by such time, the redemption distribution will be delivered to the extent of whole baskets received. Any remainder of the redemption distribution will be delivered on the next business day to the extent of remaining whole baskets received if USO receives the fee applicable to the extension of the redemption distribution date which USCF may, from time to time, determine and the remaining baskets to be redeemed are credited to USO’s DTC account by 3:00 p.m. New York time on such next business day. Any further outstanding amount of the redemption order shall be cancelled. Pursuant to information from USCF, the Custodian will also be authorized to deliver the redemption distribution notwithstanding that the baskets to be redeemed are not credited to USO’s DTC account by 3:00 p.m. New York time on the second business day following the redemption order date if the Authorized Participant has collateralized its obligation to deliver the baskets through DTC’s book entry-system on such terms as USCF may from time to time determine.
Suspension or Rejection of Redemption Orders
USCF may, in its discretion, suspend the right of redemption, or postpone the redemption settlement date, (1) for any period during which the NYSE Arca or the NYMEX is closed other than customary weekend or holiday closings, or trading on the NYSE Arca or the NYMEX is suspended or restricted, (2) for any period during which an emergency exists as a result of which delivery, disposal or evaluation of Treasuries is not reasonably practicable, or (3) for such other period as USCF determines to be necessary for the protection of the limited partners or shareholders. For example, USCF may determine that it is necessary to suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of USO’s assets at an appropriate value to fund a redemption. If USCF has difficulty liquidating its positions, e.g., because of a market disruption event in the futures markets, a suspension of trading by the exchange where the futures contracts are listed or an unanticipated delay in the liquidation of a position in an over the counter contract, it may be appropriate to suspend redemptions until such time as such circumstances are rectified. None of USCF, the Marketing Agent, the Administrator, or the Custodian will be liable to any person or in any way for any loss or damages that may result from any such suspension or postponement.
Redemption orders must be made in whole baskets. USCF will reject a redemption order if the order is not in proper form as described in the Authorized Participant Agreement or if the fulfillment of the order, in the opinion of its counsel, might be unlawful. USCF may also reject a redemption order if the number of shares being redeemed would reduce the remaining outstanding shares to 100,000 shares (i.e., one basket) or less, unless USCF has reason to believe that the placer of the redemption order does in fact possess all the outstanding shares and can deliver them.
Creation and Redemption Transaction Fee
To compensate USO for its expenses in connection with the creation and redemption of baskets, an Authorized Participant is required to pay a transaction fee to USO of $1,000 per order to create or redeem baskets, regardless of the number of baskets in such order. An order may include multiple baskets. The transaction fee may be reduced, increased or otherwise changed by USCF. USCF shall notify DTC of any change in the transaction fee and will not implement any increase in the fee for the redemption of baskets until thirty (30) days after the date of the notice.
Authorized Participants are responsible for any transfer tax, sales or use tax, stamp tax, recording tax, value added tax or similar tax or governmental charge applicable to the creation or redemption of baskets, regardless of whether or not such tax or charge is imposed directly on the Authorized Participant, and agree to indemnify USCF and USO if they are required by law to pay any such tax, together with any applicable penalties, additions to tax and interest thereon.
Secondary Market Transactions
As noted, USO creates and redeems shares from time to time, but only in one or more Creation Baskets or Redemption Baskets. The creation and redemption of baskets are only made in exchange for delivery to USO or the distribution by USO of the amount of Treasuries and cash represented by the baskets being created or redeemed, the amount of which will be based on the aggregate NAV of the number of shares included in the baskets being created or redeemed determined on the day the order to create or redeem baskets is properly received.
As discussed above, Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create and redeem baskets. Authorized Participants must be registered broker-dealers or other securities market participants, such as banks and other financial institutions that are not required to register as broker-dealers to engage in securities transactions. An Authorized Participant is under no obligation to create or redeem baskets, and an Authorized Participant is under no obligation to offer to the public shares of any baskets it does create. Authorized Participants that do offer to the public shares from the baskets they create will do so at per-share offering prices that are expected to reflect, among other factors, the trading price of the shares on the NYSE Arca, the NAV of USO at the time the Authorized Participant purchased the Creation Baskets and the NAV of the shares at the time of the offer of the shares to the public, the supply of and demand for shares at the time of sale, and the liquidity of the Oil Futures Contract market and the market for Other Oil-Related Investments. The prices of shares offered by Authorized Participants are expected to fall between USO’s NAV and the trading price of the shares on the NYSE Arca at the time of sale. Shares initially comprising the same basket but offered by Authorized Participants to the public at different times may have different offering prices. An order for one or more baskets may be placed by an Authorized Participant on behalf of multiple clients. Authorized Participants who make deposits with USO in exchange for baskets receive no fees, commissions or other forms of compensation or inducement of any kind from either USO or USCF, and no such person has any obligation or responsibility to USCF or USO to effect any sale or resale of shares. Shares trade in the secondary market on the NYSE Arca. Shares may trade in the secondary market at prices that are lower or higher relative to their NAV per share. The amount of the discount or premium in the trading price relative to the NAV per share may be influenced by various factors, including the number of investors who seek to purchase or sell shares in the secondary market and the liquidity of the Oil Futures Contracts market and the market for Other Oil-Related Investments. While the shares trade during the core trading session on the NYSE Arca until 4:00 p.m. New York time, liquidity in the market for Oil
Interests may be reduced after the close of the NYMEX at 2:30 p.m. New York time. As a result, during this time, trading spreads, and the resulting premium or discount, on the shares may widen.
Who is our General Partner?
USCF is a single member limited liability company that was formed in the state of Delaware on May 10, 2005. USCF maintains its main business office at 1850 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Suite 640, Walnut Creek, California 94596. USCF is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wainwright Holdings, Inc., a Delaware corporation (“Wainwright”), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Concierge Technologies, Inc. (publicly traded under the ticker CNCG) (“Concierge”). Mr. Nicholas D. Gerber (discussed below), along with certain family members and certain other shareholders, owns the majority of the shares in Concierge. Wainwright is a holding company that currently holds both USCF, as well as USCF Advisers LLC, an investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. USCF Advisers LLC serves as the investment adviser for the USCF SummerHaven SHPEN Index Fund (“BUYN”), the USCF SummerHaven SHPEI Index Fund (“BUY”) and USCF SummerHaven Dynamic Commodity Index Total ReturnSM (“SDCI”), each a series of the USCF ETF Trust. USCF Advisers LLC also served as the investment adviser to the USCF Commodity Strategy Fund, a series of the USCF Mutual Funds Trust, which liquidated all of its assets and distributed cash pro rata to all remaining shareholders in March 2019. USCF ETF Trust and USCF Mutual Funds Trust are registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”). The Board of Trustees for USCF ETF Trust and USCF Mutual Funds Trust consist of different independent trustees than those independent directors who serve on the Board of Directors of USCF. USCF is a member of the National Futures Association (the “NFA”) and registered as a commodity pool operator (“CPO”) with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) on December 1, 2005 and as a swaps firm on August 8, 2013.
USCF serves as general partner of the United States Natural Gas Fund, LP (“UNG”), the United States 12 Month Oil Fund, LP (“USL”), the United States Gasoline Fund, LP (“UGA”), the United States 12 Month Natural Gas Fund, LP (“UNL”) and the United States Brent Oil Fund, LP (“BNO”). USCF previously served as the general partner for the United States Short Oil Fund, LP (“DNO”) and the United States Diesel-Heating Oil Fund, LP (“UHN”), both of which were liquidated in 2018.
USCF is also the sponsor of the United States Commodity Index Fund (“USCI”), the United States Copper Index Fund (“CPER”), and the USCF Crescent Crypto Index Fund (“XBET”), each a series of the United States Commodity Index Funds Trust (“USCIFT”). XBET is currently in registration and has not commenced operations. USCF previously served as the sponsor for the United States Agriculture Index Fund (“USAG”), which was liquidated in 2018.
In addition, USCF is the sponsor of the USCF Funds Trust, a Delaware statutory trust, and each of its series, the United States 3x Oil Fund (“USOU”) and the United States 3x Short Oil Fund (“USOD”), which listed their shares on the NYSE Arca on July 20, 2017 under the ticker symbols “USOU” and “USOD”, respectively. Each of USOU and USOD liquidated all of its assets and distributed cash pro rata to all remaining shareholders in December 2019.
USO, UNG, UGA, UNL, USL, BNO, USCI and CPER are referred to collectively herein as the “Related Public Funds.”
The Related Public Funds are subject to reporting requirements under the Exchange Act.
USCF is required to evaluate the credit risk of USO to the FCM, oversee the purchase and sale of USO’s shares by the Authorized Participants, review daily positions and margin requirements of USO and manage USO’s investments. USCF also pays the fees of ALPS Distributors, which serves as the Marketing Agent, and BBH&Co., which serves as the Administrator and the Custodian for USO.
Limited partners have no right to elect USCF as the general partner on an annual or any other continuing basis. If USCF voluntarily withdraws as general partner, however, the holders of a majority of USO’s outstanding shares (excluding for purposes of such determination shares owned, if any, by the withdrawing USCF and its affiliates) may elect its successor. USCF may not be removed as general partner except upon approval by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66 and 2/3 percent of USO’s outstanding shares (excluding shares owned, if any, by USCF and its affiliates), subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions set forth in the Partnership Agreement.
USO has no executive officers or employees. Pursuant to the terms of the Partnership Agreement, USO’s affairs are managed by USCF.
The business and affairs of USCF are managed by the Board, which is comprised of four Management Directors, each of whom are also executive officers or employees of USCF, and three independent directors who meet the independent director requirements established by the NYSE Arca Equities Rules and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The Management Directors have the authority to manage USCF pursuant to the terms of the USCF Agreement. Through its Management Directors, USCF manages the day-to-day operations of USO. The Board has an audit committee which is made up of the three independent directors (Gordon L. Ellis,
Malcolm R. Fobes III and Peter M. Robinson). For additional information relating to the audit committee, please see “Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance – Audit Committee” in the Annual Report.