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Friday, January 18, 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)

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