Myanmar speeds up implementation of hydropower projects in cooperation with neighbors

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Xinhua 7 August 2007

YANGON, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Experts of Myanmar and Thailand have made survey on some river ports along Myanmar's Thanlwin River in preparation to build a hydropower plant already agreed over a year ago between the electric power authorities of the two countries, the local Weekly Eleven News reported Tuesday.

Soil tests on banks of some three ports along the river in southeastern Kayin state were carried out recently by Myanmar with the cooperation of experts of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to build the Hutgyi hydropower plant under an agreement signed in December 2005.

The Hutgyi hydropower plant will consist of a 600 megawatt (mw)turbine that can produce 3.82 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) yearly.

The project constitutes part of those on the Thanlwin and Tanintharyi Rivers agreed earlier between the two countries in June 2005.

Power generated from the project is expected to be partly exported to Thailand.

Meanwhile, a giant Myanmar-Thai joint venture hydropower project, Tar-hsan, on Myanmar's Thanlwin River in eastern Shan state's Tachilek started in April this year. The 7,110-megawatt (mw) Tar-hsan hydropower project, is being implemented by the Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power and the MDX Group Co Ltd of Thailand under a 6-billion-US-dollar contract reached in April 2006.

That hydropower plant will produce 35.446 billion kwh a year, according to the contract.

The 6-billion-dollar Thai investment in the Tar-hsan hydropower project had sharply raised Myanmar's contracted foreign investment to over 14 billion dollars, a record high as of 2006 since late 1988.

Besides Thailand, Myanmar is also cooperating with its other Asian neighbors -- China, South Korea and Bangladesh -- in the development of hydropower initiating major hydropower projects in recent years.

Myanmar has signed five contracts respectively with some Chinese companies since 2004 on the implementation of the country's 790-mw Yeywa hydropower project on the Myitnge River, 50 kilometers southeast of Mandalay, which will generate 3.55 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year upon completion.

Besides, Myanmar also signed an agreement with the Yunnan Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Co Ltd (YMEC) of China on the Upper Paunglaung Hydroelectric Power Project located in the east of Pyinmana, northern Mandalay division.

In April 2007, Myanmar inked a memorandum of understanding with the Farsighted Investment Group Co Ltd and Gold Water Resources Ltd of China on the implementation of the Upper Thanlwin hydropower project.

Moreover, the China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) was also reportedly to build seven hydropower projects for Myanmar on the confluence of Ayeyawaddy river and Maykha and Malikha rivers in Kachin state with a combined capacity of 13,360 mw.

In cooperation with South Korea in developing the sector, Myanmar agreed in July 2006 with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) to develop Myanmar's electric power network dealing with management and operation. The network project, worth of 1.4 million U.S. dollars, includes the transfer of South Korean knowledge and experience in power system operation and protection, general facilities testing, fault analysis and the provision of relay equipment, the South Korean sources said.

In the latest development, Myanmar and Bangladesh are enhancing cooperation in seeking to build hydropower plants in Myanmar for export of electricity to Bangladesh.

The exploration has identified potential sites for such move in some areas in two states in western and northwestern parts of the country, local media reports said.

According to the government's National Investment Commission, the electric power sector dominated foreign investment in Myanmar with 6.311 billion U.S. dollars as of the end of January this year.

According to official statistics, Myanmar had a total of over 1,775 mw of installed generating capacity of electric power as of September 2006, up from 706.82 mw in 1988 when there were only 24 power plants in the country, of which 14 were hydropower ones.

With rich water resources, Myanmar possesses great potential for the development of its hydropower sector to resolve its power shortage issue.