VIENTIANE, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Laos will undertake the Mekong River Commission's (MRC) prior consultation process for its Sanakham hydropower project, the sixth proposed project on the Mekong mainstream, an MRC press release said on Monday.
The run-of-river dam will operate continuously year-round and produce 684 megawatts of electricity, it said.
In its notification submitted to the MRC Secretariat based in Lao capital Vientiane, the Lao government provided a set of engineering documents and technical feasibility study, including the project's social and environmental impact assessments and sediment and fisheries study, which will be shared with other MRC member countries including Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the notification, the project's construction is expected to begin in 2020 and finish in 2028, the year the commercial operations are also set to begin. The energy generated by the project will mainly be exported to Thailand.
"Laos submitted the project as an intra-basin water use around the year on the mainstream of the Mekong River, which is subject to undergoing the prior consultation process. The submission will enable the notified Member Countries and members of the public to have detailed information and study of the project's water use and any potential impacts stemming from the project," said An Pich Hatda, CEO of the MRC Secretariat, according to the press release.
The prior consultation process normally lasts six months but could be extended further by the Joint Committee. It is not meant to approve or disapprove the proposed project.
The Sanakham project is approximately 1,737 km from the sea, lying about 155 km from Vientiane at downstream. The powerhouse is about 350 meters long and 58 meters high, and has 12 turbines, each producing 57 MW of electricity.
According to the submitted documents, Datang (Lao) Sanakham Hydropower Co. Ltd is listed as the project developer. The total cost of the project is estimated at 2,073 million U.S. dollars. Of these, about 27.7 million U.S. dollars are allocated for environmental and social mitigation measures and monitoring programs.
The MRC Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) is scheduled to meet on June 16 to discuss key issues around the prior consultation process of the project, including the starting date of the six-month process.
The MRC is an intergovernmental organization for regional dialogue and cooperation in the lower Mekong river basin, and was established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Enditem