Khammouane, Lao PDR, December 9, 2010 – After over a decade of consultation and planning, plus five years of construction, the Nam Theun 2 Multi-Purpose Project has been officially inaugurated in Khammouane province of the Lao PDR. The Lao President, Mr Choummaly Sayasone and the Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr Abhisit Vejjajiva, joined representatives of France and the many supporting Lao and international institutions and companies at the 1,070-MW Nam Theun 2 Power Station to celebrate the operation of project.
President Choummaly thanked the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other financial institutions and development agencies who have made Nam Theun 2 possible, describing the project as an investment that provides Laos with maximum benefit from its resources without depleting them. “This project harnesses the natural power of our water and mountains”, said Mr Choummaly, “and allows us to help our people improve their lives”.
The Lao leader also expressed thanks to the Thai and French governments and investors who backed the project, even during the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. He said their efforts have produced a world-class hydropower facility that shows how investment in communities and the environment can bring benefits across society. The project’s extensive social and environmental programmes, which include participatory planning and resettlement, livelihoods assistance and the protection of Laos’s largest national biodiversity area, have been widely acknowledged as exemplary.
The Thai Prime Minister and the French Secretary of State with responsibility for foreign trade, Pierre Lellouche, both paid tribute to the vision of the instigators of the project, the Lao government, international financial institutions, and private companies from Thailand and France who planned and built Nam Theun 2. The presidents of Electricité de France (EDF), and the Electricity Generating Company of Thailand (EGCO), the foreign shareholders in the Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC), were among several recipients of awards from the Lao government at the ceremony in recognition of their contribution to Lao development. Nam Theun 2 will contribute around US$2 billion to the Lao treasury over its first 25 years of operation and is also providing significant economic stimulation to the provinces around the project.
Mr Haruhiko Kuroda, the ADB President, said the importance of Nam Theun 2 to the Lao economy cannot be overemphasised as it will reduce the country's dependence on international aid, improve living standards, and contribute to deeper regional integration. He noted that the government is already investing revenues from the project in education, health, rural roads and electrification, and environmental programmes. Mr Kuroda added that NTPC still faced challenges in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for people affected by the project, and that the ADB, together with partners such as the European Investment Bank and Agence Française de Développement, remained firmly committed to addressing these challenges.
The Managing Director of the World Bank, Mrs Sri Mulyani Indrawati, called Nam Theun 2 a feat of engineering, a boon to conservation, and an aid to capacity building and revenue management. She said the project has been truly transformational for Laos, showing that large industrial projects can contribute to socially and environmentally sustainable development, and that the private sector and public sectors can work together to reduce poverty and support environmental protection.
Nam Theun 2 began commercial export of electricity in March 2010, and agreed an official commercial operations date of April 30 with its main customer, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. It also supplies around 20% of peak Lao demand electricity.