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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

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)

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