Vietnam Confirms Stake in Sesan Dam Bought by Chinese Firm

A representative of Vietnamese state-owned electricity giant Electricity Vietnam International (EVNI) confirmed yesterday that their stake in a dam project in Stung Treng province has been bought out by their Cambodian and Chinese business counterparts.

While Royal Group chairman Kith Meng has maintained that EVNI still has a 10 percent stake in the Sesan dam project—and Royal Group in partnership with Hydrolancang holds 90 percent—Cao Dang Du, an EVNI representative in Cambodia, said that China’s Hydrolancang had paid EVNI back its investment.

“We have already transferred [this project] to Royal Group and Hydrolancang, the company that came from China,” Mr. Dang Du said. “The Chinese company has paid almost all the money back to EVN already.”

Mr. Dang Du said he did not know the total amount of EVNI’s investment, and declined to comment on whether his company will receive any share in revenues generated by the dam.

Cambodian conglomerate Royal Group and China’s Hydrolancang International Energy Co. Ltd., signed an agreement in Phnom Penh last month to build the 400-megawatt Sesan dam, which will take five years to complete and will be operated as a private enterprise for 40 years before it is handed over to the government.

Officials at the Vietnamese Embassy said in late November that EVNI had “quit” the project about two months ago. The officials also said that their 10 percent stake covered the exploration work and feasibility studies completed in 2009.

In preparation for the resettlement of the more than 5,000 villagers who will be displaced by the dam’s reservoir, provincial authorities have set up a committee in charge of measuring land at resettlement sites, San Nou, Sesan district councilor, said yesterday.

Despite the removal preparations, villagers are still in the dark about how much they will be compensated for their resettlement, or when the dam construction will begin, said Sam Oeun, a Stung Treng provincial representative for local NGO Culture and Environment Preservation Association, which is advocating for the villagers.

(Additional reporting by Phok Dorn)

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