Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chinese firms to have stakes in two mega dams

By Moe Thu

Rangoon (Mizzima News) - Business stakeholders from Burma, China and Thailand are into discussions for Chinese investors to involve themselves in two huge hydro power dams in Burma, said a Rangoon-based energy expert.

The two multi-billion-dollar projects on the Salween River are being developed by Thailand's MDX Group and Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, both of which have joint ventures with Burma's Ministry of Electric Power (1).

“A few Chinese firms are holding discussions with officials concerned to participate in the two projects -- Tasang and Hatgyi,” said the expert.

The Tasang hydropower project, worth US$ 7 billion, is the largest Thai investment in Burma. It will generate an estimated 7,100 megawatts (MW) and is being operated by Thailand’s MDX Group, while the US$1 billion Hatgyi project is being developed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT).

However, the expert, who wished not to be named for fear of reprisal, refused to comment on how many shares the Chinese side will take.

The Tasang project, located about 75 kilometres from the Thai border, will be 868 metres long and 227 metres high and will be the biggest dam ever and is scheduled to become functional in 2022.

A joint venture agreement to build the dam was signed in Rangoon in April 2006 between Burma and MDX Group. The pre-feasibility study started in 1997.

The expert said the Burmese side was delaying building the Tasang project and that the actual construction only started in early 2007 but was suspended shortly thereafter.

The Tasang project, one of the five mega hydropower projects on the Salween River, is being jointly developed by Burma and Thailand.

Meanwhile, the expert said China is negotiating to participate in the $1 billion Hatgyi project on Salween River in Karen State. China’s Sinohydro Corp will be the investor in the Hatgyi project that is located in the conflict zone between the Karen rebels and the Burmese Army.

Two EGAT technicians were killed while on a survey at the dam site in 2007, forcing the EGAT to halt the survey work.

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