As of 2016, Laos has completed 40 dams on Mekong tributaries. An additional 50 dams are due for completion by 2020. Two of them, the Xayaburi and Don Sahong, are on the Mekong River. China is involved in about half of Laos’ hydropower projects. Beijing has poured at least $11 billion in development financing into the country, much of it for dam building

Next

Completed Dams

  • Namlik 1&2 - Vientiane province
  • Namngeum 5 - Xiengkhuang province & Luangphrabang province -
  • Namngieb 2 - Xiengkhuang province
  • Nambeng - Oudomxay province
  • NamOu 2 - Luangphrabang province
  • NamOu 5 - Phongsaly province
  • NamOu 6 - Phongsaly province
Next

Dams to be completed by 2020

  • Nammang 1 - Xaysomboun province
  • Namngeum 1 extended (Phase 1) - Vientiane province
  • Namtha 1 - Bokeo province
  • Namngeum 3 - Xaysomboun province
  • NamOu 3 - Luangphrabang province
  • NamOu 4 - Phongsaly province
  • NamOu 7 - Phongsaly province
  • NamOu 1 - Luangphrabang province
Next

Dams to be completed by 2025

  • NamKong 1 - Attapeu province
  • Pakbeng (Mekong river) - Oudomxay province
  • Xelanong 1 - Savannakhet province
Next

Dams to be completed by 2030

  • Paklai - Xayabouly province
  • PhouNgoy - Champasak province
  • Sanakham 1 - Vientiane Province
  • Namxeuang 1 - Luangphrabang province
  • Namxeuang 2 - Luangphrabang province
  • Xekaman 2A - Attapeu province
  • Xekaman 2B - Attapeu province
Next

Other planned dams

  • Xelanong 2 - Salavanh province
  • Namxeuang 4 - Luangphrabang province
  • Namxeuang 5 - Luangphrabang Province
  • Namxeuang 6 - Luangphrabang province
  • Xetanuan - Savannakhet province
  • Namma 1 - Huaphan province
  • Namma 1A - Huaphan province
  • Namma 2 - Huaphan province
  • Namma 2A - Huaphan province
  • Namma 3 - Huaphan province
Next

China Looms Large Over Its Southeast Asian Neighbors in More Ways Than One

Already the largest trade and investment partner of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, Beijing is also an important political and diplomatic supporter of those authoritarian states. They in turn back Chinese positions at the U.N. and other international organizations.

But it is on the Mekong River--which flows for 2,700 miles from the Himalayan mountains of Tibet to the South China Sea through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam--where China has a life-and-death impact on tens millions of Southeast Asians. China, which calls the Mekong the Lancang, has built at least eight dams on the river since the 1990s and has dozens more planned or under construction.

Chinese companies have put $7 billion toward building Special Economic Zones, dams, mines, and rubber plantations in Laos, according to official sources.

Much of the loans and investment falls under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative of massive infrastructure projects across Asia aimed at promoting trade and connectivity with China.

The explosion of dams on the Mekong, and the prospect of eventually hundreds of dams on the key waterway from Tibet to Vietnam, has alarmed environmentalists and experts on local communities.

They say existing dams already affect downstream fishermen and farmers by disrupting fish migration patterns and blocking water and vital sediment flows needed to refresh farmland in the Mekong rice-growing regions of Cambodia and Vietnam. Fish are the main source of protein for millions of people living along the Mekong River downstream from the major Lao dams.

In the realm of finance and debt, Laos’ China-funded dam-building spree has raised alarm bells over rising debt to Beijing – a problem that has emerged across Asia as the OBOR scheme, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), takes off.

In the case of Laos, one of Asia’s poorest countries, overall external debt had risen to $13.6 billion by the end of 2017 and close to half is owed to China, International Monetary Fund statistics show. Critics say much of the lending was extended without transparent assessments of the country’s ability to service the debt.

Laos risks repeating the “debt trap” experience of Sri Lanka and other OBOR loan recipients, who have had to turn over territory or infrastructure projects to Chinese creditors after falling behind on debt repayment.

Completed Chinese-Funded Dams in Laos

Number Name of project Reservior District Province Capacity installment (MW) Power (GWh/year) Construction completed year Project developer Power supplier
1 Namlik 1-2 Ngeum river Feuang Vientiane province 100 435 2010 CWE (China) 80% EDL-GEN 20% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
2 Namngeum 5 Ngeum river Phoukoud Xiengkhuang and Luangphrabang 120 507 2012 Sinnohydro (China) 85% EDL-GEN 15% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
3 Namngieb 2 Ngieb river Phaxay Xiengkhuang 180 732 2015 CWE (China) 90% & EDL-GEN 10% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
4 Nambeng Beng river Houn Oudomxay 36 145 2016 China National Electrical Equipment Corporation 80% EDL-GEN 10% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
4 Nambeng Beng river Houn Oudomxay 36 145 2016 China National Electrical Equipment Corporation 80% EDL-GEN 10% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
5 NamOu 2 Ou river Ngoy Luangphrabang 120 546 2016 Sinnohydro (China) 90% EDL-GEN 15% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
6 NamOu 5 Ou river Samphanh Phongsaly 240 1049 2016 Sinnohydro (China) 90% EDL-GEN 15% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
7 NamOu 6 Ou river Phongsaly Phongsaly 180 739 2016 Sinnohydro (China) 90% EDL-GEN 15% EDL (IPP domestic consumption)
Source of information: Lao Ministry of Energy and Mine Last update: June 2016

To be completed by 2020 Chinese-funded dams in Laos

Number Name of project Reservior District/
Province
Capacity installment (MW) Power (GWh/year) Construction completed year Project developer Power supplier Status (yy/mm/dd)
1 Nammang 1 Mang river Longxan/
Xaysomboun
64 444.5 2016 Dongfang (China) 75% & A&C 10.75% & EDL-GEN 10% & Sayyotha Company 4.25% EDL (IPP domestic consumption) completed 87%
2 Namngeum 1 extended (Phase 1) Ngeum river Keooudom/
Vientiane province
80 61 2017 EDL (Chinese government loan) EDL completed 45%
3 Namtha 1 Tha river Phaoudom/
Bokeo
86 419.5 2017 China Southern Grid Co.,ltd 80% & EDL-GEN 20% EDL (IPP domestic consumption) completed 27%
4 Namngeum 3 Ngeum river Phoun/
Xaysomboun
480 2146 2020 Sinnohydro Corporation Ltd EDL-GEN EDL completed 16%
5 NamOu 3 Ou river Ngoy/
Luangphrabang
210 826 2020 Sinnohydro Corporation Ltd China National EDL (IPP domestic consumption) Preparing for construction
6 NamOu 4 Ou river Khua/
Phongsaly
132 519 2020 Sinnohydro Corporation Ltd China National EDL (IPP domestic consumption) Preparing for construction
7 NamOu 7 Ou river Phongsaly/
Phongsaly
210 838 2020 Sinnohydro Corporation Ltd China National EDL (IPP domestic consumption) Preparing for construction
8 NamOu 1 Ou river PakOu/
Luangphrabang
180 710 2020 Sinnohydro Corporation Ltd China National EDL (IPP domestic consumption) Preparing for construction
Source of information: Lao Ministry of Energy and Mine Last update: June 2016

To be completed by 2025 Chinese-funded dams in Laos

Number Name of project Reservior District Province Capacity installment (MW) Power (GWh/year) Construction completed year Project developer Status (yy/mm/dd)
1 NamKong 1 Xekong river Phouvong Attapeu 160 649 N/A China Internatinoal Wter & Electric Corporation 60% EDL 20% & Investment and Hydropower development Consultant Co.,ltd 15% Under funding process
2 Pakbeng (Mekong river) Mekong river Pakbeng Oudomxay 912 4765 N/A China Datang Overseas 81% & EDL-Gen 19% PDA signed 2010/12/27 and waiting for ESIA approval
3 Xelanong 1 Xebanghieng river Phin Savannakhet 70 267 N/A YEIG Internatinal Development Co.,ltd 70% & Daosavanh Construction and Investment 25% & Sun Paper Holding 5% PDA signed 2015/01/19 and under concession contact negociation with the Lao government
Source of information: Lao Ministry of Energy and Mine Last update: June 2016

To be completed by 2030 Chinese-funded dams in Laos

Number Name of project Reservior District Province Capacity installment (MW) Power (GWh/year) Construction completed year Project developer Status (yy/mm/dd)
1 Paklai (Mekong) Mekong river Paklai Xayabouly 770 4143.4 2029 CEIEC+Sinohydro expected to start in 2022
2 PhouNgoy (Mekong) Mekong river Phonethong Champasak 686 2751 N/A Charoen Energy and Water Asia Co.,ltd (Thai company but the owner is half Chinese) PDA signed 2010/12/07
3 Sanakham (Mekong) Mekong river Sanakham Vientiane Province 660 3696 N/A China Datang Overseas 81% & Lao government 19% PDA signed 2010/12/27
4 Namxeuang 1 Xeuang river Luangphrabang Luangphrabang 30 113.9 N/A China Sichuan Gurong Group Co.,ltd PDA signed 2016/04/24
5 Namxeuang 2 Xeuang river PakOu Luangphrabang 108 385.2 N/A China Sichuan Gurong Group Co.,ltd PDA signed 2016/04/24
6 Xekaman 2A Xekong river Dakcheung Attapeu 35 160 N/A EDL China International Water & Electric Corportation Under feasibility study
7 Xekaman 2B Xekong river Dakcheung Attapeu 180 563.8 N/A EDL China International Water & Electric Corportation Under feasibility study
Source of information: Lao Ministry of Energy and Mine Last update: June 2016

Under MOU Chinese-funded dams in Laos

Number Name of project Reservior District Province Capacity installment (MW) Power (GWh/year) Project developer Status (yy/mm/dd)
1 Xelanong 2 Xebanghieng river Ta Oy Salavanh 35 142.7 China Gezhouba Group Company Limited MOU signed 2012/07/11
2 Namxeuang 4 Xeuang river Pakxeng Luangphrabang 42 147.2 China Sichuan Gurong Group Co.,ltd MOU signed 2013/09/09
3 Namxeuang 5 Xeuang river Viengkham Luangphrabang 47.1 155.8 China Sichuan Gurong Group Co.,ltd MOU signed 2013/09/09
4 Namxeuang 6 Xeuang river Pakxeng Luangphrabang 72 242.1 China Sichuan Gurong Group Co.,ltd MOU signed 2013/09/09
5 Xetanuan Xebanghieng river Phin Savannakhet 35 142.7 China Gezhouba Group Company Limited MOU signed 2012/07/11
6 Namma 1 Ma river Xiengkhor Huaphan 44 200 Guangdong Electric Company MOU signed 2014/06/10
7 Namma 1A Ma river Xiengkhor Huaphan 39 156.4 Guangdong Electric Company MOU signed 2014/06/10
8 Namma 2 Ma river Xiengkhor Huaphan 30 117.8 Guangdong Electric Company MOU signed 2014/06/10
9 Namma 2A Ma river Xiengkhor Huaphan 18 73.5 Guangdong Electric Company MOU signed 2014/06/10
10 Namma 1A Ma river Xiengkhor Huaphan 18 76.3 Guangdong Electric Company MOU signed 2014/06/10
Source of information: Lao Ministry of Energy and Mine Last update: June 2016