Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam, Lao PDR


<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The Nam Theun 2 dam is currently the largest hydro-electric power plant in Lao PDR. In spite of being a supposed ‘showpiece’ project, it has been associated to large negative social and environmental impacts.</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Already in 1927, the site was first described as potential area for a dam project. First studies and concessions followed in the 1990s, but the project was put on ice due to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It returned on the development agenda in 2003, with the signing of a long-term power purchase agreement between Laos and Thailand, assuring the export of more than 90% of the dam’s generated electricity to Thailand. A consortium of corporations from Thailand, France and Laos was formed to establish the operating company NTPC (Nam Theun 2 Power Company Limited), supported by the World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank. Already since planning, the projects was accompanied by protests of villagers and environmental organizations (1;6;8). Public consultation with affected communities was reported to be inadequate and incomplete (7) and petitions to stop the project were supported by 153 NGO's from 43 countries (9). In spite of these CSO efforts, it was approved by the World Bank on March 31, 2005. Having achieved the largest foreign investment ever in Lao PDR’s hydro-sector, NTPC started the construction in 2005 and commercial operation was ready in April 2010 (1;2). According to a World Bank spokesperson, the Nam Theun 2 dam has been “a project that has seen a lot of thought put into its side-effects on the environment and the local communities” (3;10).<br/><br/>However, the dam reality has differed largely from the underlying development rhetoric. Large negative impacts on the environment and communities have been associated to the project, which have not been accounted for, or properly compensated. While the 6,200 displaced indigenous people may have better physical infrastructure in their newly build villages, the quality of the land plots received for compensation has been questioned. While some villagers may be better off, others are facing food shortages. In spite of governmental livelihood programs, many questions remain open regarding the long-term opportunities of the resettled. In downstream communities, over 110,000 people face increasing problems of poor water quality and decreasing fish catch – impacts that have not been accounted for, or not fully compensated. Women and indigenous communities seem to be more affected, unable to take advantage from official compensation programs. Regarding environmental issues, an area of 45,300ha needed to be flooded. The establishment of a large protected area surrounding the dam was argued to improve governance of natural reserves. However, the dam construction opened new access-ways into the forest, facilitating increased illegal logging such as rosewood, and poaching of wildlife (4;7). Too late, also World Bank consultants involved in the project realized that the “Nam Theun 2 confirmed […]that the task of building a large dam is just too complex and too damaging to priceless natural resources,” (5).<br/><br/>Bearing in mind that the produced electricity does not benefit the area, but mainly neighbouring Thailand, the Nam Theun 2 dam can be understood as cross-border land grab for energy production, in which the benefits in terms of electricity and financial revenues have been largely appropriated by foreign countries and international corporations, while heavy social and environmental costs have been carried by local communities.<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam, Lao PDR</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/lao-pdr">Lao PDR</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Bolikhamxay province (main dam), Khammouane province (power station) and Savannakhet province (transmission line)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>MEDIUM regional level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Water Management</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Dams and water distribution conflicts<br /> Land acquisition conflicts</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/electricity'>Electricity</a><br /><a href='/commodity/water'>Water</a><br /><a href='/commodity/land'>Land</a></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The operating company Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) is comprised by an international consortium holding the following shares:</div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none">Electricité de France International (40%); the Electricity Generating Company of Thailand (35%); and Lao Holding State Enterprise (25%) (1).<br/><br/>The hydro-dam has an installed capacity of 1070 MW and is supposed to produce around 6000 GWh of electricity per year. (1)<br/><br/>Around 93% of the produced electricity is traded to neighbouring Thailand, under an agreement signed in 2003. (1)<br/><br/>Expected revenues for the Lao government amount to 1,9 - 2 billion dollars over the period of the first 25 years of operation (3).<br/><br/>The reservoir capacity covers 45,300 ha of forest area (1).<br/><br/>The flooding of the area required the displacement of 6,200 indigenous people (2).<br/><br/>The dam is 39m high (1)<br/><br/>in the course of construction, a nationally protected area was established, covering 400,000ha (1).<br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>45,300</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Level of Investment (in USD)</td><td>1,580,000,000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Rural</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>6200 (displaced) + 110,000 (affected downstream)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>31/03/2005</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/nam-theun-2-power-company-limited'>Nam Theun 2 Power Company Limited <small>(NTPC)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/lao-pdr'><small>Lao PDR</small></a> - <small>dam, hydro-electricity</small><br /><a href='/company/electricity-generating-authority-of-thailand'>Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand <small>(EGAT)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/thailand'><small>Thailand</small></a><br /><a href='/company/electricite-de-france-international'>Electricité de France International <small>(EDF)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/france'><small>France</small></a> - <small>energy, electricty, hydro-electric dams</small><br /><a href='/company/lao-holding-state-enterprise'>Lao Holding State Enterprise <small>(LHSE)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-company/lao-pdr'><small>Lao PDR</small></a> - <small>hydroelectric dams, </small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">International and Financial Institutions</td><td><a href='/institution/world-bank'>The World Bank <small>(WB)</small></a><br /><a href='/institution/asian-development-bank'>Asian Development Bank <small>(ADB)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-institution/philippines'><small>Philippines</small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>TERRA (Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance)<br/><br/>International Rivers</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Farmers<br /> Fishermen<br /> Indigenous groups or traditional communities<br /> International ejos<br /> Local ejos<br /> Ethnically/racially discriminated groups<br /> Local scientists/professionals</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Official complaint letters and petitions<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Street protest/marches</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Environmental Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Malnutrition</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>In operation</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Compensation<br /> Migration/displacement</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>The alternative proposal by villagers and environmentalists was to keep the area as it was. However, this was not achieved, and affected communities had to accept the alternative proposed by the project leaders - insufficient compensations. </td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>No</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The project was finished and is now in operation.</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> (4) Fact sheet from NGO International Rivers<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/nt2_factsheet_dec10.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (7) Guttal and Shoemaker 2004: Manipulating Consent: The World Bank and Public Consultation in the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project .Watershed Vol. 10 No. 1 July – October 2004<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.terraper.org/mainpage/images/keysub/1283328283_th.pdf" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (9) Brettonwoods on the project approval by the World Bank<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.brettonwoodsproject.org/2005/04/art-174503/" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (10) The "Doing a Dam Better" World bank report on the Nam Theun 2 dam<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2010/01/13240425/doing-dam-better-lao-peoples-democratic-republic-story-nam-theun-2-nt2" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> (1) Nam Theun 2 dam on wikipedia<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nam_Theun_2_Dam" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (2) NTPC Company website (accessed 06.02.2015)<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.namtheun2.com" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (3) BBC article (2007) on the Nam theun 2 dam<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7104254.stm" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (5) New York Times article (2014) on Nam Theun 2 dam<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/opinion/sunday/large-dams-just-arent-worth-the-cost.html?_r=1" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (6) 2005 Article on Probe International regarding villager protests<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://journal.probeinternational.org/2005/03/15/villagers-protest-nam-theun-2-dam-project/ " target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> (8) Asia News article on protests of environmentalists against the Nam Theun 2 dam<br/><a class="refanch small" href="http://www.asianews.it/news-en/New-dam-on-Nam-Theun-River-opens,-environmentalists-protest-20223.html" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Other Documents</td><td><table><tr><td><p><strong>Solidary Thai villagers protests against the Nam Theun 2 dam</strong> source: www.internationalrivers.org<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/www.internationalrivers.org__nt2_thaiprotest_doafr2005.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><strong>The Nam Theun 2 dam</strong> source: press.edf.com<br/><a class="refanch small" href="https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/press.edf.com_ill_cp_20100512_NamTheun.jpg" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / [email protected]</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>24/02/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>
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