Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ:LTBR)
Annual Meeting of Stockholders Conference Call
April 18, 2013 11:00 am ET
Gary Sharpe – Head-Investor Relations
Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. – Executive Chairman
Brian Buck – Senior Associate-Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Seth Grae – President and Chief Executive Officer
Marcus Perez – Great Western LLC
Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Lightbridge Corporation 2013 Annual Shareholders Meeting. At this time all lines are in a listen-only mode. Later we will conduct the question-and-answer session and instructions will be given at that time. You may also submit your question to IR, to the firstname.lastname@example.org email.
I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Gary Sharpe, Head of Investor Relations.
Well, thank you Shaun, and good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Lightbridge Corporation Annual Meeting of Shareholders. The formal business portion of the meeting is the first item on today’s agenda; the company’s proxy statement with voting instructions and recommendations was filed with the SEC in early March and distributed to Lightbridge shareholders. So our shareholders who still need to vote or want to change their votes, the polls are still open. We have proxies and ballots on the table in the back of the room.
Shareholders have been asked to reelect five incumbent members of the Lightbridge Board of Directors to ratify the company’s independent auditing firm, Anderson Bradshaw for another year of service and to cast on binding advisories votes on overall compensation of the company’s executive officers, which is presumed to stay on pay provision with the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.
After the business meeting, Lightbridge President and CEO, Seth Grae will present a corporate update on operating, financial and strategic initiatives. And then after that presentation, we will open the line for your questions.
Questions can be asked live over the telephone or maybe submitted in writing via email@example.com. Written questions maybe submitted at anytime during today’s meeting. The Lightbridge executive team is here in force today too and available to field all of your questions.
The slide presentation can be viewed and downloaded from the investor relations page at ltbridge.com. You may notice for those of you who are here at the meeting today, the table microphones near your seats, all those microphones are muted now. (Operator Instructions)
Before we proceed, I must remind you all that today’s presentation includes forward-looking statements about the company’s competitive position, product and service offering. And during the course of today’s call, words such as expect, anticipate, believe and intend will be used in our discussion of goals or events in the future. These statements are based on our current expectations and involve certain risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ significantly from such estimates.
The risks include that are not limited to the degree of market adoption of the company’s product and services, market competition, dependence on strategic partners and the company’s ability to manage its business effectively in a rapidly evolving market. Certain of these and other risks are set forth in more detail in Lightbridge filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Of course Lightbridge does not assume any obligation to update or revise these statements whether as a result of new developments or otherwise.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., Executive Chairman of Lightbridge Corporation. Ambassador Graham has been a member of the Lightbridge Board since 1997. He served as a senior U.S. diplomat involved in the negotiation of every major international Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Agreement from 1970 to 1997.
Ladies and gentlemen the honorable Ambassador Thomas Graham.
Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr.
Thank you Gary and welcome everybody to this Annual Meeting of Shareholders of Lightbridge Corporation. Thank you for your attendance, those who are in the room and those who are online. We will have an interesting presentation today. First as Gary said, Brian Buck will take us through the necessary business steps and that will be followed by a company presentation by our CEO, Seth Grae.
So I would now like to call on Brian Buck
Thank you, Tom. First I’d like to certify that we do in fact have a form for the meeting and can proceed and so that means that majority of the shareholders are represented either by proxy or are here at the meeting. And to the extent that anyone has not voted or would like to change their vote please let me know and I can provide you with a ballot in person and you can change your votes or vote now and I will add that to the current tally that we received and then at the end of the meeting, I can provide complete update for all the results.
And I guess at this point I will turn it over to Seth.
Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Tom. What I’d like to do is go through the new version of the investor presentation. Those in the room will see on the screens and those following on the webcast can follow as Gary said through the IR deck that you can download from the investor relations part of ltbridge.com.
And let me start by saying – this will advance to the next slide, one second. And if we go to slide 3, for those who are following on the webcast which right now – we now are just getting to slide 2 in the room here. People with big firms like me, I should find it easier to do it this way.
Okay, so nice work. And basically, as you’re just seeing in slide 3, the World Nuclear Association and other news sources that are tracking the reactors under construction and on order are predicting about $1.5 trillion of new build up nuclear reactors by 2030 which will be a massive build out of reactors mostly far to our East, in Asia, some in Europe, some are in the U.S, some in other places in the world, but mostly in Asia.
As you see at the bottom of the slide here in the U.S. we are facing fall in wholesale electricity prices which creates challenges for nuclear power, some of this is due to hydrofracking for natural gas, which is reducing the wholesale price of gas, reducing the overall price of electricity. And this is coming at the time when the cost of operating nuclear power plants here, and in many countries are rising partly due to new safety requirements that are being rolled out after the Fukushima incident, that installed a capital cost and some after security improvements that’s been rolled out after 9/11 that are turning our reactors really into fortresses that they were not originally designed to be. So we have the cost of nuclear generation rising and the wholesale price of electricity is falling which is a real problem for the nuclear industry and create great opportunities for Lightbridge.
On slide 4, what you’re seeing in the top right is some of the Lightbridge designed fuel rods that has been made by our partners in Russia. These fuel rods can be used interchangeably with the fuel rods used in reactors today, but they are quite different, they are made of metal instead of oxide. They are still made with uranium and zirconium but through a very different process where these are solid extruded metal rods, not pellets packed inside tubes. And this brings about some of the advantages that you have already seen and some will be talking about for the first time today.
On the bottom right is the photograph in July 2012, the construction site known as Barakah 1 in Abu Dhabi. That’s the first of four nuclear power plants being built at the site. As you know, Lightbridge wrote the roadmap of plan for nuclear power in the UAE and still advices the program and when the roadmap was issued in March of 2008, exact construction of this first unit would started in July 2012, which is exactly when it did and this unit under Lightbridge’s advise is the most on-time, on-budget reactor certainly we built in the world today, which helps bring about some of the consulting opportunities that we are looking into now in other countries.
On slide 3, as you go up with the vertical axis, we’re going up in levelized costs, different ways of generating the electricity on slide 5, with solar being the most expensive, then wind, nuclear, probably overall in the U.S. a bit more expensive than natural gas and coal today depending on the exact plant. But the yellow bar at the bottom left is very interesting, not only it is all the way to the left, which means no environmental impact, no emissions from the plant unlike gas or coal which has tremendous emissions of to the right use Lightbridge’s fuel to increase the power output of an existing reactor like 10%. The cost of that added electricity is the lowest price of electricity on the grid in the nation, cheaper by far than hydrofracked gas. And if you already have reactors in your country, the cheapest way to add a great deal of new electricity to the grid is to switch to using Lightbridge's fuel in addition to other benefits of the fuel.
On slide six, we go through some of the major benefit of the fuel starting with increased power output from the plant. While we are focusing on thorium-based fuels and focusing on non-proliferation benefit, less waste, less toxic waste which are benefits our fuel still has, utilities we’re telling there wasn't much interest in that, because while those are very good things they don't get feed their customers for non-proliferation or less waste or less toxic waste.
What they really needed was fuels that improves the economics of nuclear power generation in the current plant and also in new build plants. And we were able to modify our fuel designs, our intellectual property which has significant economic improvement for reactors with longer fuel cycles so they can sell electricity more days per year from the plant and more power output for which they are charging more revenue to their customers.
We didn't speak too much about safety advantages of the fuel because we were thinking that like non-proliferation and less waste and less toxic waste that's something that the utilities weren't paying for. But it turned out now they are and as an expression that nothing is more expensive in nuclear than safety. And I thought that meant, nothing is more expensive than an accident like Fukushima. But it turns out now nothing is more expensive than safety, what they are paying for safety upgrades for the plant based on new regs in the NRC and others around the world is the most expensive thing. And the safety advantages of our fuel might be worth more on straight economics to utilities than the power upgrades and longer fuel cycles, and this is what we’re finding in discussions. The utilities we will go through over the next couple of slides a bit.
Our fuel even with the power upgrade and longer fuel cycle is about 1000 degrees cooler in the core reactor than the current fuels used in reactors. And this has a lot of safety advantages that come along with it that are quite significant.
And if we go to the next slide to slide 8, this is something that you’re seeing for the first time that Lightbridge has not discussed much before today’s meeting and this is now on our website as well. Large Break LOCA, if you run a nuclear reactor, you never want to hear that term. When we talk about design based accidents in nuclear reactors, the situation that nobody running a reactor ever wants to hear is LOCA, loss-of-coolant accident.
All of the reactors we’re talking about around the world are light water reactors, various types, pressurized water reactors, boiled water reactors, [EPR] reactors, all light water reactors and the coolant is water. And when you loose the coolant, when you loose the water and your fuel starts sticking up above the level of the water in the reactor it can start to melt and when the temperature hits 900°C, the steam from that water is becoming steam at that temperature interacting with the zirconium metal on the nuclear fuel rods and that produces hydrogen. And this is what created the greatest danger at Three Mile Island where they were able to vent hydrogen, they were able to avoid the disaster but they came fairly close to a disaster with all the hydrogen that was built up in the plant. And this is what exploded at Fukushima, hydrogen explosion that blew up the buildings that held the reactors. 900°C is not something anyone running a reactor ever wants to hear about because that steam zirconium interaction causes the hydrogen buildup.
Within these design basis accidents and loss-of-coolant accident, Lightbridge's fuel will not go above 452°C to may be very briefly 500°C. It will not hit the 900°C. It will not make that hydrogen and that interaction that will blow up. This is part of what we will be verifying in upcoming testing, but the results thus far are very encouraging.
In recent meetings with utilities, this was a greater interest to them than any other aspect of the fuel. We even very much supported every other aspect of the fuel and this is partly what’s new in the world after Fukushima and the very expensive safety regulations. For example, you will hear in the nuclear news lately if you take a look at it about the cost the NRC is imposing on reactors and others around the world that are unclosing for ventilation systems, have much more expensive reliable ventilation systems that could vent hydrogen. There is an argument that you don’t need as expensive ventilation systems if you are not producing the hydrogen.
The next slide is one you have seen before, where on the pie-chart on slide 9 is every reactor in the world today, five type and 59% of them are pressurized water reactors. Our fuel can work in all of those. We have what we call our initial target market, of the pressurized water reactors simply because they are the largest by number type of reactors in the world and we down select to about half of those to about one-sixth of the reactors in the world, that we call the initial target market. When we down select from 59% down to about half of that by only looking at the pressurized water reactors that are over 900 megawatts of electric, the biggest ones powering cities.
And then we look at only among those, the once that had at least 20 years left on their current license after the year 2020, when our fuel will be largely available commercially. Even though many of the others will have license extensions that will carry their licenses beyond that, we don’t assume that will happen. In the most very likely they will and even other fuels could work in smaller reactors.
In the green are the boiling water reactors, these are GE type reactors, like at Fukushima. The fuel can work in those as well, but they are not our initial target market. The blue pressurized water reactors will be called Westinghouse reactors.
The brown are Russian VVER reactors, our fuel could work for those and is designed for those. In the grey and the orange, our fuel could work in some of those, but we don’t include any of that in the initial target market, we’re only including about half the pressurized water reactors in our projections.
And if we go on to slide 10, just counting the economics from the power uprate and the longer fuel cycles, will be just about 10% power uprate fuel. That results in improved economics to a typical pressurized water reactor at about $60 million per year. If our royalty is 10% of that economic improvement per year, that's $6 million per year to Lightbridge per reactor. About 8% of the $4.8 million per year per reactor and this is not including any of these safety advantages and value of that to the utilities that utilities are now telling that is more valuable to them than these numbers.
On slide 11, it is the slide you have seen before of the development timetables. We are still under – on the bottom right you see technology access fees, this is part of commercial arrangements we expect to have in 2015 with the in reactor testing in a very large test reactor starting in the U.S. and Russia later this year that will last about three years after about a year or have a great deal of results that will be meaningful to industry.
The regulators need to see all three years of testing after several months of evaluating that data, putting us into about 2015 is when we think we will have the most significant commercial arrangements with large companies that make and sell nuclear fuel, including what are called technology access fees, upfront payments to Lightbridge. We do think it is quite possible between now and then there'll be interim commercial deals with some of these companies that we are in active discussions with today.
On the next three slides, we're going to talk about some significant fairly recent major independent technical valuations. I think when people look back on this independent key valuation that occur between December 2012 and March of 2013 people will understand some of the commercial arrangements we hope we will be following where it came from.
Nuclear Technology, as I said before is the number one most respected independent nuclear technology peer reviewed journal. It is published by the American Nuclear Society and after one year of independent peer review in December they published validation of Lightbridge's nuclear fuel technologies, including relating to the power output and the longer fuel cycle and that bottom bullet, the increased safety resulting from operating temperatures.
Then also in December, Siemens, the German-based very large multinational corporation issued a report through its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, Pace Global, validating the economics of Lightbridge's fuel and the numbers we have been using in the presentation are consistent with the numbers published by Siemens in their independent report.
And then on slide 14, in March, Siemens issued another report – these are on our website confirming non-proliferation benefits of the nuclear fuel. And one of the reasons we were very interested in this report, was that a lot of people some seem to focus on that Lightbridge is very much a non-proliferation and nuclear safety company in our fuel technology and in our consulting services have a lot of Lightbridge technology relating to non-proliferation in our metal fuel. It’s not just in the thorium-based fuel. And there are markets around the world including new entry markets in some parts of the world, where non-proliferation benefit are important. Even if existing U.S. utilities aren’t willing to pay for non-proliferation, there are places in the world where it’s very important and that is still a major focus for our company and they are very strong on proliferation benefits of our metal fuel versus the fuels currently used in reactors.
On the next slide, these four utilities aside generate about 44% of the nuclear electricity generated in the country, it’s now actually about 50%. Exelon has acquired all of the reactors in constellation due to the acquired all of the reactors who progress and some reactors in the country in long-term shutdown are facing a upcoming decommissioning for the old reactors that results in these four generating about half the nuclear electricity now in the U.S.
And the head field managers of these companies are forming Nuclear Utility Fuel Advisory Board through Lightbridge that is very valuable to us in bringing us the voice of the customer. These are people who buy and use the new nuclear fuel and we want to have their input to what we are doing. And make sure that we are leading to a commercial product if they could and would actually use. Now hearing their voice directly in our company is very important. They had a meeting at our office last week with all four.
And this leads to what we call on slide 16, the push and pull strategy, because Lightbridge does not manufacture nuclear fuel, we license intellectual property in the end. We have at the top of the slide a push strategy that we are in discussions with the major nuclear fuel fabricators, the fuel vendors that make the fuel and sell it to utilities.
Perhaps more importantly even that the pull strategy at the bottom if we go around them right to their customers the utilities that buy the nuclear fuel from them and with the utility interest that helps hold the fuel through the supply chains and for example the four utilities mentioned on the Nuclear Utility Fuel Advisory Board by nuclear fuels and GE and they all buy nuclear fuel from Westinghouse and they all buy nuclear fuels from the Areva, and they can switch among those buyers. And if they want to maintain market share versus their competitors that make and sell nuclear fuel, they need to pay attention to what the customers will be ordering which is exactly a good situation for Lightbridge. We are also in discussion with utilities and with nuclear fuel fabricators in other regions of the world.
A few words on our advisory services, which is what brings in our current revenue. We advise both on nuclear generation for countries looking at establishing new nuclear power programs or expanding the existing programs and we also set up government regulations including the Nuclear Regulatory Authorities. So far, we’ve brought in more than $45 million of revenue in four years at about little over 40% overall gross margin from this work. In particular, we had tremendous success in the United Arab Emirates and around the Middle East. We’ve used some consulting here in the United States as well, and are in some active discussions in other regions of the world.
Slide 18 goes through at the top some of the areas we cover in the generation services where we take a country from scratch from initial feasibility and what should their generating portfolio look like and should it include nuclear. We were actually procuring an operating reactor. And on the regulatory services side, at the bottom in parallel setup the national policies, laws, international arrangements, arrangements with the international atomic energy agency, assist and advise countries in doing everything needy to have an independent regulator that can assure the safe deployment and operation of nuclear generation.
On slide 19, these color dots correspond to the four companies at the top, Lloyd’s Register, Exelon, Paul C. Rizzo Associates and Mott MacDonald which are illustrated, four of the companies we’ve worked with or bidding with on project overseas. These color dots are where they have significant offices and operations around the world that is not necessarily where we are working or bidding, but the purpose of the slide is to show one of the ways we hold down our overhead very low, as we worked out of the offices and infracture of the these types of partners. And as we are in discussions in some of these countries to advice them and we’re in discussion with some spaces relating to our fuel, by using all of this existing infrastructure of these other companies, it avoids the cost of having our own offices and other infrastructure in these countries and also get this people very familiar with local officials and local ways.
On the management slide on slide 20, on the top left is Ambassador Graham, who opened the meeting, who is one of the top nuclear non-proliferation experts in the world. On the top right is our COO and CFO, Jim Guerra who is here today, who among other positions was for 10 years the CFO of Exelon Nuclear, the largest operator of nuclear reactors in the US. Jim Malone on the bottom left is here today, our Chief Nuclear Fuel Development Officer, among other positions was for 10 years before he joined was the Head of Nuclear Fuel for Exelon. Andrey Mushakov who is here today is our Executive Vice President for International Nuclear Operations and among other expertise he is a leading expert in the economics of the nuclear fuel cycle and he has worked with our Russian partners and other partners around the world. Jon Johnson is not here. He is working right now in a client matter. Jon heads our Nuclear Regulatory Practice and then Jon was the RSC of 600 nuclear regulators in the United States reported to him and he was our Chief Liaison from the United States to foreign nuclear regulatory bodies in the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Briefly some of our key strategic advisors on slide 21. Sir Ronald Grierson is the Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Blackstone Group. Among other positions, he was the Chairman of General Electric Company of the UK, which is a separate company from GE of the US, when that company deployed the fleet of reactors across the UK. Hans Blix was the Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and led the inspection regime in Iraq. Sam Vaidyanathan was the Head of Advanced Nuclear Fuel development for GE Nuclear here in the US. Norton Shapiro was the Head of Nuclear Technology for Westinghouse. And Simon Murray is the Chairman of Glencore and was the CEO of Hutchison Whampoa.
Slide 22 is a repeat of what you saw earlier titled, Why Invest in Lightbridge? For the benefit and value we bring to the industry that we believe will transition to tremendous shareholder value in the nuclear fuel. And also at the bottom right, our consulting services which is bringing in our current revenue and bringing great value to our clients.
On slide 23, is the contact information for Gary Sharpe, that’s the easiest way to reach out to us at any time with your questions or comments including today. And just quickly, some of the slides on the appendix, some of the major milestones coming up this year and into next year will be making the fuel that will go into the large reactors for testing in the U.S. and in Russia, putting that fuel into the reactor and starting to get that data and fabricating full-length nuclear fuel rods beyond the 1 meter. For testing we were doing to the full commercial block and we will be doing that as well.
The next slide goes through some of the revenue from the initial target market, would add up to a different royalty rate. And then some of the bios of key members of our team on the following slide.
I'll just mention, Sandy McWhirter on slide 29, he is the Head of our UK operations which is very important to us and many of the people working for us overseas including the Middle East come from the UK. And I'll mention, on slide 30, Alexei Morozov who heads our Russian operations which is a key base for our nuclear development and testing. And slide 31, 32, does give a little more detail of some of the advisory services we provide.
So with that, I will thank those of you here in person and those of you on the webcast. I am showing you over to Gary for the questions from who are here as well as for those of you on the webcast.
Thank you, Seth. And operator, Shaun, now if you would please deliver the instructions to our listeners for asking questions and we'll stand by for the first question.
Absolutely, thank you. (Operator Instructions) Well, Seth, there is one question that’s come in over the Internet. Questioner wants to know, can you give us an update on any budget developments in Congress that might affect nuclear energy?
Yes, I can. The President has submitted his budget for the 2014 fiscal year that includes the Department of Energy budget. There are some hearings on Capital Hill today relating to the Department of Energy budget. Within that it does continue as full funding everything relating to what we are doing. And while we do not know what will have happen with the budget in terms of final Congressional approval or not or continuing resolutions which would include current levels, which would be good for us, because the current levels include funding of the work that we are involved with. From what we have seen and heard, the sequester does not effect the advanced test reactor in Idaho or DOE funding of those test.
So again what happens in Washington is a bit of a mystery. We do have much higher confidence than the last time we were asked this which was last month on our quarterly earnings call relating to the action of our 10-K. We are more confident now that that funding directly relating to our project will not be negatively impacted.
I do have a question that’s come in on the phone from Marcus Perez with Great Western LLC. Please go ahead with your question.
Marcus Perez – Great Western LLC
Yes. Hi guys, real quickly I have a couple of questions actually, if you can list in chronological order the detail, the next three milestones you anticipate to achieve at Lightbridge and in part if it’s possible actually when do you anticipate achieving that?
So in accordance with what we have weighed out, I think that expansion of some consulting work with existing clients or announcing new clients in the next few months for the consulting work. It is a quite possible near-term achievement and impacting our revenues.
On the nuclear fuel side, the final approval statements from the U.S. government and Russian government for the testing of the fuel in the large reactor, the advanced test reactor in Idaho and the MIR reactor at Dimitrovgrad, Russia and the final contract for that that would trigger the Part A-10 nuclear export control license being issued signed by the secretary of energy for going forward with those tests in Russia. We do anticipate all of that happening over the next few months.
Marcus Perez – Great Western LLC
Very good. I am going to ask a question that I think kind of out there, but is it possible to sell all product with – as it is now if there were some countries that were willing to buy it?
Well, they would not buy nuclear fuel from us because we don’t make nuclear fuel. They would need to order it from a company that manufactures nuclear fuel like AREVA, GE, Westinghouse, Russian entities, some Chinese and others. That would need to do so under license from us. They could enter into commercial arrangements to order the fuel now pending final regulatory approval. But it won’t be ready for use in large scale reactors before 2017. Let’s call when we test the sample, it is the first use in the first large reactors of full sized fuel. So while we do think it is quite possible that there will be commercial arrangements with some large companies that could include utilities between now and then that could include revenue to Lightbridge, you would not see the fuel actually manufactured and delivered to those reactors before 2017.
Marcus Perez – Great Western LLC
Very good, thank you.
Again there are two questions here in the room Gary.
Can you talk a little bit about competition (inaudible)?
Well, we often think of the competition as anything that generates electricity because when countries are looking at expanding their energy generating base and where we have started out in some of the countries, where we’re working is simply looking at their future energy growth rate projections and what a rational portfolio of generation could include, do they have fossil fuels if they want to use, are renewables a good source for pioneering energy base, are there political reasons where they don’t want to rely on certain other countries for fuel, what portion could nuclear play. And the question is never nuclear alone, it’s in the context of what portion would be nuclear if any in an energy generating portfolio for a country. And right now natural gas is making sense for some countries as part of that base and nuclear is as well for many countries. So I think that the – as we said nuclear power is expected to have about $1.5 trillion in new bill between now and 2030 and we will see tremendous market opportunity for Lightbridge on the consulting and particularly fuel size. But let me read it – that for a follow up, like they always have, specifically on competition, so setting is like competition that’s not nuclear.
Within nuclear power, I think that what we have invented and patented is unique. There is nothing else that can do what Lightbridge’s fuel does and the question is, what value does that bring to the market versus what others have? And what others have, fall into two categories, what others have are current nuclear fuel with slight tweaks, uranium dioxide fuel which really has reached the limit of what you can do with it and you can’t get more power out of the reactor, you can’t get longer fuel cycles, but you can make a lot of hydrogen and a loss of coolant accident and you can have a lot of problems that are becoming very expensive on the bottom line for running nuclear reactors.
And I think that versus that competition as we pool out this fuel in the testing and licensing, it will have an insurmountable advantage. And I think that the other area we hear about nuclear is, whole new reactor ideas, from fast reactors to fusion reactors to terra powers, very long fuel cycle. These are new types of reactors, new types of fuels, new ways to make fuels that go through the development, testing and deployment cycle, will likely be on the order of 50 years.
Within the current life of existing reactors and those that will be built now, we do not see significant competition or really any competition from new types of reactors during the period when Lightbridge’s stockholders want to make money.
So I think those other projects are more for governments that have very long term investment horizons or for people like Bill Gates who is investing in nuclear power who is trying to help the world in a very long-term way, but I don’t think Bill Gates expect commercial fuel in a reactor in 2017 for those reactors.
So I support what they are telling, I don’t think it’s competition for us, I think the greatest competition for us is others energy generation sources and that if we prove out what we believe we have an independent validation, showing what we have in the industry has stopped showing some strong interest in. I think that we will have a very good place within nuclear.
Do we have a question from the back of the room? Yes.
With regards to your reappointment R&D didn’t pass committee the Chamber of Commerce world, could you kind of elaborate on what that could develop into, what kind of law that’s facing on you, what kind of ramifications that might have? Is it basically a concern of the consulting to the chamber? Can you elaborate on that?
There are actually two different positions within what you are saying; first the CINTAC, is the Civil Nuclear Trade Advisory Committee, which advices the United States Secretary of Commerce on nuclear power particularly for improving the competitiveness of the U.S. suppliers internationally and we meet at a committee about once per quarter at the commerce department headquarters in Washington for a full day meeting and we have subcommittee meetings usually by telephone about once a month for about an hour.
Normally, my preparation time for the subcommittee meetings is about two hours, my preparation time for the full day meeting is up to about a full day. And I think these meetings and my participation in it while design to help the country in more competitive and nuclear is also good for Lightbridge that keeps up our relationship with leaders of the nuclear power, community who come from top positions at [tech center], Westinghouse, from GE, from major companies in the nuclear industry that are on that committee as well as very close ties to the U.S. government and some real insight to what their plans are in the private sector in the government. That is a role with the U.S. government advising the Secretary of Commerce.
Within the U.S Chamber of Commerce which is a separate thing, I’m a member of the Steering Committee that was formed by the Chamber of Commerce with the Nuclear Energy Institute with the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council to help (inaudible) on the U.S.-Saudi Arabia 123 Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation. And that is something that happens only in the private sector that is not a government role, but government officials come to every meeting and are very involved with it including very, very senior government officials. That is something that takes up less time that is specifically related to Saudi Arabia. But also I think very helpful to Lightbridge.
Was there another question? Obviously get one part of the follow-up, and one in the back, yes.
Kind of this last – since the event at Fukushima, how do you think the governments of the world view the capability of the Lightbridge? Has it impacted you in any positive or negative way?
Fukushima has impacted the nuclear power industry very negatively globally, so it will affect everybody. Some countries like Germany have decided to phase down or even phase out nuclear power, all countries have taken a pause in looking at nuclear power, but almost all of them have decided to go forward and with just as much nuclear power they planned before Fukushima, but at aggregate $1.5 trillion of new build, that’s a very current figure based on current orders and plant reactors is about the same as you would have seen before Fukushima.
The Fukushima was very negative, kind of like Deepwater Horizon and that it was very negative, it was a traumatic event, but today there is as much oil being used in the world as before Deepwater Horizon and no one thinks five years from now will be less oil used in the world or drilled for, then before Deepwater Horizon. I think Fukushima in that sense was unlike Tobago and Three Mile Island, which had very long-term negative impacts from a nuclear power industry global. Globally, we are just not seeing that in China, in India, in Russia, in the countries that ar planning to build the largest numbers of reactors.
I think the practical effect of Fukushima are very expensive, but very neat improvements to the reactor sites, more generators, generators down low to a standard phase generators up high to withstand Tsunamis and flood, more redundancy on that type of thing, more robustness, many areas which are planned specific, for example the U.S. reactors in the middle world.
At Arizona, they don’t need a Tsunami wall but we have reactors that do and these are very expensive and in many ways creating an opportunity for Lightbridge as we said in our focus on improving the economics of nuclear power while maintaining non-proliferation, waste advantages and seeing some significant bay fee advantage as we didn’t appreciate the cost of the safety improvements that are being imposed on the reactor operators until very recently and just how much more value our fuel might add because of that which will not be the case, but for Fukushima because these new regulations would not be rolling out now but for Fukushima.
Gary, we have another Internet question. This one is asked, does the company anticipate an impact on the industry with the nomination of Dr. Ernest Moniz as Secretary of Energy?
Now, I expect that Ernest Moniz will have his formal confirmation by the Senate in less than a week and will take off that’s probably in less than a week. And he is someone very well known to us at Lightbridge, he has been for years. We have run into him since the 1990s in Russia, not every (inaudible) on uncertain activities and we doubt what people at MIT, where he is a Professor and he is an expert on nuclear power, he is an expert in energy in general. I see from the Nuclear Energy Institute and companies around the industry with very strong support for his nomination.
I don’t know privately or publicly any leader of the nuclear power industry will oppose it. I think he is somebody who understands the technology, who is focused on nuclear safety, but also sees nuclear as part of a portfolio that he will give policy on energy in general and he is someone who supports in all of the above policy including fossil fuels, renewables, R&D and many areas including our nuclear and he is someone we’ve had many meetings with over the years and I think he will be positive for the department. I think he will be positive for the nuclear industry overall.
Operator Shaun now would you please pull again for more questions?
Absolutely. (Operator Instructions) I am not showing any other questions on the phone line at this time.
Okay, well. For those of you listening on the webcast thank you for joining us. For those of you here in person, we appreciate your coming. Please send any follow-up questions, comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and we look forward to staying in touch with you as well as speaking with you on our first quarter conference call, which will be coming up in a few weeks. And again, thank you very much.
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in today’s conference. This does conclude the conference. You may now disconnect. Good day.
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