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Sunday, April 20, 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)

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