Work on a Vietnamese-invested hydro-power plant started in Laos ’ Attapeu province on March 6 with an investment of 441 million USD.

Sekaman 1, one of key projects in the energy cooperation programme between the two governments, is the largest hydro-electric power plant invested by Vietnam in its neighbouring country.

Addressing the ground breaking ceremony, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said Sekaman 1 is one of the largest projects invested abroad by Vietnamese firms and described it as a symbol of cooperation between the two countries.

Cooperation in electricity development is one of the key areas in bilateral economic ties between the two countries, he said.

The BOT plant is designed to have a total capacity of 332 MW in the lower part of the Sekaman river, about 80km from the Vietnam-Laos border gate.

Sekaman 1 is part of a project which also includes the Sekaman Sanxay hydro-power plant. The two are expected to go into operation after five years of construction, generating a total 1.22 billion kWh a year.

Twenty percent of the electricity will be consumed in Laos while the remaining will be sold to Vietnam through a 500kV transmission line between the two countries.

In addition to the project, the Song Da Corp, the project’s investor, has studied to implement six other hydro-power projects with a total capacity of about 1,400MW which are expected to turn out a combined output of 5.4 billion kWh a year in southern Laos .

Of the six projects, Sekaman 3 is expected to produce electricity by the end of this year, while construction of Sekaman 4 and Sekong will begin by the end of 2011 or early 2012./.