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Monday, January 28, 2008

Fourth dam planned on Nam Ngum River

Another hydropower dam is plan ned for the Nam Ngum downstream after a Chinese company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lao government yesterday in Vientiane to initiate the project.

Under the memorandum, the company will conduct an 18-month feasibility study. If this meets the requirements of the social and environment impact assessment, construction will go ahead, with an operating period of 30 years.

The project, with a capacity of 110MW, will produce electricity for export to Thailand and for consumption in Vientiane , with power generation of 470 GWh per year and annual utilisation of 4,273 hours.

The government was represented by the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr Thongmy Phomvisay, and the Deputy Director General of the Department for Promotion and Energy Development, Mr Khamchan Pharayok, who signed the memorandum with the President of the China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation, Mr Cong Ya Dong, and company vice president Mr Chen Xu.

The event was witnesse d by officials from relevant sectors including the Vice Mayor of Vientiane, Mr Bounchan Sinlavong.

The dam site is located at Pak Ngum district in Vientiane , about 60km from the city centre.

Officials said the dam was part of the government's goal to develop hydropower for export to Thailand and in response to economic growth within Laos .

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, two other dams are under construction on the Nam Ngum River . The first on this river was built in 1971, with a capacity of 155MW.

The China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation is a Chinese government-owned company, established in 1980 in Beijing .

Last year, the company signed its first MoU with the Lao government to conduct a feasibility study on the development of a Mekong hydropower project in Paklai district, Xayaboury province, with a capacity of 1,320MW.

The Mekong dam will be one of the largest hydropower projects in Laos , generating electricity for domestic consumption and for export to Thailand .

Laos is positioning itself to be the ‘battery of Asean' by exporting electricity to the region; by 2020 it plans to have 70 dams completed or under construction.

Eleven dams are already generating electricity and MoUs have been signed for an additional 49 projects.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update January 29, 2008)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hydrogen a possible new energy source for Laos

The Environment Research Institute is studying the possibility of Laos investing in extracting hydrogen from water as a future alternative energy source.

The Deputy Director of the institute under the Water Resource and Environment Administration, Mr Phonechaleun Nonthaxay, confirmed yesterday that the institute had received funds from an international organisation to run the study.

“It is just a small project and we are all new to this concept,” he told Vientiane Times, adding that he would be ready to provide further information on the study once the results were available.

Study team member Ms Duangmani Luangmani explained yesterday that the study had begun in 2006 with financial support of US$6,000 from the International Environment Research Centre in Singapore .

The purpose of the study would be to determine the investment costs of hydrogen extraction, as well as the short and long-term benefits of the energy for Laos , she said.

Laos had the advantage of a large water supply compared to other countries, which would constitute the raw material to produce the valuable substance, she added.

“The water supply in Laos has many benefits, including the fact that once it is used to generate electricity, it can also be a raw material for hydrogen production,” she said.

She said that Japan , the US and neighbouring China had modern plants to extract hydrogen from water and used the energy to run industrial factories and cars. However, these countries could not produce hydrogen for commercial purposes because it is still four times more expensive than normal petrol.

She added that these countries were still in the investigative process.

Although hydrogen is still very expensive, Ms Duangmani said the study would be useful for the future development of Laos once the world's petrol supplies were exhausted.

“We are now gathering information from a number of sectors, including the amount of water in Laos and investment possibilities,” he said,

Ms Duangmani said hydrogen was one of the cleanest energy sources, which would be beneficial to the environment and future livelihoods.

She said the study was expected to end this year, therefore she could not provide any information about whether Laos should invest in the installation of hydrogen plants, or anything about the long-term benefits of this form of energy.

She confirmed, however, that the International Environment Research Centre was considering allocating more money for the environment institute to study in more detail the possibility of a hydrogen extraction project.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update January 25, 2008)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Xekong 4, Namkong 1 hydropower projects move forward

Developers of the Xekong 4 hydropower project in Xekong province and the Namkong 1 hydropower project in Attapeu province presented the results of feasibility studies in Vientiane yesterday.
Under Memorandums of Understanding drawn up on December 22, 2005, and on March 3, 2006, the government had given permission to Region Hydro Power Stations Lao Co Ltd from Russia to conduct feasibility studies of the two projects, in support of the country's socio-economic development plan.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a seminar to discuss the projects, the Director of the Promotion and Development Department for Energy and Mines of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Mr Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha, said the objective was to produce electricity for export to Thailand and Vietnam .
The projects also implement the Lao government's Memorandum of Understanding to supply 7,000 MW to Thailand and 3,000 MW to Vietnam by 2020.
The Xekong 4 hydropower plant, with an installed capacity of 60 0 MW, will produce 2,118 kwh of power per year, while the 150 MW Namkong 1 will generate 563 kwh a year.
The General Manger of Region Oil, the parent company of Region Hydro Power Stations Lao Co Ltd, Mr Olek Karbadin, said the feasibility studies could not be conducted without the cooperation of the authorities at all levels in Vientiane and in the provinces.
He added that the Russian government was closely monitoring the progress of these projects.
According to the feasibility study, about 170 square km will be flooded when the Xekong 4 dam is built. Most of this area contains unused forest and agricultural land that has been destroyed by slash and burn cultivation, logging exploration and animal hunting.
Around 4,500 people from 18 villages in Kaleum district are expected to be relocated from the Xekong 4 project site.
The Namkong 1 project in Attapeu province will cover 21.8 square km of land of similar condition to that being used by the Xekong 4 project.
While no families will be relocated from the construction area, four communities with a population of 1,612 from 385 families will be impacted, as they live to the rear of the dam site. The deputy governors of Xekong and Attapeu provinces agree that, overall, the hydropower projects will improve the living conditions of local communities over time, and will contribute to the country's poverty alleviation strategy.

By XAYXANA LEUKAI (Latest Update Janurary 23, 2008)

Research reveals Nam Ngum 3 hydropower potential

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) yesterday presented its research on the social and environmental impacts which may occur if the government allows construction to proceed on the Nam Ngum 3 hydropower plant in Vientiane province.
The bank is considering granting a loan to the Lao government to purchase a share in the 440MW hydropower project, some 150 km north of Vientiane .
Deputy Director General of the Electricit y Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Mr Hadsady Sisoulath, presided over the presentation session at Don Chan Palace in Vientiane , with a number of government officials, ADB and NGO representatives attending.
The meeting participants had the opportunity to express their opinions and concerns over the impacts of the project, which requires 3,890 square km as a catchment area.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Mr Hadsady said the cumulative impact assessment would provide a basin planning and management “roadmap” to minimise the social and environment impacts of the project and ensure the wellbeing of people in the development area.
Mr Hadsady said the government considered the Nam Ngum 3 hydropower project a top development priority to export electricity to neighbouring Thailand . The project is expected to generate millions of dollars for Lao poverty reduction programmes.
According to the ADB research, which was carried out from May to November 2007, the power plant project will include developing infrastructure in the areas surrounding the dam, which would speed up the ongoing process of integration and assimilation of ethnic groups into a common culture.
Urbanisation would likely accelerate wit h improved transportation facilities, allowing people in rural areas to access city development as well as health care. A number of schools will be built and general education will be improved respectively, the report says.
Rural people will have better access to local markets and some families will benefit from growing newly introduced cash crops. New technologies and consumer products will have entered the area, making life easier for those who can afford them.
The dam's reservoir and surroundings will become a recreation area, attracting tourism and opening up income opportunities for locals as well as outside investors.
Senior President of the GMS Power Company Limited, Mr Nopporn Prapaitrakul, whose company gained permission from the Lao government to build the dam, announced last week that the company would spend US$20 million to address the socio-environmental impacts of the project throughout its operation.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy (Latest Update January 23, 2008)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Construction close to starting on major dam

The main construction phase of the Nam Ngum 3 (NN3) Hydropower Project will begin in October this year in Xaysomboun district of Vientiane province.

“We're now in the initial phase of construction,” said the Senior Deputy President of the GMS Lao Company Ltd, Mr Nopporn Prapaitrakul, in an interview at the national consultation workshop on environmental and social aspects of the project on Wednesday in Vientiane .

This initial construction will include the access road to the project site.

The excavation process on NN3 will also begin next month, and the company will sign a purchase agreement with a buyer a month later.

“The company is also selecting construction companies to carry out the main work, with one company to be chosen from candidates from Thailand , China , Italy and Japan ,” Mr Nopporn said.

The construction work will take about four and a half years to complete, necessitating between 3,000 and 4,000 employees, and will cost a total of 6.5 trillion kip (US$700 million), with the Lao government holding a 23-percent share. The rest will be owned by companies from Thailand and Japan .

“The money for the government to purchase the 23-percent share will be loaned by the Asian Development Bank,” Mr Nopporn said.

Construction of the dam is expected to be finished by 2013, when the generated energy will be sold to Thailand ; the plant will have an installed capacity of 440MW that can generate about 2,000GWh per year.

The project will have a 96km transmission line of 230kV from the powerhouse to a substation in Nabong village, Xaythany district, Vientiane , as well as a 28km transmission line of 500kV from Nabong to Thailand .

The dam will create a reservoir of 27.5 square kilometres, formed by a wall 220 metres high.

“We will operate the dam for 27 years once it begins energy generation and sale,” Mr Nopporn said.

The Deputy Head of the Water Resources and Environment Administration, Mr Noulinh Sinhbandhit, said the Lao government plans to generate 23,000MW from 2006 to 2010 throughout the country.

Mr Nopporn said the government was focusing on hydropower development because it is a more sustainable form of income than, for example, oil.

The GMS Lao Company Ltd signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Lao government and the project developer in 1994, but the project was delayed in 2000 due to the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update Janurary 18, 2008)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

EDL lights up in the north

After years in the dark, remote villages in Oudomxay province have finally been lit up by a new 115/22kV substation, which officially opened last month and is operating at full capacity.

Some 276 families in 10 villages of Xay district, Oudomxay province, and one village in Pakmong, Luang Prabang province, are benefiting from the project, according to a senior official from Electricite du Laos (EDL).

The 10 villages are the first of 95 in the province where EDL will be extending its network by the end of this year, said the site manager of the distribution section of the project, Mr Bounxana Phanhalath.

The installation of high and low-voltage transmission lines throughout Oudomxay province is part of EDL's project to provide an electricity grid for northern Laos .

The Northern Rural Area Power Distribution Project is being supported by the Nordic Development Fund and the Asian Development Bank.

This second phase of the project began in 2004 and will be completed this year, according to Mr Bounxana, and will cost a projected US$12 million.

Rural villages in Xay district previously used generators, while the main town of the province brought in electricity from Luang Prabang province.

The project plans to expand the electricity network to the provinces of Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Xayaboury, Xieng Khuang and Vientiane .

Friday, January 18, 2008

Deputy PM visits Nam Theun sites

Mr Asang Laoly ( centre ) visits the site where Nam Theun 1 dam will be built on the Nam Kading River , about 33 km upstream from the Mekong.

The Nam Theun 1 hydropower project developer will send the results of a study of environmental, residential, ethnic development and social impacts to the Lao government for consideration at the end of this month.

Gamuda Berhad, the Malaysian project developer, made this commitment to the Chairman of the National Environment Committee, Mr Asang Laoly, who was accompanied by the Minister to the Prime Minister's Office, Ms Khempheng Pholsena, representatives of involved ministries and environmental officials, during a visit from January 11 to 14.

The visit was part of the committee's work in monitoring the environmental management strategies of the Nam Theun 1 and 2 hydropower projects, to provide directives and suggestions to both projects.

“Environment management and development has to be sustainable, which means that when villagers are asked to move away from the affected areas and resettle elsewhere, they must be able to remain in their new areas for many years to come,” said Mr Asang.

Mr Asang, who is also a Party Politburo Member and Deputy Prime Minister, gathered with his officials on the first day to hear the development report of the Nam Theun 1 project from the Borikhamxay governor.

The delegation then visited the affected areas of the project in Viengthong district, where they provided advice to local authorities and asked villagers about their living conditions.

Mr Asang suggested that the project take steps to develop the local health sector and help those who will be affected by the project, to ensure they get better living conditions.

“We need a more detailed report from the developer, because the report we received last year didn't contain enough information. The report has to follow our regulations and environmental laws,” said the Director General of the Environment Department of the Water Resources and Environment Administration, Dr Viengsavanh Douangsavanh.

The Malaysian development company signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 26, 2004, with the Lao government to conduct pre-feasibility studies and an assessment of the environmental impacts of the Nam Theun 1 project.

The company also signed a project development agreement on November 28 in the same year.

The project site is in the central Lao province of Borikhamxay province; the dam will be built on the Nam Kading River , about 33 km upstream from the Mekong River , with an installation capacity of 523 megawatts.

On January 13 and 14, Mr Asang and his officials also visited the Nam Theun 2 project in Khammuan province, where they heard a progress report on the construction and development phases, particularly on environmental management and the improvement of the living conditions of villagers who have been relocated.

The delegation also visited various project sites, including the dam and reservoir, the power plant, and the weir and canals that will direct the water from the power plant to Xebangfai River , before it flows into the Mekong and other areas.

“We will start generating electricity early next year, even though we had originally planned to do so at the end of 2009. This indicates that the project is going very well,” said the Chief Operating Officer of the Nam Theun 2 Power Company Limited, Mr Christophe Maurel.

He explained to the delegation that there will be six channels to release electricity to consumers, four of which will have a combined installation capacity of 1,000 MW, which will be sold to Thailand .

The other two channels will have a combined capacity of 70 MW, and will sup ply the domestic market, he added.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa
( Latest Update January 16, 2008)

Hydropower projects under consideration

Planned hydropower plants on the Xekong and Nam Kong Rivers.

The Region Hydropower Stations Lao Co. Ltd.
will present the findings from a feasibility study of two proposed hydropower projects next week in Vientiane , according to the latest progress report released by the company last week.

The two projects assessed by the study were the Xekong 4 project in Xekong province, and the Namkong 1 project in Attapeu province.

“Once the presentation is completed, the company will begin construction of the access roads to the projects sites,” the report stated.

The company has completed the design plans for the access roads, and initial permission for the projects has been granted by the Lao government sectors concerned.

“The company hopes to enter into a project development agreement with the Lao government next month,” the report asserted.

Once the agreement is reached, the company will establish a joint venture with the Lao government.

With the formal procedures completed, the company hopes to begin excavation on both sites in October this year, and expects to complete the dams and begin energy generation by the end of 2013.

The company has completed surveys of existing electricity transmission lines, and reported its findings to the Lao energy sector. New power lines will be necessary to carry the electricity generated by the powerhouses to the Ban Sok substation in Attapeu province.

An initial agreement for the purchase of electricity has been obtained from an unnamed buyer. Further discussion and cooperation with the government is necessary before a more detailed purchase agreement is reached, to be entered into once the feasibility findings are released.

The Region Hydropower Stations Lao Co. Ltd. was first established in Vientiane by Russia 's Region Oil Company in 2007, after it signed Memorandums of Understanding with the government for four proposed hydropower projects, namely Xekong 4 and 5, and Namkong 1 and 3 in Xekong and Attapeu provinces.

The four projects will have a combined installation capacity of 1,200MW, with total investment estimated at around 15.7 trillion kip (US$1.7 billion).

“So far the company has spent about 92.7 billion kip (US$10 million),” the report noted.

Total capacity will include the generation of 150MW of energy at the Namkong 1 hydropower plant, Xekong 4 will have an installed capacity of around 600MW, with 35MW generated by Namkong 3 and the remainder produced by Xekong 5.

The projects are expected to export energy to Vietnam or Thailand .

The report also noted changes to the road access leading to the Xekong 5 construction site.

Access is now being reassessed because the initial design for the road passed through protected forest reserves.

The results from this new survey will be presented to the government upon completion.

The company last year established an office based in Xekong to better administer the projects. Agreements with companies from Laos , Russia , Norway , and Vietnam have been reached for the completion of project surveys, construction designs, and consultation processes, as well as for environmental and social impact studies.

Close cooperation with government agencies has also been vital for the disposal of unexploded ordnance found at the project sites, and for conducting accurate studies of water, land and climate impacts.

To date, environmental impact assessments for Xekong 4 and Namkong 1 have been completed and the findings presented to the government sectors concerned.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update Janurary 16, 2008)

Hydropower plant promises improved living conditions

The chief sponsor of the Num Ngum 3 hydropower project has presented plans to address the serious social and environment impacts which may result from the proposed project.

This successfully completes one of the most important steps in the process required to allow the company to construct the power plant in Laos . A number of environmentalists and government representatives also attended yesterday's meeting to hear the presentation at Cosmo Hotel in Vientiane .

Deputy Head of Water Resource and Environment Administration, Mr Noulin Sinbandhit, confirmed that the government would give the green light for the company to continue with the project approval process, if it can be proven that after the construction of the power plant, GMS would go on to help the local people living in the project development area attain better living conditions.

According to the latest report, the area encompassed by the Nam Ngum 3 dam will extend to Longcheng village, situated some 65 km upstream from the Nam Ngum 1 hydropower plant in Thalat village. With an area of 3,890 square km required for the water reservoir, the project will necessitate the removal of a village containing 90 families, or 523 people.

Senior President of the GMS Power Company Limited, Mr Nopporn Prapaitrakul, said the company, which obtained permission from the Lao government to investigate the feasibility of the project, was well aware of the socio-environment impacts imposed by the power plant.

The company reportedly has an approved budget of US$20 million to specifically address these environment impacts, and to improve the living conditions of those affected.

Mr Nopporn said the company planned to improve the health and education services available to local people, and to raise the incomes of families as part of the project objectives.

The village chief of Xiengda village, Phoukout district, which will be flooded if the project goes ahead, said he and his village members were happy to move away from their homes, land and places of birth, to give the go-ahead for the construction of the power plant.

“It's government policy to turn Laos into a regional battery, and we have to follow this policy,” he said, adding that he believes the Party and government have the wisdom to implement the policy needed to lead all Lao people out of poverty.

He said he would, however, like the government and company sectors involved to help his village resettle in an area with sufficient fertile lands to grow crops and support future development.

Many families would be forced to abandon rice cultivation, he explained, and he hoped that training in new skills and knowledge, and new jobs would be offered to ensure prosperity in their new environment.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update January 17, 2008)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Northern districts to have electricity

Residents of four districts in Xieng Khuang province will be connected to the electricity grid this year, a provincial official said on Wednesday.

Phoukoud, Phaxay, Kham, and then Nonghet districts should be powered up by the end of the year.

“Phoukoud district will be connected first on January 18, because the lines are already in place,” said an official from the Xieng Khuang provincial branch of Electricite du Laos (EDL), Mr Visien Sisamak.

“We are very pleased to deliver electricity to the people here,” he said.

He added that EDL's Paek district branch station will be the connection point for the four districts to the national electricity supply.

The Governor of Kham district, Mr Oneta Phengvongsone, told Vientiane Times the district was about 60km from Paek district but this did not mean that no one had electricity.

Electricity was available, but was not sufficient to meet families' needs the whole time, he said.

At present, some people have access to electricity only from 7 to 11 pm.

“ The power we have now comes from a small hydropower station. Because the dam is small it cannot create sufficient energy for everyday us e all the time. In fact, it takes a whole day to build up and release enough energy needed for household use during the night,” Mr Oneta said.

Consequently, the district authorities advise people to install generators in their homes as this enables them to have electricity throughout the day so they can cook. “But it's up to them to do it,” he said.

Generators are easy to obtain in local markets; they are made in China and provide a ready source of power, he added.

At present, some families use generators to supplement the power provided by the dam. However, the drawback of generators is that families also have to buy fuel to run them.

There are 120 villages in Kham district, but not all of them are connected up to the hydropower supply. Only some people living in the main town have access to this power source, said Mr Oneta.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update January 11, 2007)

Lao, Viet govts further hydropower cooperation

The Lao government and the Lao-Viet Power Joint Stock Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding last Tuesday for a feasibility study of a hydropower dam on the Emun River in Xekong province, under the Dak E Meule hydropower project.

Mr Thongmy Phomvisay (right) shakes hands with Mr Mai Huy Tuan after signing the Memorandum of Understanding at the Lao Plaza Hotel last Tuesday.

T he agreement was signed by the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr Thongmy Phomvisay, the Director General of the Energy Promotion and Development Department, Mr Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha, the Chairman of the Board of Management of the Viet-Lao Power Joint Stock Company (VLPC), Mr Mai Huy Tuan, and the Director General of VLPC, Mr Nguyen Thang Long.

The ceremony took place at the Lao Plaza Hotel and was witnessed by Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad, along with Lao and Vietnamese government officials.

“This signing ceremony will initiate the feasibility study of the dam; after that we will sign a contract of development and then a contract of concession,” said Mr Xaypaseuth.

He told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that the Lao government held at least a 25 percent share in any hydropower project, according the law governing electricity production. But the government could hold a larger share if it had enough financial resources or the project was yielding a larger-than-anticipated profit.

According to a VLPC document, the Emun River is a level one branch of the Xekong River in Kaleum district.

The Dak E Meule hydropower project proposes the building of two hydropower plants on the upstream and downstream of the river. It is projected that the upstream plant will have an installation capacity of 20MW, generating 81.35 million kWh, and the second plant an installation capacity of 110MW, generating 444.86 million kWh.

The total investment cost in the project is around 1.47 trillion kip (over US$155 million). Construction is expected to start in 2009 and to finish in 2013.

The project aims to produce electricity for sale to Vietnam , with a certain percentage possibly being sold to Thailand , or used to meet demand in Laos .

Calculations and surveys show this project to be one of the most effective and feasible, with favourable investment conditions and high energy generation potential.

The project will earn considerable profit for its Vietnamese operators, while ensuring a source of revenue to the Lao government from taxes and royalties. It will also improve serve to improve infrastructure in Laos and boost economic development.

The success of the project will help to promote energy cooperation and further economic, cultural, scientific and technological cooperation between the Lao and Vietnamese governments.

Prior to the signing, President Choummaly Sayasone and his wife, along with senior Lao and Vietnamese officials, took part in a ‘river closing' ceremony last December as part of the construction of the Xekhaman 3 hydropower plant, in Dakcheung district, Xekong province.

The Lao and Vietnamese governments have a contract for cooperation in the field of electricity generation, with Laos agreeing to supply Vietnam with 3,000MW by 2020.

Laos entered into an agreement with Vietnam for the production of hydroelectric power in July 1998, for the export of about 2,000MW of power to Vietnam between 2003 and 2010.

Vietnam will continue to cooperate with Laos in the investment and development of the Xekhaman 1, Xekhaman 4 and other hydropower projects in Laos .

The Deputy Director General of the Energy Promotion and Development Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mines said in June that the government's development plans specify that Laos will complete 29 hydroelectric power development schemes, with a total installed capacity of 8,657MW.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa
(Latest Update Janurary 10, 2007)

Work to start on Nam Tha 1 hydropower dam

The China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd (CSG) will begin work on an access road to the Nam Tha 1 hydropower project site in Bokeo province in March, acc ording to a project official.

The 40-km access road will run from Road No R3 road to the site in Pha-oudom district.

“We expect it will take about six months to build the road,” said the Deputy Manager of the Laos Project Department of China Southern Power Grid International Co Ltd, Mr Liu Jian, in an interview at the national consultation workshop on environmental and social aspects of the project on Friday in Bokeo province.

The road will be used to transport construction equipment to the site.

The company will start the construction of the main structures once the access road is complete, including the dam, powerhouse, spillway and diversion system for power generation.

Mr Liu Jian said the dam would take four years to build and energy generation would begin in 2012. The plant will have three energy generators with an installation capacity of 168MW.

The project includes the construction of a 115-kV transmission line with a length of 82km from the powerhouse to the substation in Huayxai district and another 115-kV transmission line 40kin in length from the powerhouse to another substation, in Luang Namtha province.

“The project will cost about 3.1 trillion kip (US$340 million),” Mr Liu Jian said.

The shareholders will be the CSG and the Lao government, with the company running the project for 30 years.

“The Lao government may hold a 15 to 25 percent stake but we don't know for certain yet because we have to wait and see the concession agreement,” Mr Liu Jian said.

The Deputy Head of the Water Resources and Environment Administration, Mr Sisavath Vitaxay, said Nam Tha 1 will represent an important power resource point in the power grid in northern Laos , and will meet the demands of local residents and the mining industry. It will supply mainly Bokeo and Luang Namtha provinces.

“We'll a lso be able to export electricity to Thailand ,” Mr Liu Jian said.

The dam will create a reservoir of 64 square kilometres to store about 17.55 billion cubic metres of water.

“It will flood 34 villages,” Mr Sisavath said.

The 34 villages include 10 in Pha-oudom district in Bokeo province and 24 in Nalae district in Luang Namtha province. These villages are home to 7,979 people in 1,397 families.

“We must make sure that everyone affected is resettled before the dam begins to store water in 2011,” Mr Sisavath stressed.

It will cost about 280 billion kip (US$32 million) to relocate the local residents, an amount already figured into the overall cost of the project.

By vientiane times
(Latest Update Janurary 14, 2008)

Champassak electricity debt falls

Residents of Champassak province have paid off almost half of their debts to the provincial branch of Electricite du Laos, an official from the province said on Friday.

“At the start of 2007 we were owed 40 billion kip, but over the year customers managed to reduce that to 26 billion kip,” said the deputy manager of the provincial electricity department, Mr Khoune Bouaphengphanh.

“We are very happy with how much customer debts have been reduced,” Mr Khoune said.

He said the department hopes to reduce the outstanding amount from 26 to 16 billion kip by the end of this year.

In the past some residents could not meet the demands of payment if incomes in the poorer communities fell, and other people simply don't like to pay bills so end up with a mounting debt, he said.

“We will not cut off their electricity if they do not pay their debts, but we will explain the situation to them and ask them for reimbursement until they have paid us all they owe.”

Customers have signed agreements indicating they will pay their bills in amounts that fairly match their ability to pay. Some can repay the total amount in about three months, others will take longer,” Mr Khoune said.

There are 10 districts in Champassak province, and over half of the 926 villages receive electricity from the provincial branch of Electricite du Laos.

According to the department, the province is planning to expand the grid system in rural areas in the middle of this year.

This is to support the Lao government's strategic plan for poverty reduction, aimed at lifting Laos out of least-developed country status by 2020.

The grid will be widened to a further 119 villages over the next five years, with funds allocated by the World Bank, Mr Khoune said.

By 2010, the department expects to supply power to 70 percent of villages in the province, he said.

By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update January 7 , 2007)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Laos and Vietnam to join hand in hydropower development

(KPL) An MoU on the construction of the Dak-Imeun hydropower station, a co-operation project between Laos and Vietnam, was signed on 8 January in Vientiane between Mr. Thongmy Phommisay, Deputy-Minister of Planning and Investment, and Mr. May Huy Tan Tan, President of the Viet-Laos Power Development.
Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Standing Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Chairman of Laos- Vietnam Co-operation Committee, and Mr. Nguyen Sinh Hung, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, and senior officials concerned from both sides witnessed the signing ceremony.
A feasibility study for the project will start after the signing of the MoU and the project will be constructed from 2009 to 2013 with a total investment of US$ 155 million.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Nam Ngum 2 hydro project to relocate 6,000 people

The Nam Ngum 2 hydroelectric power project in Vientiane province will relocate more than 6,000 people who will be displaced to make way for the reservoir.
They will move from Xaysomboun district to new homes in Meuang Feuang district.
The resettlement project involves the construction of three villages and is currently 30 percent complete, according to an employee of the Nam Ngum 2 project.
She made a report to the Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr Bosaikham Vongdara, and ministry staff during their visit to the new villages on December 15.
“Everyone will be moved to new homes before water is released from the dam in 2009,” Dr Bosaikham said during his visit.
Vientiane Governor Khammeuang Phongphakdy told Vientiane Times on the same occasion that the project would affect 16 villages and more than 1,000 families in one district. Nearly all residents would move to the three new villages being prepared for them.
“People are ready to move as soon as all the new buildings have been finished. Forty of the 1,000 families have other places to go, as most of them are government officials and have other facilities provided for them, as well as compensation,” Mr Khammeuang said.
He said the three new villages would each have a primary school, a lower secondary school, a market, a dispensary, a bus station, electricity, farmland, a 7-km asphalt road, clean water supply and other facilities.
A project employee reported that the resettlement area had more than 1,000 hectares of farmland and about 74 hectares on which to build new homes.
She said the resettlement project had set up a social and environmental unit to monitor the situation of the more than 1,000 relocated families.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa (Latest Update December 25, 2007)

Xeset 2 hydro project on track

Excavation of the headrace tunnel at the Xeset 2 hydropower plant ended on Friday in Lau-ngam district, Saravan province, after almost two years of work.

Work on the tunnel, which is more than 6,800 metres long, began in February last year.
“The headrace tunnel is the most difficult part of the project,” said Chinese Project Manager Wang Yan Tao, at a ceremony to celebrate the event.
Mr Wang said the excavation work was not only one of the most expensive parts of the project, but also involved unforeseen critical processes.
The completion of the tunnel was the basis for the on-time completion of the rest of the project, he said.
Construction of the whole plant is now 58 percent complete, after work began in November 2005.
“The project will be completed in August 2009; we are confident it will be completed on schedule in compliance with the specifications,” Mr Wang said.
The project is owned by Electricite du Laos (EDL), with construction being undertaken by the Norinco Construction Company of China .
It has an estimated cost of more than 1.2 trillion kip (US$135 million), with 80 percent financed by a loan from the Export Import Bank of China , and the other 20 percent contributed by EDL.
Mr Wang said his company and EDL now shared the investment, but Norinco would hand over the plant to EDL when it was complete, at which point EDL would repay its partner's share.
“The repayment period is 11 years, including the capital and interest,” said Lao Project Manager Souksavay Sipasop.
Xeset 2 will have 76MW of installed capacity, and will be able to produce more than 300GWh of electricity per year.
“About 20 percent of the energy will be exported to Thailand , but first we have to asses local power demand,” Mr Souksavay said.
The dam will be 23 metres high and 650 metres in length; it will have a small reservoir that will store only 800 cubic metres of water and an access road 39 kilometres long.
The Xeset 2 power source will lead to a significant increase of energy supply for EDL. It will ensure a more effective, accessible and reliable supply of electricity to the industrial and agricultural sectors - especially in rural and remote areas. The main objective is to serve the southern provinces.
According to the national economic development plan, 70 percent of the total population should have access to electricity by 2010 and 90 percent by 2020. Norinco is a giant enterprise group dealing mainly with defence products, international engineering construction, petroleum and mineral resources exploration, optic-electronic products, civilian explosives and chemical products, vehicles, and logistics operations.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay (Latest Update December 25, 2007)

Laos and Cambodia boost cooperation on Energy

(KPL) The Lao PDR will export 115 KV, 90 MW of electricity to the Royal of Cambodia since 2010. The contract for export of electricity to Cambodia was signed on 29 December in Phnom Penh, Cambodia between Mr Khammany Inthilath, Director General of the Lao Electricity State Enterprise, Ministry of Energy and Mines and Mr Hew Van Than, Deputy General of the Cambodia Electricity Enterprise.
Mr. Someboun Laszasombath, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines of Laos, Mr Ispeng, Deputy Minister of Industrial, Mines and Energy of Cambodia, and senior officials concern from two countries witnessed the event.
Mr. Khammany Inthilath disclosed to the press that the signing of this contract was based on the MoU signed between the two sides on 2 November 2006 in Vientiane. According to the contract, the Lao side will build the 115 kv High Voltage transmission line from station of Ban Hat, Khong district, Champassak province to the Laos-Cambodia border check point with the length of 26 km with the US$ 2.7 million assistance from World Bank and 20% contributed fund of the Lao Electricity State Enterprise.
While the Cambodia side will construct the 115 KV transmission line system from its border to the electricity station of Xiengtang province with the length of 56 km.
The first phase of export will start from 2010-2014 and the sides then will further discuss about the next phases. The Cambodia is the second country in this region who buy electricity from Lao PDR. The electricity produced in the southern provinces dams of Laos will be divided for local consumption and export to Cambodia.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Thailand ups demand for Lao energy

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on energy development in Laos was signed between the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Thai Ministry of Energy on Saturday in Vientiane.

“The MoU calls for Laos to provide 7,000MW of energy after 2015,” said the Lao Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr Bosaikham Vongdara, at the signing ceremony.

Dr Bosaikham said that under the agreement Laos will have to generate 5,000MW for sale to Thailand from now until 2015, and a further 2,000MW after this date.

The Lao government and hydropower developers are now building several plants to meet this demand.

These include the Theun-Hinboun expansion, Nam Ngum 3, Nam Ngiep 1, Nam Theun 1, and the Hongsa lignite-fired power plant project.

The Thai Minister of Energy, Dr Piyasavasti Amaranand, said at the ceremony that purchase agreements had already been signed for energy supply to Thailand, from power generated by the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) and Nam Ngum 2 (NN2). These projects are now under construction.

NT2 will have an installed capacity of 1,070MW and NN2 in Vientiane province will have an installed capacity of 615MW.

Dr Piyasavasti said Laos and Thailand have been cooperating in this field since 1992; in 1993 Thailand required only 1,500MW, but this had since increased dramatically.

Currently, about 10 projects, including hydro-power and lignite, are lined up to sell electricity to Thailand; all of these must be completed before 2015 and will have a combined installation capacity of more than 5,000MW. Many of these projects are being developed by individual investors.

Some have already begun generating electricity, while others are still in the planning or construction phase, or expanding their capacity.

Laos currently has a combined installation capacity of about 670MW from 11 major and 40 smaller and medium hydropower plants generating energy for both domestic and export markets. They generate about 3.5 billion kWh per year, of which about 2.2 billion kWh is exported to Thailand.

Export demand is still high, with Vietnam purchasing 3,000MW of electricity from now until 2020.

By 2020, the government aims to have 29 major hydropower development schemes in place, with a total capacity of about 8,657MW, said the Deputy Director General of the Lao Energy Promotion and Development Department, Mr Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha, in an interview in June.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update December 24, 2007)