Canada: Energy @ Gowlings - Nuclear Special Edition: November 14, 2011

Edited by Paul Harricks


  • Gowlings expands its nuclear services
  • Nuclear - Dubai conference
  • Report on the Inaugural NEA nuclear law course

Gowlings expands its nuclear services
By: Terence A. McNally

The Gowlings Nuclear Team expanded its expert nuclear services with the recent addition of Simon Bliss as a strategic nuclear adviser.  Simon is based out of our London office and will work closely Robert Armour and the rest of Gowlings' nuclear team in the development of Gowlings'  international nuclear initiatives.

Simon has extensive experience in international strategy and business development in the energy sector, with a focus on nuclear power projects.  During his 30-year career, Simon has held a number of senior business positions in the UK energy sector and has been a strategic adviser to energy companies in North America.

Simon began his career with the UK's Central Electricity Generating Board before joining Scottish Nuclear as commercial development manager, making a substantial contribution to its merger with Nuclear Electric and subsequent privatization as British Energy PLC.

While at British Energy, Simon served as head of business development and regional director, North America, where he was responsible for developing the organization's nuclear power station acquisition strategy. He also served as director of strategy and business development, leading international initiatives including a number of significant transactions in the UK, North America and Europe. During British Energy's complex restructuring period in 2002 - 2003, Simon was responsible for securing a rapid, value-enhancing sale of the company's 50 interest in AmerGen to its joint venture partner, the proceeds of which were vital to British Energy's liquidity and successful restructuring.

Simon has provided advice to public and private sector clients on new build nuclear investment in UK and Canada including economics, commercial risk structure, commercial and technical due diligence, capital raising, asset valuation and technology and siting options.

Not only does he bring to Gowlings a deep understanding and global perspective on nuclear issues and first hand knowledge in structuring and closing nuclear projects, Simon offers an overtly, business-led advisory service that complements the legal expertise of the Gowlings nuclear team.

Nuclear - Dubai conference
By: Simon R. Bliss and Robert Armour

At the end of September, Robert Armour and Simon Bliss, two members of the Gowlings nuclear team, attended the 2nd Annual MENA Nuclear Construction Conference in Dubai.

The Middle East/North Africa (MENA) Region has shown significant interest in developing nuclear energy as an alternate source of base-load power.  In addition to the project under way in the United Arab Emirates (four 1400 MW reactors by 2020), there is real interest or early development in nuclear programs in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Egypt, with exploratory interest from Oman, Kuwait, Morocco and other MENA countries. 

The conference, with over 120 attendees proved to be an ideal meeting point for East and West.  In addition to speakers wide global perspective, the conference attendees included representation from China, Japan, Russia, Korea, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as dominant contingents from UK and U.S. consulting groups.

The Saudi speaker representing the  King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) explained the rationale for its new energy program (nuclear, solar and limited geothermal), namely, preserving oil to enable the kingdom to remain a swing/stabilising oil producer while providing for the rising domestic electricity demand (630Twh by 2030) on a sustainable basis, and for a global desalination program (18% of world demand). Long term, the Saudis may go for concentrated solar and storage but as a bridge for the next 50 years they see nuclear as the only practical energy source. (This logic should also apply to other gulf oil states such as Kuwait ).

Gowlings was able to use the conference as a business development opportunity for its international nuclear business plan.  As mentioned elsewhere in this publication (see first article), we have added strategic advisory services to our standard nuclear legal services.  Robert and Simon are leading this initiative. 

Report on the Inaugural NEA nuclear law course
By: Ian Richler

Last month I completed a week long course on nuclear law at the headquarters of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency in Paris. This intensive program covered virtually all aspects of nuclear law, including the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, third party liability and the insurance of nuclear risks, the transportation of nuclear materials, and non-proliferation.

It was the first time the "International Nuclear Law Essentials" course was offered. Participants came from all over the world but mainly from Europe. I was the only Canadian. Both the public and private sectors were well represented, with a number of participants from national nuclear regulators and law enforcement agencies, some from private utilities and equipment suppliers, and a few from service providers like insurers and law firms.

The lecturers were drawn from industry, academia, government and international organizations. Some of them had been instrumental in negotiating the treaties and conventions that form the backbone of international nuclear law. The keynote address was given by Lord Hutton of Furness, the former UK cabinet minister and current chairman of the UK Nuclear Industry Association, who spoke about how, despite its various challenges, nuclear power remains in many places an irreplaceable part of the supply mix.

As would be expected, a recurrent theme was the Fukushima incident and its implications for the nuclear industry. Several lecturers spoke about the difficulties associated with the phase out of nuclear plants before the end of their design life, not only in terms of finding alternative sources of power, but also in terms of financing and managing the physical decommissioning. Overall, I was struck by how bullish many of the speakers and participants remain about nuclear power. A commonly expressed view was that, despite the sudden policy reversals in some countries, notably Germany, the global outlook for the industry is fairly bright, with demand for new nuclear plants, especially in Asia, likely to remain strong into the medium and longer term.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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