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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nam Ngieb 1 hydropower project helps resettlement

(KPL) More than 170 families out of a total of 490 families living of the villages of Thavieng and Thathom, who are affected by the construction of Nam Ngieb 1 hydropower dam, are expected to resettlement this year.
These families are classified as poor and their living conditions are impacted by the construction of the Nam Ngieb hydropower dam in Xiengkhouang province.
The programme will provide settlement to 174 poor families this year.
In order to deal with the environment impact, Xiengkhouang province organised a meeting last week, to discuss environment impact from the Nam Ngieb 1 hydropower construction in Thavieng and Thathom areas.
Chaired by Mr Viengthanoum Phommachanh, Governor of Xiengkhouang province, the meeting was participated by 60 representatives from the construction companies of Kansai Electric Power Co. of Japan, Electricite du Laos and Thai Electricity Companies, and local residents who are affected by the construction project.
The meeting has agreed to relocate the 174 families in Thavieng and Thathom areas to the riverside area of the Nam Ngieb river.
The constructing companies will take responsibility for all costs and problems involved in the resettlement in the future.

Raising awareness on saving electricity

(KPL) A ceremony to launch The Promotion and Creation of Awareness on Saving Electricity was held on 29 April at Lane-Xang hotel, Vientiane.
The event was chaired by Deputy Minister of Energy and Mining Mr. Somboune Rasasombath, and attended by director of Electricite du Lao (EDL), Head of energy and mining ministry’s office, representatives of World Bank and concern sectors.
This project was established on 2 February 2007 and managed by EDL with a financial support from the World Bank (WB) to reduce high expense on power.
This project constitutes very significant to contribute to the promotion of power efficiency, to reduce state budget loss on electricity, which is increasing annually and encourage the society to participate in power efficiency.
Participants of the meeting also reviewed the implementation of first phase of the management of electricity use project.

Nam Ngum 5 Hydropower starts construction

(KPL) The construction of a 120 KW- Nam Ngum 5 Hydropower plant started at the end of last month.
Present at the opening ceremony of Nam Ngum 5 construction on 28 April were Deputy Minister of Energy and Mining Mr. Somboune Latsasombath, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith, President of Sino Hydro Co., (China) and relevant officials.
Nam Ngum 5 is located at Phoukhoune district, Luang Prabang province. The project costs US$200 million, a joint venture investment between Chinese investor and Electricite du Lao. The project is on a basis of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT). After completing the plant will operate privately for 25 years before transferring to the government of Laos.
Chinese investor holds 85% of the total shares of the investment project and the Lao government takes the rest.
Nam Ngum 5 Hydropower plant construction is scheduled for completing in 2011. The plant is projected to generate 507 GWH annually.
Although the construction was officially launched last month, roads accessing the dam and diversion tunnel of the dam have been constructed and dug months ago.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chinese studies Sepon III Hydropower Project

(KPL) A memorandum of understanding on Sepon III Hydropower Project was signed here on Monday by the Lao government and the Chinese National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Co-operation (CMEC).
It is expected that the project will have its hydropower plant built in Samouy district, Saravan province, which is part of Government's development plan to produce electricity for export to neighbouring countries.
Signatories to the MOU were Deputy Minister of Investment and Planing Mr. Thongmy Phomvisay, Head of Energy Development and Promotion Department of Energy and Mining Mr. Saypaseuth Patsoupha, Deputy President of CMEC Mr. Jin Chun Sheng and Director of CMEC Mr. Guo Ying Xin in the presence of Governor of Saravan province and relevant officials of both sides.
The MOU says Lao government has allowed CMEC to conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of the project within 18 months after signing.
If the study shows the project is economically beneficial and environment friendly, the Sepon III Hydropower Project will be developed in 30 year-concession through Build-Own-Transfer (BOT) procedure.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Transmission lines link northern part

(KPL) The Electricite du Laos (EDL) and the China International Water and Electricity (CWE) have inked an agreement on the installation of 230 kV transmission lines linking the northern part of the country.
The two sides signed an agreement, on 4 April for the installation of the 230-kV-transmission line from Hinheub district, Vientiane province, to Nasaithong district, Vientiane Capital, with the construction of substations in Vientiane province.
The signatories to the document were EDL Director General and the CWE President. The signing was witnessed by Minister of Energy and Mining Bosaikham Vongdala, Chinese Ambassador to Laos and other senior officials of both sides.
This project is aimed at strengthening the capacity building for future power grids in Laos which will serve as a main transmission line between the hydropower dams in the northern region such as Nam Lik I, II, Nam Ngum V and the Hongsa Lignite Power Plant in Sayaboury province.
The substations will be built at Ban Done, Hinheub, Nasaithong and Phontong, with the installation of a 17-km long 115-kV transmission line between Ban Done and Hinheub substations, a 71.5-km long 230-kV transmission line from the substations at Hinheub to Nasaithong, and a 12-km long 115-kV from Nasaithong to Phontong substatations.

Govt grives the green light to Nam Lik I hydropower plant

(KPL) The government has allowed Hydro Engineering (Thailand) to develop Nam Lik I Hydropower Plant in Vientiane province, according to its newly signed agreement with the foreign investor.
The agreement was signed on 8 April in Vientiane among the witness by Deputy Minister to Prime Minister�s Office Dr. Boviengkham Vongdara, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mining Mr. Somboune Lasasombath and concerned officials.
In July 2006 the contact company signed an MOU on feasibility study on the project with the government of Laos.
After its construction complete, with an investment of 109 million US dollars, the plant in Hine Heup district of Vientiane province could generate 249 Gwh a year.

Bidding contract signed for power project in Laos

(KPL) A 42.36 million USD bidding contract for the supply of electrical equipment and technical services for the Vietnamese-invested Sekaman hydropower project in Laos was signed in Hanoi on April 17.
The contract was signed between Sekaman 3 Co. Ltd. of the Vietnam-Laos Electrical Joint Stock Company and Vatech-Hydro GmbH of Austria.
Vatech-Hydro GmbH won over four other bidders to supply 250 MW capacity electrical turbines for the plant.
The project will be built in Dakchung district of Sekong province at the cost of 273.1 million USD. It is expected to produce over 1 billion Kwh of power, of which 90 percent will be sold to Vietnam. The project is scheduled for completion in September 2010.

Nam Theun 2 reservoir begins to fill

The Nam Theun 2 (NT2) hydropower project has began the impoundment process, meaning the storing of water, with the sealing of the diversion tunnel that will cause dam water levels to rise and ultimately fill the reservoir.

“From now on, water will begin to fill the Nakai reservoir, but a small flow will be released downstream for fisheries and environmental purposes,” said the Chief Executive Officer of Nam Theun 2 Power Company Limited, Mr Jean Pierre Katz, at a ceremony last Thursday to mark the closure of the diversion tunnel.

The ceremony was held at the Nakai dam site in Khamkeuth district, Borikhamxay province, in the presence of Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad.

The closure of the tunnel will result in 80 sq km of land being flooded.

“The tunnel closure is the first step in the reservoir impoundment process, before the dam gates are closed in June,” said Minister of Energy and Mines Bosaikham Vongdara.

The tunnel was built to divert the Theun River around the dam site during construction. Water will now be released through the dam gates.

Mr Bosaikham said the independent Panel of Experts on Environment (POE) had been monitoring and assessing project implementation so far and had approved the closure of the diversion channel.

The POE has been monitoring the project since 1997. They have constantly referred to the concession agreement that underpins the project, highlighting the importance of this accord in achieving the desired social and environmental outcomes of the venture.

“This step of closing the tunnel occurs towards the final phase of the project, and shows the venture is well on track,” said the Deputy Director General of the Energy Promotion and Development Department, Mr Sychath Boutsakitirath.

Project construction began in mid 2005, and is now 85 percent complete.

Mr Bosaikham said trial electricity production would begin in March next year and official commercial operations would begin by the end of 2009.

Investment in the project is worth more than 11.8 trillion kip (US$1.2 billion). The plant will have an installed capacity of 1,070MW with six generators for electricity supply to both local and export markets. Thailand will buy 995MW of electricity, and 75MW will be used for domestic consumption.

The hydropower plant is a joint venture between the Lao government, which holds a 25 percent shareholding, and foreign investors from Thailand and France who hold the remaining 75 percent. Financing involved 26 international banks including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Investment Bank and Agence Francaise de Developpement.

“After completion, the plant will contribute about US$80 million per year to the national budget over the 25 year concession period,” Mr Bosaikham said.

NT2 will bring about indirect benefits to local communities through socio-economic development projects such as infrastructure installation including roads, schools, hospitals and other public facilities. The project will also provide local communities with electricity and clean drinking water.

By Vientiane Times
(Latest Update April 18, 2008)

Work to start on Lao-Cambodian power line

Electricity generated by the Xeset 2 powerhouse, seen here under construction in Lau-ngam district in Saravan province last December, will be sold to Cambodia starting in 2010.

The installation of 115kV transmission lines between Laos and Cambodia will begin by the end of this year, giving Laos a new electricity export market, said a project official.

The power lines will run for 26km, from Hat village in Khong district, Champassak province, to the border, where they will connect with a 54km line from Cambodia .

“The total cost of the Ban Hat Lao-Cambodian 115kV Transmission Lines and Ban Hat Substation Extension Project will be about 23 billion kip (US$2.6 million),” said Project Manager Khamsing Phosalath on Thursday.

Funding was loaned to Electricite du Laos by the government for the installation, as part of grant aid received from the World Bank.

“The installation is expected to be completed by the end of next year,” said Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Somboun Rasasombath at the annual meeting of the energy and mining sectors recently in Vientiane .

The project is now seeking tenders for the work and has been advertising for bidders for the last two months.

“A few companies are interested and we will make an announcement of the winning bidder in June,” Mr Khamsing said.

The project will allow the sale of hydropower from Champassak province to Siem Pang district in Stung Treng province, Cambodia .

“Transmission is expected to begin by 2010. The initial supply will be about 5MW but it may be increased as needed,” Mr Somboun said.

Laos and Cambodia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on energy purchase in December last year. This was the initial move for the sale of Lao electricity to Cambodia , and an important step in the cooperation of the two energy sectors.

But the two governments have yet to agree on how many megawatts Laos will sell to Cambodia and over what period of time.

Currently Laos has MoUs to provide 5,000MW to Thailand until 2015, and a further 2,000MW after this date until 2020. Vietnam has also agreed to purchase 5,000MW of electricity from now until 2020.

Laos has a combined energy production capacity of about 670MW from 11 major and 40 medium-sized hydropower plants, which generate power for both domestic consumption and export.

By 2020, the Lao energy sector hopes to have an installation capacity of 30,000MW from dams currently under construction or planned along the Mekong River and its tributaries. This goal may be achieved now that more investors are conducting studies at several places in the country.

This is fundamental to the Lao government's intention, announced at the 10 th Asean Summit in 2004 in Vientiane , to become the ‘battery of the region'.

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update April 21, 2008)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tunnel closure takes Nam Theun 2 project nearer completion

(KPL) The Nam Theun 2 hydropower project on 10 April moved one step nearer completion with the sealing of the diversion tunnel which will see the water level start to rise and ultimately fill the Nam Theun 2 reservoir, a process referred to as impoundment.
The tunnel was officially closed in a ceremony that took place at the Nakai dam site in Khamkeuth district, Borikhamxay province, Lao PDR in the presence of Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Standing Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
This closure will result in the flooding of 80sq km of land and is the first step in the process of impoundment: The dam gates are scheduled to close in June 2008.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Energy Promotion and Development Mr Sychath Boutsakitirath said the tunnel closure represented an important milestone in the development of hydropower in Lao PDR.
"This step toward the final completion of the NT2 project is one we have been anticipating with some enthusiasm, as it means the project is well on track and impoundment can begin this wet season," he said.
"We are delighted with the progress of the project as it represents a vital contribution to the Lao economy and the Lao people and will playa substantial role in helping the Government meet its poverty alleviation goals."
The tunnel was built to divert the Nam Theun river around the dam construction site so water flow could be better managed during the construction phase. Water will now be released through the dam gates.
The Nam Theun 2 project is 85% complete and on schedule for its planned start of operation in 2009. Commissioning of the Nam Theun 2 hydropower plant is set for the beginning of March 2009 and commercial operations will commence in December 2009.
The tunnel closure follows the agreement by an independent international Panel of Experts (PoE) late last week that the project operators and the Lao Government had met their obligations in the Social and Environmental Management Framework and Operational Plan. In January the PoE outlined several key areas it suggested needed addressing before the tunnel closure and its latest report says it is now satisfied that these requirements have been met or are sufficiently far advanced. The report made special comment that completion of the necessary tasks had been achieved much faster than the panel had anticipated; in fact the PoE noted that the rapid and effective responses by the Lao Government and Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) had indeed been impressive.
Recommendations included successful resettlement of all affected people, establishment of a reservoir management committee, completion of essential infrastructure and housing, removing of the reservoir biomass, establishment of fishing and agriculture rights, livestock replacement and a protein provision program for 37 villages below the dam.
The PoE, which has been involved in monitoring the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project since 1997, has filed 14 reports to date and they have constantly referred to the Concession Agreement that underpins the project, highlighting the importance of this agreement in achieving the social and environmental outcomes being pursued. The three-member panel routinely submits its findings to the Ministry of Energy & MInes, at the same time referring recommendations to the NTPC where appropriate.
It has stated that it believes NT2 has the potential to be a world class model of a large scale project that could benefit the nation, the people and the environment.
With its installed capacity of 1070 MW, NT2 is the largest hydropower project to be constructed in Lao PDR to date. It is a joint investment between the Government of Laos and foreign investors in the form of a build, operate and transfer (BOT) project. Nam Theun 2 Power Company Limited (NTPC) was established under Lao PDR law, being the owner of the Project. Shareholders are the Lao Holding State Enterprise (25%), Electricity Generating Public Company Limited (25%), Electricite de France International (35%) and Italian-Thai Development Public Company Limited (15%). Financing involved 26 international banks including international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, and Agence Francaise de Developpement.
The bulk of the power generated by the project will be exported to Thailand but 75MW will be earmarked for Lao domestic use.
In the past, more than 6.000 poor peoples used to practice slash-and-burn activities in Nakai plateau. With the support of the Government and NTPC, they have learned new occupations on the basis of the sustainable utilization and management of natural resources. With regard to the Nakai-Nam Theun watershed management, the Project will provide 1 millions US annually to relevant government's agencies for 25 years. Those agencies will have the duty to protect the habitats of wildlife animals and the abundance of the biodiversity of the 4000 km2 Nam Theun 2 Watershed area. The released water from the plant will supply the irrigated areas covering thousand of hectares in Xe Bang Fay, Gnommalath and Mahaxai districts. During the construction phase, a large number of employments were created; technology was transferred thus generating an income of 5000-7000 people every year. Therefore, we can proudly say that apart from being an industrial and business project, the Nam
“Theun 2 project is also a development project that aims to reduce the poverty in Laos.
This project started its overall construction in mid 2005 after received the official support from the international financial institutions. Up to now, the construction has been conducted for 33 months out of the 55 scheduled months and the construction works are 85 % completed,” Mr Bosaikham Vongdara, Minister of Energy and Mines, said.
The Nam Theun 2 Project and the Lao Government have accomplished the implementation of the socio-environment programs (infrastructure construction, sustainable livelihood program for resettled people, downstream livelihood development program, the water sources protection and biodiversity program, the salvage logging programs) to be implemented fully in accordance with the conditions stipulated in the Concession Agreement. Last week, after accomplishing their mission conducted between 25 March -5 April 2008, the independent Panel of Expert on Environment or POE, who have been monitoring and assessing the project implementation so far, have agreed and supported the closure of the tunnel to be held on 10 April 2008 as planned.
The tunnel closure is the first step for reservoir impoundment before moving towards the closure of the dam gates in mid June 2008. The trial beginning of production in early March 2009 and the official beginning of production in December 2009 will constitute important milestones of the success of the Nam Theun Project construction.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Investor studies Champassak hydropower project

A Thai company has taken steps towards a hydropower project on the Mekong River in Champassak province that could be worth upwards of US$1 billion if it is built.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Thongmy Phomvixay ( right ) exchanges agreements with Charoen Energy and Water Asia Co. Chairman Chatchaval Jiaravanon.

On Wednesday, the Lao government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Charoen Energy and Water Asia Co., allowing the company to conduct a study aimed at determining whether the project would be viable.

Company Chairman Chatchaval Jiaravanon said the project was focused on establishing a hydropower station which would have an installation capacity of 800MW, meaning it would use this amount of power in the generating process.

The study will provide the investor with detailed project information so the company can decide whether the project should proceed to the development stage.

The project, called Lat Seua Hydroelectric Power, is located between Latseua village in Sanasomboun district and Khanyang village, Phonthong district, Champassak province, and according to project coordinator Bountao Phichit, could cost about 10.5 trillion kip (US$1.2 billion).

If the results of the study show the project to be economically viable, it is planned the hydropower station would have an operating period of 30 years, including the construction period.

“The energy generated from this project will be exported to Thailand ,” said Mr Chatchaval.

Laos currently has a combined installation capacity of about 670MW from 11 major and 40 medium-sized hydropower plants generating energy for domestic and export markets. They generate approximately 3.5 billion kWh per year, of which about 2.2 billion kWh is exported to Thailand .

By 2020 Laos hopes to have energy generation with an installation capacity of 30,000MW from hydropower projects currently being built or planned along the Mekong River and its tributaries.

Laos may achieve its goal of 30,000MW now that energy investors are studying hydropower projects in several sites on the Mekong River .

Lao Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith and Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Noppadon Pattama recently sig ned in Vientiane a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in an electricity development project.

The two nations agreed to allow a private firm to conduct a feasibility study of a proposed project in Koum village, Champassak province, Laos , located on the Mekong River opposite Khong Chiam district in Ubon Ratchathani province, Thailand .

By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update April 4, 2008)

Nationwide meeting on energy and mining closed

(KPL) A three day nationwide meeting of energy and mining sector held on 1 April was officially closed last week in the presence of Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh.
Among the guest at the closing ceremony included ministers, deputy ministers, governors and deputy governors and directors, deputy directors of energy and mining service nation-wide.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Mr. Bosaikham Vongdala, Minister of Energy and Mining highlighted the activities of the session made during the past three days , especially the comments given by participants for improving the strategy for energy and mining development from now to 2020 and draft decree of exporting ores.
He added that many participants has supported the construction of hydropower plant and mining exploitation but some of them has suggested the government to build clearly policy for electricity and ores development.
On this occasion, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh also praised all achievements gained by energy and mining sector in the past, which is a part of main contribution for social-economic development of the country. He also urged all officials, especially those who are working in the energy and mining sector to continue keeping their traditional spirit and great efforts to develop this sector as the main tool for social-economic development of the country in the future.

Laos aims to export 8,000 MW electricity by 2020

(KPL) Laos is ramping up preparations for the construction of 29 new power plants in order to reach a target of exporting 8,000 MW of electricity by 2020.
Energy and mining has been identified by the Lao government as one of the key industries of the nation’s large socio-economic development programmes. So far, more than 130 companies have been granted licences to develop 200 electricity generating projects.
At the Greater Mekong Subregion’s third summit held late last week in Vientiane , Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh reiterated government policies of giving priorities to developing hydro-power plants in particular and the energy and mining industry in general.
Citing government sources, local media said the government will continue to revise laws and regulations on energy and mining to make them aligned with regional and international standards as well as more favourable for both domestic and foreign investors.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

New rush to dam Mekong alarms environmentalists

Hanoi, March 28: The Mekong River, the world`s 12th largest waterway crossing six countries, may soon be tamed by a cascade of mega dams, but critics say the plan will harm the fish stocks millions of people rely on.

Plans for a series of Mekong mainstream dams have been made and scrapped several times since the 1960s, but now, with oil above USD 100 a barrel, the projects look more appealing than ever to their proponents.

The river`s future will be a key issue when prime ministers of the Mekong countries meet on Sunday and Monday in the Lao capital Vientiane for a summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), with the Asian Development Bank.

The 4,800-kilometre river originates in the Tibetan plateau of China, where it is called the Lancang, before running through Yunnan province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to the South China Sea.

To the pro-development lobby, the Mekong is a dream of hydropower potential for an energy-hungry region. To environmentalists, it`s a nightmare.

Laos, Cambodia and Thailand have all allowed Chinese, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese companies to study at least seven mainstream hydropower projects.

The new projects on the drawing board are "a serious threat to the river`s ecology" and the millions who depend on it for water, food, income and transport, said Carl Middleton of environmental watchdog international rivers.

"By changing the river`s hydrology, blocking fish migration and affecting the river`s ecology, the construction of dams on the lower Mekong mainstream will have repercussions throughout the entire basin.

Bureau Report