Monday, 24 January 2011 15:01 Soeun Say
CONSTRUCTION of a hydroelectric power plant, being developed in a joint venture between Cambodia’s Royal Group and Vietnam Electricity Group, could begin this year according to Ministry of Industry Mines and Energy.
The Lower Sesan 2 hydro plant, said to be worth more than $700 million, is set to be located in Cambodia’s Stung Treng province on the Sesan river, a major tributary of the Mekong.
Bun Narith, director general for the hydroelectricity department at the Ministry of Industry Mines and Energy said yesterday: “They [the developers] have already finished studying [the site]. Now, we have only to negotiate and agree the development project. I think that it is possible to start construction this year.”
“We are hopeful that with this project Cambodia will have more electricity to respond to future consumption demands,” he added, stating that construction was due to end in 2016.
The statement followed media reports last week, citing the Vietnam Foreign Investment Agency, which stated Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment has licensed its development.
Royal Group stake
Royal Group chairman Kith Meng confirmed yesterday that Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) owned 51 percent of the venture, with the Cambodian conglomerate holding 49 percent.
The proposed plant’s capacity is estimated at 400MW, with an average output of 1998 million KWh per year. Bun Narith said initial studies took two years to complete.
Hydropower futureSince 2000, Cambodia has licensed private hydroelectric dam developments at least 21 sites across the country, in hope of generating enough power to meet Cambodia’s growing energy demand.
A total of 12 dams have been proposed for the Lower Mekong River, including two in Cambodia. During a meeting in November, it was reported Vietnamese premier Nguyen Tan Dung asked Hun Sen to speed up approval of the Sesan 2 hydropower dam, a message officials said Hun Sen relayed to Industry Minister Suy Sem.
Earlier this year, Meach Mean, project coordinator of the 3S Rivers Protection Network, expressed deep concerns over the upstream impact of the planned plant – particularly on fish stocks and water quality in Ratanakirri province.
The Post could not reach representatives from the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh for further comment yesterday.