The economics for commercial deployment of the American Centrifuge technology are severely challenged by the current supply/demand imbalance in the market for LEU and related downward pressure on market prices for SWU which are now at their lowest levels in more than a decade. At current market prices, USEC does not believe that its previous plans for commercialization of the American Centrifuge project are economically viable. Although the economics of the American Centrifuge project are severely challenged under current enrichment market conditions, market conditions are expected to improve and USEC continues to take steps to maintain its options to commercially deploy the American Centrifuge technology as a long-term, direct source of domestic enrichment production to support the long-term viability of the Company's LEU business.
From June 2012 through April 2014, USEC performed work under the Cooperative Agreement, as amended, for the research, development and demonstration of the American Centrifuge technology. The Cooperative Agreement provided for cost sharing for work performed during the period June 1, 2012 through April 30, 2014. USEC achieved or exceeded all of the program technical milestones and performance indicators on or ahead of schedule and on or under budget, and the Cooperative Agreement expired by its terms on April 30, 2014.
In light of the current status of the American Centrifuge project, DOE instructed UT-Battelle, the management and operating contractor for ORNL, to assist in developing a path forward for achieving a reliable and economic domestic uranium enrichment capability that promotes private sector deployment and that supports national security purposes. This task includes, among other goals: (1) taking actions intended to promote the continued operability of the advanced enrichment centrifuge machines and related property, equipment and technology currently utilized in the American Centrifuge project; and (2) assessing technical options for meeting DOE’s national security needs and preserving the option of commercial deployment. Pursuant to those instructions, ORNL chose to subcontract with USEC. On May 1, 2014, USEC signed the ACTDO Agreement with UT-Battelle, as operator of ORNL, for continued research, development and demonstration of the American Centrifuge technology in furtherance of DOE’s national security objectives.
The ACTDO Agreement provides for continued cascade operations and the continuation of core American Centrifuge research and technology activities and the furnishing of related reports to ORNL. The new agreement is a firm fixed price contract with a total price of approximately $33.7 million for the period from May 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014. The agreement provides for payments of approximately $6.7 million per month and is incrementally funded. The agreement provides initial funding for the first month of approximately $6.7 million. The agreement also provides ORNL with two options to extend the agreement by six months each. Each option is priced at approximately $41.7 million. ORNL may exercise its option by providing notice 60 days prior to the end of the term of the agreement. The total price of the contract including options is approximately $117 million. The scope of the overall work under the ACTDO Agreement is reduced from the scope of work that was being conducted by USEC under the Cooperative Agreement.