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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)

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