The closure of the diversion tunnel at the project site yesterday has paved the way for impoundment to commence from mid-June, when the dam gates are due to be closed.

The World Bank issued an interim progress report on the project in February, which cleared the way for the impoundment to take place as most resettlement had been done, a draft plan for fisheries had been submitted and an emergency contingency plan had been done.

Following that work, and the implementation of a water quality monitoring programme, the vegetation clearance work and the final stage work on the plan for mitigation and compensation to villagers, the International Panel of Experts (POE) approved the closure of the diversion tunnel to take place this month.

The 1,070MW Nam Theun 2 scheme is being developed under a concession between the Lao Government and the Nam Theun 2 Power Co (NTPC), which includes Italian-Thai Development Public Co (ITD), EDF International the Electricity Generating Public Co (EGCO) of Thailand. The developer has a 31 year concession, including 25 years of operation.

The plant is to be a foreign currency earner with electricity exports totalling 5,354GWH/yr to Thailand. Domestic market needs are to benefit from 300GWh/yr of output.