What is the Retirement Method of Depreciation?

Retirement Method of Depreciation

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Retirement Method of Depreciation

The retirement method of depreciation is not a common or standard method of depreciation. In traditional accounting practices, you’ll encounter several main depreciation methods, such as:

  • Straight-Line Method: This method spreads the depreciation of an asset evenly over its useful life.
  • Double Declining Balance: This is an accelerated method where the asset depreciates at twice the rate of the straight-line method.
  • Sum-of-the-Years-Digits: This method also results in accelerated depreciation, but it’s calculated differently than the double declining balance.
  • Units of Production: This method ties depreciation to the actual usage or production of the asset.

However, in some contexts, “retirement method” refers to accounting for asset retirement obligations, particularly for long-lived assets. These are legal obligations associated with the retirement of a tangible long-lived asset, such as decommissioning a nuclear power plant or dismantling an oil rig.

Under this approach, companies might recognize the present value of the estimated future costs of retiring an asset. This liability grows over time (through accretion), and the company also capitalizes part of these costs into the asset’s value (resulting in increased depreciation charges over the asset’s life).

If by “retirement method of depreciation,” you’re referring to a specific or unique method that isn’t widely recognized in accounting standards, I would advise you to provide more context or check directly with accounting sources or professionals familiar with that specific practice.

Example of the Retirement Method of Depreciation

Let’s dive into an example using the concept of asset retirement obligations (ARO), as it’s the closest context where the term “retirement” applies in depreciation and accounting.

Scenario: Oil Rig Decommissioning

Imagine an oil company, PetroTech Corp., that installs a new offshore oil rig. Regulations require that when the oil rig is no longer in use, the company must decommission it, ensuring that the marine environment is not adversely affected. This decommissioning involves removing all equipment, sealing the drill hole, and restoring the seabed.

Upon installing the rig, PetroTech estimates that the decommissioning cost in today’s dollars will be $10 million. The rig has an expected life of 20 years, and PetroTech believes the relevant discount rate for the present value calculation is 5%.

  1. Calculate the Present Value of the ARO:

PV = FV / (1+r)n


  • PVPV is the present value
  • FVFV is the future value, which is $10 million in this case
  • r is the discount rate, 5% or 0.05
  • n is the number of periods, 20 years

PV = $10,000,000 / (1+0.05)^{20}
PV = $10,000,000 / 2.6533
PV = $3,767,425.51

So, the present value of the decommissioning cost is approximately $3.76 million.

  1. Accounting Entries:

When the rig is installed:

  • Debit: Oil Rig (Asset) for $3,767,425.51
  • Credit: Asset Retirement Obligation (Liability) for $3,767,425.51

This accounting essentially capitalizes the expected cost of the future obligation into the value of the asset.

Each year, two things will happen:

  • The oil rig will be depreciated. This depreciation will include the initial cost of the rig plus the added ARO value.
  • The ARO liability will accrete, growing closer to the expected $10 million future value. This accretion is recognized as an expense and added to the ARO liability.

By the end of the 20-year period, the ARO liability on PetroTech’s books should reflect the full $10 million, which is the anticipated cost of decommissioning the rig.

This example demonstrates how companies account for long-term obligations related to the retirement of tangible assets.

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