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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nam Theun 2 reaches project milestone

(KPL) The Lao government has signalled that the Nam Theun 2 Multi-Purpose Project has met its contractual obligations to date, as defined in the concession agreement between the government and the Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC).

The NTPC, owner and operator of the project, on November 5 2010 submitted to the government and its advisors a certificate listing the completion or partial completion of almost 140 requirements that the company is bound to fulfil. On December 3, the government gave its non-objection to the issue of this certificate.

The project requirements, mainly concerning environmental and social commitments and also design and performance standards, are detailed in the concession agreement signed in 2002. Around 50 of the requirements are accepted as complete, while those partially completed are acknowledged to be under implementation and ongoing. Examples include income improvements for resettled villagers, which are being achieved through an eight-year livelihoods support programme.

The project Dam Safety Review Panel (DSRP), comprised of international hydropower experts, has been monitoring the construction and operation of the industrial side of the project for the past five years, and on November 8 signalled acceptance that the Nam Theun 2 meets the requirements expected under international standards and under the concession agreement.

The International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts, or POE, has also signed its non-objection to the certificate, following detailed inspection of the project�s wide-ranging development and environmental protection programmes. The POE members, who have been monitoring the Nam Theun 2 Project for over 15 years, have stated that while the long-term social and environmental commitments of the NTPC are still a work in progress, the project is largely on track. The Lao government's non-objection, given following consultation with the POE and DSRP, was issued by the Ministry of Energy and Mining. The minister, H.E. Soulivong Daravong, said that the scope of the Nam Theun 2 was unprecedented, and that the NTPC and its partners had done a remarkable job to bring such a broad range of social improvements and environmental safeguards to an advanced stage in a relatively short time. According to Jean-Pierre Katz, the NTPC Chief Executive Officer, the job cannot be regarded as complete. "We must emphasise our continued responsibility to the people living around the project area and to the Lao government," said Mr Katz.

He explained that while people resettled by the project are currently enjoying greatly increased incomes, the NTPC will continue to work with village, district, provincial and national partners to ensure that this improvement is sustainable. The project must also prepare for the time when local people and authorities will continue the social and environmental work, so that residents of the Nam Theun 2 areas can benefit fully from the project.

The NTPC has provided reassurance to the government and the POE that we remain fully committed to the environmental and social goals of this multi-purpose investment, said Mr Katz. "We need to complete work that is only partially finished in certain areas, and must retain our focus and our financial and human resource commitments until the project targets, as defined by the concession agreement, are reached".

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