Pak Beng dam, Lao PDR

In 2017, the Lao government approved a controversial project to build a dam that will displace thousands of people and will affect ecosystems in the Mekong river.


The Pak Beng Hydropower Project is the first dam in the cascade of hydropower projects planned on the mainstream of the Lower Mekong River, most of them in the Laotian part of the river. With an installed capacity of 912 megawatts, the dam will be  located about 14 kilometers north of the town of Pak Beng, in Laos, and 92 kilometers from the Thai border [1].

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Basic Data
NamePak Beng dam, Lao PDR
CountryLao PDR
ProvinceOudomxai province
SitePak Beng
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local 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 CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsCapacity: 912 MW [3]

Investment: 2,372 million USD [3]

Area: the dam will flood 4,178 hectares of land and create a 7,659-hectare reservoir
Project Area (in hectares)7,659
Level of Investment (in USD) 2,372,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population4726
Start Date01/02/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesElectricite du Laos (EdL) from Lao PDR
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) (EGAT) from Thailand
Datang Pak Beng Hydropower Co., Ltd from China - Developer
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Laos

Mekong River Commission (MRC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersRak Chiang Khong Conservation Group,

Rivers Coalition in Cambodia (RCC),

International Rivers (
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesNGOs are proposing to change the energy model in the region to promote other alternatives such as solar energy.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is still ongoing even though a case is open in a Thai court.
Sources and Materials

1995 Mekong agreement
[click to view]


[4] Independent Expert Review of the Pak Beng Dam EIA, International Rivers, May 2017
[click to view]

[5] Technical Review of Pak Beng Hydropower Project, Mekong River Commission, May 2017
[click to view]

[6] Website Datang (Lao) Pak Beng hydropower Co., Ltd
[click to view]

[7] Thailand Delays Decision on Power Purchase from Pak Beng Dam, press release, International Rivers, March 13, 2018
[click to view]

[1] International Rivers, Briefing on Pak Beng Dam Lawsuit,
[click to view]

[2] Future Directions, Laos: Pak Beng Dam Project Approved, but at What Cost?, March 8 2017
[click to view]

[3] Factsheet about the Pak Beng Hydropower Project, Mekong River Commission,
[click to view]

Other Documents

Location of the Pak Beng dam, MRC Location of the Pak Beng dam, MRC
[click to view]

Pak Beng dam project, MRC Pak Beng dam project, MRC
[click to view]

The Mekong River in Laos, near the site of the Pak Beng Dam, International Rivers The Mekong River in Laos, near the site of the Pak Beng Dam, International Rivers
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLaura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update25/09/2018
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