France to Assist in Mekong Hydro Resource Coordination

In attempt to develop the energy sector and improve the management of water resources on the Mekong River, Laos and France have enhanced cooperation by signing an agreement to build a new Coordination and Monitoring Centre (CMC).

The centre will be equipped to monitor hydroelectric power project (HPP) development on the Mekong River in Laos.

The Coordination and Monitoring Centre will play a role in coordinating “run-of-the-river” HPPs developed by different Independent Power Producers on the Lao stretch of the Mekong River.

An agreement to build the new centre was signed in Vientiane this week between the Director General of the Department of Energy Policy Planning, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Dr Chansaveng Boungnong, and chairwoman and CEO of CNR Engineering, Ms Elisabeth Ayrault.

Dr Chansaveng stated that the objective was to provide a global overview and the information needed for the coordinated management of HPPs along the Mekong.

Feasibility studies, chiefly financed via the French Development Agency will allow for the defining of the objectives, needs and future operation of the CMC.

Under the agreement, the two parties will implement feasibility studies for an 18-month period from January 2018 to June 2019, he said. The CMC is a government body essential for the coordination and joint management of HPP development on the Mekong mainstream and its main tributaries.  

The CMC’s planned scope of action covers five main areas, being governance and capacity building, dialogue and coordinated management, water resources management and climate change adaptation, environmental and social management, dam management and safety, he added.

It seeks to develop and share reference databases regarding all water used for hydroelectric power production, navigation, irrigation, tourism, flood and low water forecasting, sediment management, the protection of biodiversity, fish migration monitoring and more.

The planned centre fulfills the stipulations of the new Lao laws on both water and electricity for integrated water resource management, coordinated from upstream to downstream between independent operators of different HPPs.

According to the CNR, the collaboration between the centre and the Ministry of Energy and Mines solidifies efforts based on the MoU signed by CNR in 2015 to provide and share with Laos and CNR unique know-how in run-of-river hydroelectric and river engineering, in the framework of the country’s integrated water resources management for the sustainable development of the Mekong.

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