Mekong river Xayaburi

Luang Prabang Hydropower Project

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 30 Sep 2019

The Luang Prabang hydropower project is proposed on the Mekong mainstream in the Houygno village of Luang Prabang province, about 25 km from Luang Prabang town or approximately 2,036 km from the Mekong Delta in Viet Nam. It is situated between the two previously consulted Mekong mainstream projects: the upstream Pak Beng and the downstream Xayaburi projects. 

The run-of-the-river dam will operate continuously year-round and produce 1,460 MW of electricity. It is designed with seven turbines or generators, each producing 200 MW, and a number of auxiliary units using water from fish attraction flow that are capable of producing another 60 MW. The power plant is intended mainly for export to Thailand and Viet Nam. 

The project’s construction is expected to begin in 2020 and finish in 2027, the year the commercial operation is also set to begin. The Luang Prabang Power Company Limited — a company established by the Lao Government and PetroVietnam Power Corporation under their 2007 Memorandum of Understanding — is named as the project developer.   

On 31 July 2019, the Lao Government, through its Lao National Mekong Committee, notified the Mekong River Commission Secretariat of its intention to undertake the formal process of Prior Consultation on the Pak Lay hydropower project. The notification includes the detailed description of the planned project for the MRC Secretariat to review and take further action to inform the other member countries about the project’s scope and other requirements under the prior consultation process. 

The MRC’s Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) on the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) is scheduled to meet on October 8 to decide on the starting date of the six-month Prior Consultation process of the submitted project. The body is also expected to discuss several key issues that require advanced proper attention and common understanding and agreement to ensure successful implementation of a six-month Prior Consultation process of the proposed project with an aim of increasing the joint benefits and cooperation among the member countries and MRC Secretariat. 

Once the starting date is decided, the MRC will immediate execute the implementation of the Prior Consultation process. In the process, the MRC has scheduled two regional stakeholder forums and a field visit to the project site to exchange and share information, investigate the site, and discuss and document legitimate concerns. 

The consultation is conducted by the MRC Joint Committee (JC), a governing body comprising one senior government official at no less than head of department level from each member country, with technical and administrative support by the MRC Secretariat and the joint working group. 

The Prior Consultation Process

The Prior Consultation is part of the MRC’s procedural rules on cooperation on water use of the Mekong mainstream governed by the PNPCA. Under the Procedures, any infrastructural project using the mainstream water during the dry season within the same basin, as well as during the wet season between two basins, must undergo the prior consultation process. Applicable projects include large-scale irrigation and hydropower development which may cause significant impacts on the environment, water flow and quality of the Mekong mainstream.

In the Prior Consultation process, with technical and administrative support from the MRC Secretariat, the notified Member Countries will review technical aspects of the proposed project, assess any potential transboundary impacts on the environment and livelihoods along the riparian communities, and suggest measures to address those concerns.

The Member Countries aim to come to an agreement on how the consulted case should proceed. It is not meant to approve or disapprove the proposed project. 

This process normally lasts six months, but it could be extended further, if required, by the Joint Committee. The Prior Consultation is one of the three procedures required for the development of different types of water-use projects in the lower Mekong basin as specified in the PNPCA established under the 1995 Mekong Agreement. 

A draft detailed roadmap of the six-month process is available for download here. A final version will replace this once the JCWG approves it.

Introduction Video on the Luang Prabang Hydropower Project

An introductory video on the Luang Prabang hydropower project will be made available soon on this space, along the line of the Prior Consultation process, to aid understanding to stakeholders on the project.

Frequently Asked Questions about Prior Consultation of Luang Prabang Project

What are the frequently asked questions around the Prior Consultation of the Luang Prabang hydropower project?

Click here for a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the process and related issues.

Feedback and Comments

Feedback and comments from the public – individuals or organizations – on the proposed project are posted here in full. A response by the MRC Secretariat or its governance body will also be made available, if any. 

Members of the public may submit their feedback and comments about our consultation for the Luang Prabang project through this Stakeholder Consultations Comment Box.