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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)

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