Russia's energy company Regent Oil says it will proceed with its plan to invest in four hydro-power projects in Laos' Sekong an Attapeu provinces. Company officials say they have completed feasibility studies on two of the projects - the Sekong 4 and the Nam Kong 1 dams - and will submit the results to Lao authorities for review and approval.
The Russian company says, upon approval of the feasibility studies, it will start building roads into project areas. The Lao government granted land concessions to build the four dams to Regent Oil in 2007. Feasibility studies for the other two projects, Sekong 5 and Nam Kong 3, are expected to complete soon.
The four dams, with an estimated cost 1.7 billion dollars, are expected to be up and running in 2013, with a total capacity of 1,200 megawatts. The electricity will be exported to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
The Russian investments are parts of the Lao government's plan to build as many as 29 dams by 2020 so that it can export more than 8,000 megawatts of electricity. Laos currently has signed MOUs with three neighbors, with 7,000 megawatts going to Thailand, 2,000 MW to Vietnam, and 1,000 MW to Cambodia. Laos' biggest dam project being constructed is the Nam Theun 2, which is objected by environmentalists but backed by the World Bank and the Asian Development.
Lao officials say they will use revenues from power exports on national development projects to eradicate poverty and lift their nation out of the least-developed country status by 2020 as planned.
Listen to our report for details in Lao.