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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        7  March 2011

Work starts on Laos hydroelectric plant

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Construction of the Sekaman 1 hydroelectric project kicked off in Laos's southern Attapeu Province yesterday as part of the Viet Nam-Lao energy co-operation programme.

The US$441 million project has a designed capacity of 322MW to produce 1.22 billion KWh per year, 20 percent of which will be consumed in Laos while the remainder will be transmitted back to Vietnam.

The project, located about 80 kilometers from the Vietnam-Laos border on the Sekaman River, is scheduled for completion by Vietnam's Song Da Corporation in late 2014.

In his address at the groundbreaking ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai stressed that the project was one of Vietnam's biggest overseas investment projects and was considered a symbol of cooperation between the two countries.

It was the biggest project in the energy exchange programme between the two countries, he said, adding that Vietnam would cooperate with Laos to invest in building more hydropower plants in the near future.

Lao Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavat said the project played an important role in the socioeconomic development of his country and would contribute to the traditional relations, comprehensive cooperation and special friendship between the two countries.

He said the project would pave the way for many other projects and contribute to helping the two countries' electricity cooperation strategy to reach 5,000MW by 2020.

Apart from the Sekaman 1 project, the Song Da Corporation has carried out research to implement six other hydropower projects in southern Laos with a total designed capacity of 1,400MW to produce around 5.4 billion KWh per year. Of which, the Sekaman 3 project is scheduled to be put into operation by late this year and construction of the Sekaman 4 and Sekong projects are expected to start in late 2011 or early 2012.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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