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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Electricity law needs to be amended to comply with economic growth

(KPL) The draft law on electricity needs to be amended to support the market-oriented mechanism and the electricity expansion, said Acting Minister of Energy and Mining Somboun Rassombath.
This was an explanation of Mr Somboun when he attended the fourth day of National Assembly Session of sixth legislative on 27 November.
The old version of the law on electricity, enforced in 1997, consisted of 12 chapters, 56 articles, considering as an important tool for public administration, electricity business development in Laos and was attractable investments from local and foreign investors. This law was a great contribution to the poverty reduction.
Presently, the socio-economic development has developed and market-oriented mechanism has also moved forward, particularly the electricity production activities. In order to support the development and expansion of infrastructure as well as economy in the new era, it needs to amend the electricity law to comply to realistic conditions with the national economic growth and international law in the region, he added.
Mr Somboun proposed the amended draft of law and arrangement regarding to charter, articles and content, and other term to be appropriated or not?.
In 1995, the number of the nationwide total household access to electricity amounted to only 30 percent (200 megawatts) now the number increases to 60 percent.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New hydropower plant set for southern Laos

(KPL) A consortium of foreign companies will proceed with a hydropower plant on the fringe between Champassak and Attapeu provinces, following a two-year feasibility study.
The SK Engineering and Construction, Korea Western Power and Ratchaburi Electricity Generation Holding signed an agreement with the Ministry of Planning and Investment last week to develop the Xe Pien-Xe Namnoi hydropower plant project.
Under the agreement, the companies will spend another 18 months designing the plant, selecting an exact location and assessing the social and environmental impacts of the project.
The Lao government has established a committee to assess the project and decide whether to grant a concession agreement which would allow investors to begin the construction of the power plant, it said.
The power plant will have a generation capacity of 390 MW and will be able to produce about 1.776 Gwh annually. The project is expected to cost about 500 million USD.
If the project proceeds, the Lao government will hold a 24 percent share in the project and will take over the full ownership on the plant after 25 years.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Power pact to receive assistance

MANILA — Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help develop a financing plan for a US$240 million power transmission project that will enable Laos to export hydro-electric power to Viet Nam.

The Japan Special Fund will provide, through ADB, a $1 million grant, while the Lao and Vietnamese governments will each contribute $150,000 to develop the plan.

The financing plan will involve the preparation of two loans, one each for Laos and Viet Nam. The loans will be structured and scheduled to suit the commercial operations schedule of the 11 hydro-power projects that will provide the 1,000 MW of electricity targeted for export.

The model and arrangements for the operation and maintenance of transmission facilities will also be drawn up.

Xavier Humbert, senior energy specialist of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, says the estimated cost of developing the power transmission facilities will be around $150 million in Laos and $120 million in Viet Nam.

Roughly $55 million has been included in ADB’s 2010 lending programme for financing the project but a budget plan for the development of the power transmission facilities still needs to be finalised, Humbert said. It will be completed after discussion with potential co-financiers in both countries.

The power transmission project has four components: a 65-km, 500kV double circuit transmission line to be built from the Ban Sok substation in Laos to the Viet Nam border; a 100 km, 500kV double circuit transmission line from Loas to the Pleiku substation in Viet Nam; a 500/230 kV Ban Sok sbustation in Laos; and an upgrade of the Pleiku station.

According to ADB, Laos has only tapped 663MW of its 18,000 MW hydropower potential.

"Maximising the countrys hydroelectric power potential is challenging due to financing constraints," says Humbert. "The government recognises this, and has been strongly promoting private sector involvement."

Given soft domestic demand, most of Laos’ hydropower is targeted for export. Earnings from the exports, in turn, help fund projects that provide rural areas with electricity as well as various social development projects and poverty reduction efforts.

In contrast, Viet Nam is faced with an alarming electricity supply deficit because of an average annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent over the last decade. The nation’s Sixth Power Development Plan (2006-2020) estimates domestic power demand to rise 16 per cent annually from 2006 to 2010, by 11 per cent a year from 2011 to 2015, and by 9 per cent annually until 2020.

To meet this demand, Viet Nam is turning to its neighbours, including Laos, to purchase electricity. In March, both countries signed an agreement transferring as much as 5,000 MW by 2020. — VNS

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

15th meeting of the MRC Council Meeting held

(KPL) The Mekong River Commission held the 15th meeting of the MRC council and the 13th Donor Consultative Group Meeting in Vientiane Capital on 7-8 November.

The meeting was chaired of Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad. And the event was attended by members of MRC council, delegations and representatives of Myanmar and development partners.

On the occasion Mr. Somsavat greeted welcome the delegation of the MRC council for working visit to Laos. Mme. Khempheng Pholsena, Council Chair for 2008-2009, also a Minister and Head of the Lao Water Resources and Environment Administration, said the Mekong River is revered as the 'mother of water' in Laos, as it nurtures and nourishes the rice fields and fish that form the background of the traditional economic and culture.

She added that cooperative resource and use sustainable water resources management are vital to sustaining the economic growth of the economies of the Mekong countries, and that in these matters the MRC is of great value to its member states.

This organization has an innate interest in balancing the use of the Mekong Basin's resources for the countries' mutual benefit and people's well-being with the need to preserve them for future generations to come, she said.

It also has the knowledge base and technical expertise to help us gain maximum benefit from these resources in the most sustainable manners.

The MRC Council, composed of ministers from each of the four Member States of Cambodia, the Laos PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, is the highest level of commission and meets once a year to make policy decisions and give guidance to the various programmes run by the MRC to implement the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin.

For the first time the Council meeting held a session with the Donor Consultative Croup, the countries and organisations that provide most of the MRC's funding. Jeremy Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat, stressed that the perspective of these development partners on the activities of the MRC, and their views on matters of substance, is extremely important. Over the days of meeting, the four countries and development partners discussed the permanent location of the MRC Secretariat, financial matters, and the progress of programmes such as the Basin Development Plan.The meeting is also discussing recent high-profile events to concern the MRC, including the Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on the MRC Hydropower Programme, also held in Vientiane in September, and the floods that occurred along the Mekong in Laos and Thailand during August.

The Hydropower Consultation marked the first time the issue has been discussed in detail by the four countries in the presence of a broad rang of Stakeholders, including participants from China and Myanmar. Mme. Khempheng praised the MRC's for taking a leading role, saying it is important to have a body that can give impartial and expert advice on this issue and serve as an avenue fro the Member States to jointly discuss and plan their developments.

Moreover, she continued, it can deliver views and information based on its knowledge and expertise and using the tools and processes established under the 1995 Mekong Agreement. In this context it is the role of the MRC to help counties build the needed capacities and institutions to make informed decision.

At the same day, the Danish Government signed an 18 million Danish Kroner (US$ 303 million) funding agreement over a two year period to support the work of the Fisheries Programme of the Mekong River Commission.

The agreement was signed by Mr. Peter Lysholt Hansen, Ambassador of Denmark to Vietnam and Lao PDR, on behalf of the government of the kingdom of Denmark and Mr. Jeremy Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) also signed a Euro 3 million (US$ 4.43) commitment over a two and half year period (December 2008-May 2011) for technical cooperation through GTZ to support the work of Mekong River Commission (MRC). The commitment was signed by Ms. Kerstin Henke, Country Officer for Lao PDR, Cambodia, MRC, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and Mr. Jeremy Bird.

Mr. Bird thanked the German and Danish Governments for their continued and general support of the MRC's work and said the new technical cooperation would be of great assistance in helping the MRC achieve the goals set up in their 2006-2010 strategic plan.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nongbouakham villagers are making more money

(KPL) The villagers of Nongbouakham village, located close to Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric project are now enjoying a higher standard of living because of the building of infrastructure and socio-economic development by this company and the villagers are using them, said the headman of Ban Nongbouakham, Nakai district of Khammouane province, Mr. Pin Soulasith.
This village is made up of the amalgamationnof four villages, Ban Nongbouakham, Ban Sobhear, Ban Sobma and Ban Namnien and this came about because the land of the villagers were acquired for the construction of this dam.
The vacation of their villages were made on 23 March 2007 and on this day all the people of the four villages, 330 of them from 63 households and 70 families went to reside in their new village.
The NT2 gave the villagers new houses, artisan wells, a primary school, a kindergarten, an integrated health center, an agricultural centre, a demonstration farm that only use organic fertiliser, electricity and also land for farming on the basis of 0.66 ha per family.
Now that they are in this new village many of the villagers are engaged in fishing, farming and general works and their average income per year is two million kip. Therefore, they are enjoying an increase in income as they were making an average of 500,000 to 600,000 kip per year when they living in the dispersed villages.