Nuclear

We offer market leading expertise across all the legal issues which shape the international nuclear industry.

Linklaters’ global nuclear practice within our wider Energy & Infrastructure team, covers every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle, from the mining of uranium and the fuel supply, through corporate structuring, regulation, licences, construction, operating and maintenance contractsfinancing and development of sites and decommissioning of obsolete plant and treatment of spent fuel. We have a reputation for advising on some of the most strategic and complex deals across the globe and have reviewed the documentation from all angles.

We provide a full-service legal solution for nuclear assets to governments, corporates (including operators), lenders, investors and regulatory bodies.

An in-depth understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle

Corporate structuring

Our nuclear team has unrivalled experience of structuring projects in the nuclear sector. For example:

  • in Bulgaria, we advised RWE on its joint venture arrangements with NEK (the Bulgarian state-owned electricity company) for the Belene Nuclear Project. The joint venture arrangements dealt not only with the shareholding arrangements but also with the responsibility for funding the development of the new project, the operating structure and the licensing regulations insofar as they affect the joint venture and the design and construction of the new plant.
  • in the UK, our team negotiated the joint venture arrangements for the development of the new nuclear build between Centrica and EdF, following the acquisition of British Energy by EdF.

Fuel supply

Linklaters has extensive experience in all aspects of the fuel cycle, from mining uranium, trading in uranium, enrichment facilities, long-term fuel supply contracts, reprocessing contracts and long-term waste storage facilities. We have advised on uranium mining projects in Russia, Namibia, the Ukraine, Chad and DRC as well as on mining joint ventures and M&A.

Linklaters also has a strong history of advising clients on supply agreements, including for plants in the UK, Germany and Slovakia.

Regulation

Regulating risk has emerged as one of the most significant issues for the construction, completion and commissioning of nuclear power plants. Linklaters’ lawyers have been closely involved in examining these issues from a regulatory point of view and working on the development and implementation of key policy changes in this area. We also have first-hand experience of working with regulators in the UK, France, Germany, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, the U.S. and the European Union (such as EURATOM and IAEA), including advising the UK on the development of a new business model for new nuclear.

Construction

We believe we have unparalleled recent experience in the negotiation of EPC or EPCM arrangements for new nuclear power plants. For example:

  • on Mochovce in Slovakia, we drew up EPC contracts for the nuclear island and the EPCM and supply/works contracts for the conventional island. We also drafted the long lead item supply contracts, early works contracts, design contracts and the instrumentation and control contracts;
  • on Belene and Cernavoda, we advised the respective project sponsors on EPC arrangements for procuring the design, supply and construction of new plant. We have first-hand experience of the complex insurance arrangements for protecting sponsors and lenders.

Licenses

We have advised on the licensing applications and consents required. Usually one licence is issued per site, but we have also worked in jurisdictions where there are several differing licences.

Operating and maintenance contracts

Linklaters has extensive experience of the issues which arise under operating and maintenance contracts, both for large power projects and, particularly, for those in the nuclear industry, which have unique features. For the most part, there are not operational contracts in place for nuclear power plants because of the overriding licensing and regulatory regimes, although we have acted on several management and operating contracts in the sector.

Financing and development

Linklaters have been involved in several key deals which look at different financing structures for nuclear projects. For example:

  • ECA financing: for Olkiluoto in Finland, our team arranged a Coface ECA facility for the financing of long lead items.
  • pre-pay PPA structures: for Flamanville and others, we advised the lenders to Exeltium (a consortium of French industrial users of electricity) who have prepaid a lump sum for electricity (by raising debt to be paid back over the lifetime of the power purchase arrangements). This enables sponsors to have a cash injection to fund the construction of Flamanville.
  • corporate debt: we acted for Slovenské Elektrárne on raising of over €1bn of financing for the Mochovce Project in Slovakia, structured as corporate (rather than project) debt.
  • bond issue/rights issue: we advised Centrica on its IPO/rights issue and bond issue, raising the finance for its acquisition of 20% stake in British Energy from EdF.
  • multi-sourced financing: we acted on the Belene nuclear project, where there was €3bn of Russian-sourced financing woven into the funding structure, along with corporate and project finance debt. Linklaters is at the forefront of multilateral financings.
  • sovereign loans: we have acted for EURATOM in relation to the funding of safety upgrade projects in the Ukraine.

Decommissioning

Nuclear decommissioning is complex and appropriate contractual structures are required. Linklaters advised a consortium of BWXT, Serco and Bechtel bidding for the long term management and operating contract for the decommissioning work at the Sellafield site, which included the THORP reprocessing site and the MoX fuel plant and associated issues. Our advice included the consideration of the nuclear liability indemnity which is a major consideration for US companies bidding for nuclear decommissioning work.

We also acted for Euratom on a number of Eastern European projects. These companies were required to include full technical plans for how the plant would be decommissioned and were required to be updated every 5 years and such plans agreed with Euratom. This structure has been adopted in several jurisdictions and members of our team worked closely with the UK government when establishing the recent legislative reforms in respect of decommissioning funds.

We have also drafted regulations for the Lithuanian state in respect of decommissioning funds and we have negotiated extensively with the Slovakian, Bulgarian and Romanian states on making changes to their current regimes to enable new nuclear plants to be effectively and efficiently funded.

Our nuclear experience

Linklaters' nuclear team offers market-leading expertise across the full range of issues which shape the international nuclear industry.

Find out more about our experience on nuclear
Nuclear

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