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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hydropower project awaits permission

The feasibility study and road design for the Namkong 1 hydropower project in Attapeu province has now been completed, according to the project's director.
“We submitted the results of the feasibility study to the government this month, and we're now waiting for permission to proceed,” said the Director of the Region Hydropower Stations Lao Co Ltd, Mr Vasily Morgun, in an interview during a meeting on environmental and social impacts last Friday in Vientiane.
He explained that the results of the feasibility study will be the most important part of the project in its initial stages, before it can move on to the construction phase.
Further agreements to be reached will include those relating to concessions and project development. The company will also have to sign an agreement on the establishment of a joint venture with the government.
“We hope we will get permission to proceed with the project by November next year, the same time we hope to get permission for our Xekong 4 hydroelectric power project in Xekong province,” Mr Morgun said.
The company hopes to start the construction of Namkong 1 at soon as it receives permission and, if the project is on schedule, it should begin generating power in 2013.
The Namkong 1 will have an installation capacity of 150MW to generate energy mainly for export; the project directors of the Region Oil Company of Russia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government in December 2005.
The company also completed designs for a road to the project area, and has already asked for permission to begin building it.
“We will begin construction immediately once we get permission,” Mr Morgun said.
Currently the investment cost of the Namkong 1 is known only to the government and the investor, but Mr Morgun says the company may spend up to 16 trillion kip (US$1.7 billion) on Namkong 1, Sekong 4 and Sekong 5 combined.
The Deputy Head of the Water Resources and Environment Administration, Mr Noulinh Sinhbandhit, said the Namkong 1 dam would be 85 metres high and 379 metres long, and its reservoir will be about 21.8 square kilometres.
“According to the study, we can see that the impacts will be less significant than those of other hydropower projects,” Mr Noulinh said.
Friday's meeting was organised to discuss environmental and social effects, including forests and fisheries, villagers and historical sites.
“The hydropower sector is now booming in Laos, which is why the government now has policies and regulations to study the negative effects and find ways avoid them as much as possible,” Mr Noulinh said.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay (Latest Update December 18, 2007)

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