Electricite de France (EDF) and Harza Engineering Company have entered into a joint venture partnership agreement as head contractor for the 1074-MW Nam Theun 2 (NT2) Hydroelectric project in Laos.

The companies will have full responsibility for overseeing the design and construction of the US$1.1 billion build own operate and transfer hydroelectric project, which consists of a RCC dam, intake structure and power tunnels, and a six-unit powerhouse. Construction and commissioning of the NT2 project is anticipated to last 54 months with construction starting in 18 to 24 months.

The NT2 project is a part of the long-term collaborative effort between LAO PDR and Thailand that provides for Laos to export 3,000 MW of energy from new capacity by 2008. NT2 will supply over 920 MW of intermediate peaking power to the Thai National Grid from 2007 as well as supplying most of the developing needs of the two central Lao Provinces of Khammouane and Savannakhet. After 25 years, the project will become the full property of the Lao Government, which will hold an initial share of 25 percent. An important outcome of the project will also be the provision of $30 million over 30 years for the protection of the Nakai Nam Theun Conservation Area, nearly 4,000 square kilometres of tropical rainforest, the home of many rare species of wildlife and vegetation.

NT2 will more than double the size of the existing Lao export capacity. It represents a Thai commitment until the year 2032 of about US$230million annually and a Lao commitment to Thailand for the same period to supply about 134 billion units of electrical energy.

“As the world’s power needs increase, NT2 is a great example of a project that balances the social, environmental, safety, and power requirements of an expanding economic area” said Jean-Michel Devernay, director of edf’s Hydro Engineering International Department. “The team of EDF and Harza is committed to be a major contributor to ensuring all of the project goals are met.”