Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam, Lao PDR


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.

See more...
Basic Data
NameNam Theun 2 hydropower dam, Lao PDR
CountryLao PDR
ProvinceBolikhamxay province (main dam), Khammouane province (power station) and Savannakhet province (transmission line)
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe operating company Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) is comprised by an international consortium holding the following shares:

Electricité de France International (40%); the Electricity Generating Company of Thailand (35%); and Lao Holding State Enterprise (25%) (1).

The hydro-dam has an installed capacity of 1070 MW and is supposed to produce around 6000 GWh of electricity per year. (1)

Around 93% of the produced electricity is traded to neighbouring Thailand, under an agreement signed in 2003. (1)

Expected revenues for the Lao government amount to 1,9 - 2 billion dollars over the period of the first 25 years of operation (3).

The reservoir capacity covers 45,300 ha of forest area (1).

The flooding of the area required the displacement of 6,200 indigenous people (2).

The dam is 39m high (1)

in the course of construction, a nationally protected area was established, covering 400,000ha (1).
Project Area (in hectares)45,300
Level of Investment (in USD)1,580,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population6200 (displaced) + 110,000 (affected downstream)
Start Date31/03/2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesNam Theun 2 Power Company Limited (NTPC) from Lao PDR - dam, hydro-electricity
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) from Thailand
Electricité de France International (EDF) from France - energy, electricty, hydro-electric dams
Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE) from Lao PDR - hydroelectric dams,
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTERRA (Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance)

International Rivers
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: 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
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Development of AlternativesThe 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.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project was finished and is now in operation.
Sources and Materials

(4) Fact sheet from NGO International Rivers
[click to view]

(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
[click to view]

(9) Brettonwoods on the project approval by the World Bank
[click to view]

(10) The "Doing a Dam Better" World bank report on the Nam Theun 2 dam
[click to view]


(1) Nam Theun 2 dam on wikipedia
[click to view]

(2) NTPC Company website (accessed 06.02.2015)
[click to view]

(3) BBC article (2007) on the Nam theun 2 dam
[click to view]

(5) New York Times article (2014) on Nam Theun 2 dam
[click to view]

(6) 2005 Article on Probe International regarding villager protests
[click to view]

(8) Asia News article on protests of environmentalists against the Nam Theun 2 dam
[click to view]

Other Documents

Solidary Thai villagers protests against the Nam Theun 2 dam source:
[click to view]

The Nam Theun 2 dam source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / [email protected]
Last update24/02/2015