Pak Beng hydropower project

JEP9869 edit

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 17th Jan 2017

The Pak Beng hydropower project is proposed on the Mekong mainstream in the northern territory of Lao PDR. The run-of-river project with capacity of 912 MW and the average annual generation of 4,775 GWh is expected to produce power for domestic supply and export. The dam is located between the Jinghong hydropower project in China and the Xayaburi hydropower project in Laos.

The Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat submitted on 4 November the detailed description of the planned project to the Mekong River Committee (MRC) Secretariat for its review and further action to inform the other member countries about the project’s scope and other requirements under the prior consultation process.

This first meeting of the Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) on the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) on 12 January 2017 informed and discussed 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 Pak Beng hydropower project with the aim of increasing the joint benefits and cooperation among member countries and MRC Secretariat.

A Regional Stakeholder Meeting in February 2017 and a field visit to Pak Beng in April 2017 will be organized to exchange and share information, investigate the site, and discuss and document legitimate concerns.

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is carrying out the prior consultation, starting on 20 December 2016. 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 working group.

Prior-consultation process

In the prior-consultation process, with technical and administrative support from the MRC Secretariat, the notified member countries would review technical aspects of the project, assess any possible transboundary impact 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 not to approve the proposed project.

The prior consultation is part of the MRC’s procedural rules on cooperation on water use of the Mekong mainstream: 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.

This process normally lasts six months, but could be extended further by the Joint Committee. The prior consultation is one of three procedures required for the development of different types of water-use projects in the Lower Mekong Basin as specified in the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) established under the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

Click here for the detailed road map of the six-month process.

Lao Mekong Pak Beng HPP Introduction Video

 

Feedback and Comments

By: International Rivers 16 June 2017

Submission regarding the Pak Beng Dam Prior Consultation Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA)

This submission is available in PDF file. Click to view English »

Show response from the MRC Secretariat »

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) would like to confirm receipt of the submission by the International Rivers on Prior Consultation for Pak Beng Hydropower Project.

The 6-month milestone of the Prior Consultation (PC) for Pak Beng Hydropower Project was completed at the Special Session of the MRC Joint Committee (JC) in June 2017. The Session provided the formal opportunity within the official PC timeframe for the JC members, the management body of the MRC, to discuss key recommendations of the final Technical Review Report (TRR) of the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project (PBHPP) undertaken by the MRC Secretariat. Having considered the TRR as well as the outcomes from regional and national stakeholder forums, the JC agreed on a statement calling on ‘the Government of Lao PDR to make all reasonable efforts to address potential adverse transboundary impacts of the Pak Beng project’ and requests the Secretariat to prepare a Joint Action Plan outlining a post six-months prior consultation process.

Measures for consideration in the statement include addressing the potential upstream and downstream impacts on hydrology and hydraulics including the backwater effects into Thailand; improving sediment transportation; improving upstream and downstream fish passage; gaining a better understanding of potential socio-economic transboundary impacts; ensuring the freedom of navigation; establishing a communication channel for providing inputs on the ongoing design and development of the project; sharing of improved designs and monitoring data, and MRC joint monitoring programme for Pak Beng.

The MRC is working closely with member countries to draft the Joint Action Plan, based on the agreed statement on the PBHPP PNPCA. We are conducting an internal reflection session and draft a lesson learnt on PBHPP PC and finalise PNPCA Commentary which reviews experiences for three PNPCAs of Xayaburi, Don Sahon and Pak Beng.

Our Council Study is to be completed by December 2017 and we hope that it will provide reliable scientific environmental, social, and economic impacts of water resources development in the Mekong River encompassing cross-cutting sectors and impacts. The study also will fill major knowledge gaps on the environmental, social, and economic impacts of major development in the Mekong basin in the short, medium, and long term. The Council Study is expected to support a process in guiding future development and management of the Mekong.

We would like to note that the MRC is an intergovernmental organisation established by four Mekong countries for regional collaboration to manage shared water and related resources sustainably. The MRC’s role is to provide a platform for the four governments to discuss their needs and challenges in water development and negotiate better use of the common resources for the benefit of the region.

We would like to welcome all inputs and contributions for the prior consultation processes as well as for other MRC works. These inputs and contributions are considered seriously. We trust that what all of us are doing will sustain the Mekong River in the most sustainable way.

By: Dr. Richard J. Frankel, 3 June 2017

Economic Evaluation of Hydropower Projects in the Lower Mekong Basin

We would much appreciate your consideration of the following recent paper which can be downloaded as PDF using the link below – Economic Evaluation of Hydropower Projects in the Lower Mekong Basin. The paper focuses on economics and the main findings are:

  1. The overall economic impact of planned mainstream Mekong hydropower projects would be negative mainly due to the economic value of capture fisheries loss being much larger than benefits from hydropower electricity.
  2. The current value of Mekong capture fisheries is approximately $ 8 billion/year. A small percentage reduction (say 1%) in capture fisheries due to mainstream dam barrier effects would result in a Net Present Value of minus $ 800 million.
  3. Social mitigation costs and environmental costs, including the forecast loss of sediment/nutrients, also have a significant negative economic impact.
  4. The economic impact of planned mainstream projects on Lao PDR and Thailand is forecast to be positive, with Thailand being the main beneficiary. Vietnam and Cambodia are forecast to suffer large negative economic impacts.

The above findings are contrary to Mekong River Commission reports (Basin Development Plan 2 – BDP2) which forecast a large benefit from the mainstream projects (more than $ 30 billion for the 11 dams scenario) which would mainly accrue to Lao PDR. However, it seems that BDP2 grossly overestimated the hydropower benefit from electricity sales and underestimated the loss of capture fisheries.

The paper recommends to delay construction of other mainstream dams until Xayaburi is completed and the effectiveness of mitigation measures including fish passes and sediment sluice gates has been demonstrated. In view of uncertainties in fish pass technology and potential loss of capture fisheries, this recommendation would be prudent for Pak Beng. Click to view English » 

Show response from the MRC Secretariat »

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) would like to confirm receipt of the comment by Dr Richard J. Frankel, Ph.D, Former Adjunct Professor NREM Research and Training Center, School of Management, Mae Fah Luang University and the report on Economic Evaluation of Hydropower Projects in the Lower Mekong Basin developed by the faculty. The report will be shared with our relevant experts.

The Prior Consultation for Pak Beng Hydropower Project concluded on 19 June 2017, where the Member Countries endorsed a Joint Statement to avoid, minimise or mitigate potential transboundary impacts. Moving forward, the Member Countries and the Secretariat will develop a Joint Action Plan that outlines a post six-months prior consultation process.

The MRC will host several regional stakeholder forums later this year, including the Stakeholder Forum for the Council Study, and we welcome all interested stakeholders.

By: Dr. Lilliana Corredor, 17-Mar-2017

Open Letter to the Mekong River Commission

This submission is available in PDF file. Click to view English » 

Show response from the MRC Secretariat »

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) would like to confirm receipt of the open letter to the Mekong River Commission by Dr. Lilliana Corredor, Founder & Coordinator, Scientists for the Mekong.

Your letter was noted and fed into the MRC technical review of the project and some issues it raised have been addressed at Regional Stakeholder Forums. In addition, key messages and recommendations from the stakeholder consultation sessions at the national and regional levels have been documented in the TRR. The TRR is one of key deliverables of the prior consultation process and will be submitted to the MRC governance bodies for consideration during negotiation on conditions for the project.

We would like to note that the MRC is an intergovernmental organisation established by four Mekong countries for regional collaboration to manage shared water and related resources sustainably. It is not the MRC’s mandate to regulate or authorise any development projects of a Member Country. Rather, its role is to provide a platform for the four governments to discuss their needs and challenges in water development and negotiate better use of the common resources for the benefit of the region.

We would like to welcome all inputs and contributions for the prior consultation processes as well as for other MRC works. We trust that what all of us are doing will sustain the Mekong River in the most sustainable way.

By: Prof. Zhijian Wang, 3-Feb-2017

Using Basin Rights Approach to Calculate Laos’ Water Rights relevant to Dam Building

This submission is available in PDF file. Click to view English » 

Show response from the MRC Secretariat »

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) would like to confirm receipt of the proposal on Using Basin Rights Approach to Calculate Laos’ Water Rights relevant to Dam Building by Prof. Zhijian Wang.

Your proposal was noted and fed into the MRC technical review of the project. Key messages and recommendations from the stakeholder consultation sessions at the national and regional levels have been included in the TRR. The TRR is one of key deliverables of the prior consultation process and will be submitted to the MRC governance bodies for consideration during negotiation on conditions for the project.

We would like to welcome all inputs and contributions for the prior consultation processes as well as for other MRC works. We trust that what all of us are doing will sustain the Mekong River in the most sustainable way.

Please submit your feedback and comments about our consultation for Pak Beng Hydropower Project by clicking this button

Submit your feedback and comments in our consultations.

The MRC Secretariat will hold the first regional public consultation, aiming to inform, involve and consult regional and international organisations, civil society, the media, research institutes and the MRC's Development Partners on the proposed Don Sahong Hydropower Project as well as the prior consultation process. It is an additional avenue for those who may not have the opportunity to participate in the national consultations or information sharing meetings held by each respective MRC Member Country. Members of the public, including civil society, can also submit their views, petitions and comments on the project during the process to the MRC via its website at: http://www.mrcmekong.org/stakeholder-consultations and the MRC will ensure that these will be presented to the Joint Committee.
Views and comments reflected in previous and ongoing stakeholder participation mechanisms will also be considered during the evaluation. The aim is for the Joint Committee members to be informed of public opinion and concerns raised both in their own country and in other neighbouring countries on a proposed project and then use this information as part of their consideration.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Prior Consultation of Pak Beng Hydropower Project What is the MRC’s Prior Consultation process? Why does the MRC need the Prior Consultation? Who will be involved in the Prior Consultation process? Is the Prior Consultation the approval process needed for a proposed project? Find answers to these questions from these Frequently Asked Questions about the process and related issues. The FAQs will also be available in Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese.

Media Contact

For media inquires, please contact:
Sopheak Meas: sopheak@mrcmekong.org
Le Thi Huong Lien: huonglien@mrcmekong.org or
mrcmedia@mrcmekong.org or view the Contact page here