Back in Koh Kong in Just 15 Days
I am so happy to come back again to Koh Kong province in just 15 days following the previous trip for the river closure ceremony at Russei Jrum Kraom hydroelectric power construction site. Today we celebrate the Tatai river closure to build another hydroelectric power of 246 MW. If you may notice, the two trips occurred in two different years – the Russei Jrum Kraom ceremony was on December 28, 2010 and today’s Tatai is on January 12, 2011.
In just two weeks we have celebrated the closure of two rivers to build two hydroelectric power stations. The Russei Jrum Kraom, as you all know, will put out 338 MW of electricity and this Tatai will of course put out 246 MW once they complete. The Tatai construction of hydroelectric power will cost up to 540 million USD and be handled by the China National Heavy Machinery (CNHM) company.
Over 1 Billion USD Projects
The two projects cost over one billion USD. This should be considered a new achievement in the cooperation relations between Cambodia and China. I have said (when I closed the river) at Russei Jrum Kraom that it is because of our good bilateral relations and peace prevalence in Cambodia that we have come to this investment. HE Suy Sem, Minister for Industry, Mines and Energy, has said it too in his report that the win-win policy and national reconciliation have been the foundation for peace that allows investment this dimension to take place.
President of CNHM has already informed us that the projection of the construction timeframe would be till 2015 but the company would try its best to speed up the construction to 2013. If it were to be truly so, I must say, it would be our lucky draw as we would have more electricity before long. Thanks to good bilateral relations and support of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, investments of over one billion USD for the two hydroelectric projects are possible – of which 495 USD for Russei Jrum Kraom.
Cambodia now has received first-rate investments from the People’s Republic of China, which have been illustrated through many investment projects, especially hydroelectric power plants, in which five are under constructions – Russei Jrum Kraom, Tatai, A Tai, Kirirom and Komjai.
Three Stages of Sino-Cambodian Relations Development
In the course of developing bilateral relations between the two countries, I could summary to a three stage development. The first stage of development was when the two sides admitted to good neighborly relations. It was back in 1999 when I first met with the Chinese leader. In 2006, HE Premier Wen Jiabao visited Cambodia and joined me for the groundbreaking ceremony to build the office of the Council of Ministers and the Komjai hydroelectric power plant both sides have termed our bilateral relations a trustworthy one.
In our meeting at the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in October 2010, again HE Wen Jiabao and I came to an agreement that the bilateral relations of Cambodia and China have been elevated to a comprehensive and strategic level. This has been the focal point of my visit to the People’s Republic of China in between December 13 and 17, 2010.
China’s Supports, More Credit for Infrastructural Investments
With the encouragement and support from the Government of the (People’s Republic of) China, Chinese investors have come to Cambodia in search of business and investment opportunity. There have been two main supports provided by the Government of China. Firstly, there is this government-to-government political support which includes also protection for investors and related matters that the two Governments have to assure trust on each other. Secondly, the Government of the People’s Republic of China provides backup support to various Chinese Banks to provide funds to various Chinese companies for investment projects in Cambodia.
This has been committed in line with the Chinese overall policy towards ASEAN, for whom China, through the Premier HE Wen Jiabao, declares giving credits of seven billion USD. To put it in simple statement, China allocates seven billion USD in credit for the ten member countries of ASEAN. From this amount, a fair sum has been given to Cambodia both as loan from the Chinese Government for (Cambodia’s) infrastructural development and also as capital for investment by the Chinese company.
We have so many needs to be addressed. Here we have the presence of HE Keat Chhon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance, who supports actively policy of increased spending to generate growth, which, as we all agree, would consequently and gradually reduce poverty. As of now, we will have to go on putting more money in infrastructural development. We still need more credit for that matter.
246 MW, 540 Million USD
I would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks for the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines, the China National Heavy Machinery company, related institutions like the Ministries of Water Resources/Meteorology, and of Environment, as well as the local authorities for their joint efforts in organizing this important event. According to the report by the minister HE Suy Sem, there is a vast difference in the two hydroelectric project investments.
At Russei Jrum Kraom, to generate 338 MW of electricity, we have to invest 495 million USD. However, here at Tatai hydroelectric plant, we have to invest up to 540 million USD to generate 246 MW of electricity. The Tatai hydroelectric plant has been granted with a 42-year investment concession to China National Heavy Machinery with five years projected for the construction and the rest 37 years for business operation. One of the reasons why the cost of building hydroelectric plant at Tatai is higher, HE Suy Sem already mentioned that in his report, is because the rock on which the project sits is on early age rock bed that a lot of work needs to be done.
Other reasons would include closing two rivers – Tatai and Keb, and also drilling a whole in the mountain so as to get water current to turn the turbine. The drilling hole would be 8 meters in diameter and 9.8 km in length. This is a good experience and we will see for the future to change from building road up and around the hills to through them. Well 42 years is a long time.
Long-term Investment with No Risks
One may pose a question as to how come Hun Sen dared plan for such a long time. Of course the Government’s term has been defined to be five years only. However, the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines has planned some projects with timeframe longer than the Government’s term. Some projects have been planned up to 2030.
Because these projects need to be planned for a long period of time, approval from the National Assembly has to be sought for. This is done in order to prevent any disruption in eventual change of government leadership. This has been the case in some countries where a decision by one Prime Minister with a country in agreement has been revoked by his successor.
In Cambodia, we guarantee that all investment projects would not lead to any risks for investors in the long run. Take projects from the State of Cambodia’s time, before the Paris Peace Agreement for instance, they have been recognized and continued to the present.
More Power Transmission Lines Needed
Since electric power will be wired from the plant at Russei Jrum Kraom already, power from here will not be wired to Koh Kong anymore. The power will be wired to a transformer station at O Saom of Pursath province. Since Tatai and Russei Jrum Kraom are in Koh Kong, and few more are on their ways like Atai and Tchai Aren, this province is therefore Cambodia’s important battery.
We have to make sure that when we have electric power, we have the line to get them out to customers, and vice versa. Facing with the fact that there will be the first coal fired electric plants for 100 MW and 200 MW, and electric powers to be sent out from hydroelectric plants here, I am sure you agree with me that there is a need for us to work on power wiring. We should encourage private sectors, internal and from abroad, to join in this investment.
Electric Supply – Prior to 1975 and at Present
Here I have with me a paper presented to me by HE Suy Sem in which he compares electric generation and supply in the last 32 years (after the victory day of January 7, 1979) and from before 1975. Before 1975, there were eleven power generation plants that supplied electricity – Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kandal, Kompot, Takeo, Kratie, Kompong Cham, Stoeng Treng, Siemreap, Pursath and Kompong Chhnang province. No power supply to rural areas ever recorded.
As of 2010, all 24 cities and provinces have got their electric supply. Among them, fifteen are supplied by the Electricité du Cambodge, whereas the rest are being supplied by private companies. 7,061 villages from all 14,210 villages, in the whole country have been supplied with electricity, but not by Electricité du Cambodge alone.
As far as transmission line is concerned, prior to 1975, there was about 120 km of 110 KV electric cables, one substation and there was no 230 KV cable. At present, we have 422 km of 115 KV power cables, 97 km of 230 KV cables and nine substations for power distribution. In Phnom Penh alone, while before 1975 it consumed 107 million KWh, now it consumes 1,540 million KWh. As far as electric supply throughout the country is to be concerned, while there were about 60 MW, by the end of 2009, we have increased to 579 MW already.
Demand for electricity in Phnom Penh has proven the Ministry’s projection wrong. While it was projected to have an increasing demand for 12%, in 2010 Phnom Penh called for 24.05% increase in its demand. We have anticipated for intensive need for electricity as our economy expands.
Thank Company and Local Authorities and Armed Forces
On this auspicious occasion, on behalf of the Royal Government and the people of Cambodia, concerned state institutions and companies, I would like to beg blessings for the safe and successful construction of the plants from all deities. I also would like to take this opportune moment to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for companies, local authorities of all levels, the armed forces and people for making efforts and being presence for this glorious river closure ceremony.
HE Mok Mareth, Minister of Environment, has assured us with a thorough study conducted on project impacts. It is inevitable that when we close the two rivers, there will be areas that are going to be submerged, but we have to trade that situation for generation of more electricity. For areas to be possibly submerged from this project we should organize bidding for logging and I am sure the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has already started the process. I must warn vehemently though no logging outside the affected area will be allowed./.