By Somsack Pongkhao
Vientiane, June 1, 2018
Laos and Myanmar have taken another step towards implementing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on power cooperation that was signed in January this year.
Senior officials from the two nations met at the 1st Joint Working Committee Meeting (JWC) held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, recently to discuss the agreement and move forward.
Office Head of the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines, Dr Daovong Phonekeo, highlighted the significance of this meeting for strengthening power cooperation between Laos and Myanmar.
Discussions at the meeting laid out the framework for the Joint Working Committee to set up a Joint Work Group for technical teams to support each party with accurate and up to date information to initiate a feasibility study.
“Myanmar wants to purchase about 300-400MW of power, but that will depend on the results of the feasibility study,” Dr Daovong said.
“It’s not clear when we will start selling electricity under this programme and at what price, but after completion of the feasibility study we should have a better picture. Both sides need time to carry out a thorough study and submit a report to the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines and Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power and Energy.”
Dr Daovong said Laos would supply electricity to Myanmar through northern power grids. “If everything progresses as planned, we expect to start selling electricity to Myanmar sometime within the next two years.” Laos and Myanmar signed the MOU on power cooperation in January this year, witnessed by Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. The agreement serves as a guideline and framework for power cooperation between the two countries.
During the 1st Joint Working Committee Meeting, Laos and Myanmar agreed to move forward under the MOU to accomplish the objectives of the two parties in power cooperation.
It was agreed that the 2nd JWC meeting would be hosted by the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines in Luang Prabang province in December this year.
In January this year, Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power and Energy was looking at buying power from other countries, Assistant Secretariat Min Min Oo told the local media outlet “Eleven”.
“People in Myanmar object to the development of hydropower and coal-fired power plants so these are challenges we have to overcome. Laos, China and India are offering us to sell power. We are holding discussions because of our lack of experience,” Min Min Oo said.
Laos has huge potential in hydropower development, which can further drive economic growth. The country currently has 46 power plants with an installed capacity of 6,757MW generating about 35,608 GWh of electricity annually.
At present Laos sells only 4-5MW to Myanmar, which is a very small amount, but the two nations aim to increase this in the near future.