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Monday, February 18, 2008

Nam Theun 2 ahead of schedule

Overall construction of the Nam Theun 2 hydropower plant, a major joint venture between the Lao government and foreign companies, is now 80 percent complete, according to a senior energy official.

Deputy Director General of the Energy Promotion and Development Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Mr Sichad Bounsakittilath, said yesterday that the US$1.2 billion hydropower project, in which the Lao government holds a 25 percent share, would be finished on schedule.

The construction of the 1,070 MW hydropower plant started in 2005, and was expected to take 55 months to complete over five main sites – the construction of the dam on Nakhai Plateau, water tunnels from the dam to the hydropower plant, the downstream watershed, the installation of the power plant and power grids from the plant.

“We have completed 80 percent of the overall construction work in just 30 months, and we believe that in the remaining time we will finalise construction in late 2009 as planned,” he told Vientiane Times after meeting with a group of consultants from the Asian Development Bank.

Mr Sichad, who is the Lao government's coordinator on the project, said construction was ahead of schedule thanks to the cooperation of all sectors concerned, particularly the government, which has strongly supported the project and assisted the construction companies in their work.

He said that 1,350 familie s, some 6,000 people, living on the project site had been relocated to a new development area, where most now had new houses and farmland; he confirmed that the rest would have permanent accommodation within the next few months.

He said the project would build more houses to accommodate them, and those relocated would be hired as labourers to build their own houses; each family has been provided with construction materials and a supervisor.

Regarding the clearing of the dam area, Mr Sichad said the government had allowed local companies to cut down trees and transport them out of the area.

This work is expected to be finished before June.

He said that if all the work was finished according to plan, the project would be able to close the dam gates in mid-June to store water for electricity generation, adding that it will take six months to flood the dam area.

Mr Sichad said that 95 percent of the electricity generated by the plant will be exported to Thailand ; the remaining 5 percent will be available for domestic consumption.

The project is expected to generate US$280 million a year, with the Lao government receiving US$80 million a year in revenue, taxes, royalties and dividends.

By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update February 12, 2008)

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