GTR 2013 Mekong Boat Trip Houei Xai - Luang Prabang a bit more.

DavidFL

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Xayaboury or Sayabouly?
It's one of those confusing names, & something that when I drew the first LNTA Lao Tourist maps in 2004 we debated the correct spelling for several provinces, towns & attractions.
And the guys in the head office in Vientiane said it's Xayaboury, BUT the boss & staff in the provincial tourist office quite firmly pointed out that it is Sayabouly.
I stand corrected, most definitely. Yes I got the message.

The Sayabouly Tourist Office

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The have their own provincial tourism website
http://sayaboulytourism.com/index.html
just to confirm they know what they are doing & promoting.

You don't think there is much to see or do in Sayabouly, apart from ride through from
1. Hongsa - Sayabouly - Luang Prabang
2. Sayabouly - Pak Lai - Kenthao - Tha Li / Loei/Thailand.
3. Sayabouly - Pak Lai - Vientiane.
4. Sayabouly - Phiang - Nam Phui - Thong Mixai - Pak Lai (some of the best forest & trails in Laos.)

But in the south you have
1. The Houay Namsai Medicinal Plant Preserve and Herbal Spa: "Up to 100 traditional medicinal plants are located within the village protected area of 35 ha, covered by lush green forest on mountainous hillsides, where the Nam Houng River meanders through the valley and is met by the clear-blue waters of the Namsai stream gushing from the foot of the cliffs. In this charming setting the villagers operate resort-like herbal spa."
2. Nam Thang 1000 Caves Area is a limestone karst landscape where cave-pocked cliffs surround the Khmu villages of Ban Nathang, and Ban Keo. Here the Nam Thang stream has cut right through the mountains, and winds its way, to the Nam Poui river. The traveller has a chance to explore the area’s chasms and caves while getting an insight into Lao life with a homestay option in Ban Keo Village. This area, about 43 km south of Sayabouli town can be accessed by the adventurous, along a mountain road.Cave trekking trails From Ban Keo village, village
All something worth checking out in the future.

Accommodation in Sayabouly was the Koung Haung Tong

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Eats was at the Saynam Houng

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Breakfast was a big bowl of Phoe

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From Sayabouly it was onto Hongsa.
A road I had not been on since May 2004, when it started raining heavily & turned back rather than get stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere.
Then in 2007 I was in Hongsa & gloriously dumped the Africa Twin & made a mess of my left shoulder.

See my full report here

Finally Did It....

plus Silverhawk's entertaining write up about the 2007 Hongsa Elephant Festival here

Hongsa Elephant STUFF UP!
 
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DavidFL

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Sayabouly - Hongsa
Approx 130 kms & what a brilliant motorcycle ride - a narrow, steep& winding roller coaster ride.
Stunning scenery & villages = take your time, I wanna go back for more.

The start near Sayabouly

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into the mountains & onto the roller coaster

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Scenery

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a timeless life unchanged.

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Entering a village

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and what a village.......I parked the bike beside the road & walked back up the hill to use the zoom & pull the scene in.
After taking the photo I noticed the girls on the left, walking up the hill towards me - backwards!
Yep scared of the camera. I was astounded. They continued walking backwards right past me, then once past, sprinted off home.
Oops sorry ladies. A bit of a national geographic moment I thought - aint it good to be alive.

Back on the roller coaster road out of the village

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Hongsa

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and not such a pretty sight I thought. Oh well.....progress for some somewhere.

The new Hongsa power plant

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to be coal - lignite powered.
A bit of a change since I was last here in 2007, somewhat beaten up. There was most definitely no power plant. How fast things are changing.

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Its an absolutely massive power plant

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to supply power to Thailand, sourced from the cheap Hongsa lignite.

Not everyone is happy about the development & some of the history is interesting.

1. The locals - Laos & Thai - are all happy by the environmental price they expect to be paying.

ACTIVISTS FEAR POLLUTION FROM LAOS POWER PLANT
Published: 21 Apr 2013 at 00.00Newspaper section: News
Environmental advocates fear pollution from the Hongsa coal power plant in Laos' Xayaburi province will affect residents in the adjacent province of Nan in Thailand.
The power plant is located 57km from Song Khwer district and 110km from Muang district in Nan, making the residents vulnerable to health problems from pollution fallout, they say.

Narongrit Siriwongworapat, a member of the Watershed Conservation Network based in Song Khwer district, said Nan residents fear they will suffer health problems when the plant comes online in two years.

The Hongsa plant is being constructed by Hongsa Power Company Ltd (HPC) formed by the Lao government and private shareholders, mostly Thais, in 2009. It is a lignite-fired plant which will send most of its electricity to Thailand from 2015.

It will become Laos' largest coal-fired plant, producing 1,878 megawatts, of which 1,500 megawatts will be exported to Thailand.

"Nan province is facing a severe level of air pollution at the moment. We're suffering haze problems caused by forest fires," Mr Narongrit said.
"But if the province has to encounter pollution from the Hongsa coal power plant, of course the air will become a lot worse."

He said Thailand has already learned a lesson from Lampang's Mae Moh coal power plant which discharged air pollutants, causing many health problems for people living near the plant. He said he did not want to see a recurrence of the problem.
Renu Vejaratpimol, a lecturer at Silpakorn University's Faculty of Sciences, who is closely monitoring the construction of the Hongsa plant, said when it comes online, it will definitely create air pollution as lignite is a poor quality coal.

"Even though it is still unclear how much greenhouse gas and particles will be emitted from the plant, we should take a lesson from Mae Moh power plant," Ms Renu said.
She said Mae Moh discharged 5.08 grams of nitrogen dioxide per kilowatt/hour, 5.27 grams of sulfur dioxide and 0.62 grams of particles. In addition, the ash from the coal contained heavy metals which cause cancer.

"It is difficult to prevent trans-boundary pollution as Nan province has already lost trees which act as a buffer zone. I think the best way to prevent the problem is to plant more trees to help absorb pollutants," she said.
Sathaporn Somsak, an advisor to the Nan-based Natural Resources and Environment Protection Network, said residents of Song Khwer district also feared an impact from a high-voltage cable line from the Mae Moh plant in Lampang to the Hongsa plant which will run through the district's forest areas.

Banpu Public Company Ltd, a major shareholder in the Hongsa plant, has not commented on the claims.

EGAT PROJECT OPPOSED IN NAN
18/08/2012 at 04:37 PM
Writer: Rarinthorn Petcharoen
NAN: Local residents blocked the main road leading to this northern province on Saturday morning to protest against the the planned construction of a high-voltage transmission line.

About 300 protesters from Muang and Song Kwae districts rallied on Yantarakij Kosol Road (Nan-Phrae) in front of the Tambon Du Tai electricity substation. They oppose plans by the state-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) to build a 500-kilovolt transmission line through tambon Du Tai. Egat plans to buy electricity from a coal-fired power plant -- now under construction and jointly invested by two Thai listed energy firms -- in Hongsa district of Xayaburi province in Laos.The high-voltage transmission lines would pass through four districts of Nan -- Song Kwae, Ta Wang Pha, Muang and Wiang Sa -- to the Mae Moh power plant in Lampang province.
The power purchases are expected to begin in 2015.

Protest leader Sataporn Somsak said local villagers wanted clarity about the potential impact of the development on their way of life, communities, health and safety.They also want compensation for violations of their fundamental rights, said Mr Somsak, the coordinator of the Office of Natural Resources, Community Forest and Sustainable Agriculture Networks.

The protesters said Egat had sent its staff to conduct a survey and marked out their land without informing them. As well, he said, residents wanted clarification about cross-border environmental impact on Nan residents and the release of toxic sulphur dioxide from the coal-fired power plant.

Mr Sataporn said residents in tambon Du Tai had filed petitions with several agencies asking them to look into the issue, but had not received any response so far. The group demanded Nan provincial authorities set up a committee to study impacts from the Egat's scheme and present detailed information to the public. Reports said the situation was tense after the rally lasted for two hours but no high-ranking provincial official turned up at the scene.

The angry protesters burned two wreaths, one bearing the name of the mayor of tambon Du Tai and the other Egat, and cursed them. However, they agreed to open two lanes of the four-lane road after police asked them to help reduce traffic congestion.

The group later dispersed after Nan deputy governor Adisorn Pittayarnyon met them and pledged to urgently discuss the issue with all concerned agencies.

LAOS POWER PLANT MISSES JUMBO PAYOUT
By Beaumont Smith. September 2009.

SAYABOURY, Laos - The wildly successful Sayaboury Elephant Festival, held this year in the village of Hongsa, attracted more than 80,000 visitors, some elegantly attired, some dreadlocked ganja-inspired, despite the event's remote location in northwestern Laos. The 70 or so jumbos were by turns applauded, photographed and simply adored as they dipped like divas.

Behind the scenes, women in traditional skirts took money from thirsty visitors, sticking wads of kip, the local currency, into capacious pockets. It was the sort of tourism that gains international plaudits, with money going directly into the hands of the villagers. The event, this year's was the third, is now one of Laos' biggest tourism-related money spinners.

So why then did authorities recently give the final go-ahead to a Thailand-invested lignite mine and power station to be built only five-to-seven kilometers from the festival village of Hongsa? Sayaboury province, which cuddles like a spoon into Thailand, is Laos' center for domesticated elephants. It thus maintains the major gene pool needed for the survival of the species, which is fast dwindling.

On the event's final day, saffron-clad Buddhist monks prayed and chanted, and senior Lao government officials watched, clapped and gave speeches in praise of their national symbol, readopted as a tourism signature and in particular the symbol of the forthcoming Southeast Asian Games to be hosted in the Laotian capital of Vientiane. But the happy dancing cartoon jumbos belie the decimation of their real cousins in "the land of a million elephants", which increasingly are at risk from Laos' electricity generation designs.

"We are being told that the mine will bring jobs, and that may be true, but we want to know if we can live our lives in the village as our ancestors have done," said Mongkeo, a mahout at the festival. "We earned good money from the elephant festival and we are pleased that people want to come to see us. Now we don't know about the future. I know I have no skills in mining. I would probably just have to dig holes."

The lignite mine plans, known as the Hongsa Thermal Power Plant Project, took on a surreal quality at last year's elephant festival, when a float in the grand parade was decked in acid orange and green bunting. On top and surrounded by nylon rosettes was an artist's impression of the power plant and mine, a science fiction monstrosity set in the plains of the picturesque Hongsa Valley.

Sebastien Duffillot, program manager of ElefantAsia, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides technical assistance to Laos' Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and currently assisting in planning next year's festival, is puzzled by the government decision.

"There has been a lot invested in ecotourism, and Laos has a very good chance of being one of the global success stories," he said. "I think some people think that they can have electricity generation and elephants. There seems to be little comprehension of the consequences ... from building this power plant."

Duffillot notes that money has been distributed to help Vieng Khao village (host of the planned 2010 festival) develop community-based ecotourism, including funds to decorate guest houses, provide English classes, find new trekking routes and design more tourist-friendly mounting stations. He notes that the mine site would be 12 square kilometers and that Vieng Khao is only five to seven kilometers from the site's epicenter.

To mine lignite these days is as unhealthy as admitting to smoking five packs of cigarettes per day. Lignite is a dirty fossil fuel, so heavy in sulfur, carbon and water that often the only effective way of getting energy from its source is to process the lignite at the mine's mouth. Otherwise, the cost of transporting the coal often makes it uneconomic compared with other energy sources.

A 2007 New Zealand report called lignite the "wettest, most inefficient and polluting coal there is" and noted in its assessment of a plan there to convert lignite to liquid fuels that one lignite facility would produce twice as much carbon dioxide per year as the total amount generated by coal-fired electricity in all of New Zealand.

Environmentalists are now calling on governments to consider bringing international sanctions against countries that knowingly initiate high-carbon projects, such as the plans Laos has for Hongsa. Tellingly, the original project was rejected as uneconomic because it would have generated a mere 684 megawatts of power. The Thais and Laos have since been dickering over the price of the electricity and the plant's generating capacity.

Questionable economics
Banpu PCL, the Thai energy company leading the venture, promised 1,878 megawatts if they found an investment partner. Thai and Chinese businessmen, along with loans from the Chinese Import-Export and Development Bank, later enabled the Lao government to enter into an agreement, which includes the granting of a 25-year lease on the mine site.

TMC news reported that in 2007, Banpu was sued for tort and other civil claims from the owner of the Hongsa Lignite project, Thai Lao Lignite (TLL) and businessman Siva Nganthavee, for billions of baht in damages (US$1 = 34 baht). Banpu entered into a joint venture with TLL as the concession owner, pushed the joint venture partner out of the deal, according to the complaint. TLL and Hongsa Lignite Co are claiming against the Lao government for US$3 billion.

The government, through its Lao Holding State Enterprise, stands to make a mere US$2.5 million per year from taxes and shares in the deal. It was able to participate after agreeing to a loan of $100 million from China's EXIM Bank. It is not clear if Laos' estimated annual profit from the venture includes the cost of debt servicing.

The Thai investors, including the Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Company and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), will be the main beneficiaries of the power generated. Yet they have admitted in their technical reports and to the Thai English-language newspaper The Nation that the quality of the lignite is low, producing only 2,400 to 2,500 kilocalories, which will be converted to 10 megajoules. According to international lignite industry codes, an economic energy ratio for such projects is 10-20 megajoules, so the Hongsa mine just barely scrapes past the benchmark measure.

Geologist Surasit Areesiri of World Drilling Services, who did the geophysical analysis for the mine, did not respond to questions about energy outputs and economics. Steve Raines, a coal mining engineer in Woollongong, New South Wales, who attended the first elephant festival in Sayaboury, agreed that the mine will create huge problems unless it is carefully built and monitored.

"I don't see much reason to build lignite mines of that energy output unless there is nothing else. Hasn't Laos thought of renewables?" he said. "To run a safe and environmentally clean lignite mine these days costs a fortune. Lignite is one of those old-fashioned fuels that we choose to avoid now unless it's pulling 20-plus megajoules. It's a big price to pay so your neighbors can run air conditioners. The modern approach would be to leave it in the ground and go with renewables."

The operation of "brown coal" plants, particularly in combination with strip mining, is often politically contentious due to environmental and safety concerns. Its something that Laos' National Assembly is said to be concerned about in areas where eco-tourism is taking off.

Using an average of 13 million tonnes of lignite per year, the 12 square kilometer site will necessitate the relocation of 15 villages, the Vientiane Times quoted government sources as saying. Given the mine's location, it is likely that some of those villages are home to the mahouts who put on the increasingly popular with tourists elephant festival.

Residents of the mahout villages around Hongsa are still uncertain which of them will be required to move. Relocation due to construction is one thing, as it usually comes with some form of economic package and assistance. But involuntary relocation due to possible fallout of fly ash, acid rain and at times heavy aerial contamination by carbon disulphide, which will likely result in chemically induced devastation of plants used for elephant fodder, is quite another.

Sayaboury province has already been unsustainably logged, and both work and food sources for elephants are dwindling. Acid rain and sulfur dioxide emissions from the mine and plant will provide additional burdens to the people and elephant herds of the area, environmentalists say.

"The difficulty is that there is no information. We don't know which villages will be moved," said Madame Keo, a mahout's wife in the area. "Lao people don't usually criticize government projects, but we are angry in private."

According to an Australian volunteer biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Service (WCS) who curated an exhibition of Laos' disappearing species, "The government seems to be conflicted between industrial development and the donors wanting to develop an eco-development model. From my conversations with other biologists here, it appears that the Lao government thinks that modernization and development is all about covering the place with concrete, getting rid of the trees and the wildlife.

"They praise the wildlife at ecotourism conferences and other international meetings, and then give the go-ahead to destroy the very thing that makes Laos special: its fantastic environment. The ones who make decisions don't realize being modern is to care about the natural environment and to be eco-conscious."

The WCS now runs an elephant conservation program in Laos' southern provinces, where large-scale logging, dams and mining projects threaten some of the globe's last remaining wild tropical places. They are carefully monitoring human-elephant conflicts, as dams inundate mineral licks, food sources and well-worn tracks for elephants.

Muted protests
A consortium of donor and government agencies, including the Lao Journalists Association and conservation groups, are planning to use the upcoming Southeast Asian Games, where the mascots will be two cutely named cartoon elephants, Champi and Champa, as an opportunity to highlight the country's disappearing wildlife.

But the focus will be on prevention of poaching and changing tastes for wild foods. The push for land conversion for economic development, such as required for the lignite mine, is beyond criticism. The government does not countenance opposition to national policies, and villagers have reported in the past armed troops supporting government officials to negotiate certain contentious land concessions.

Another lignite mine and power generation plant operated by EGAT in Mae Moh, near Lampang in northern Thailand, attracted sustained local and international criticism that prompted investigations by Thailand's Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment. Air monitoring found excessive levels of sulfur dioxide, which had caused significant health problems in the surrounding community.

It has been estimated that the Mae Moh power plant has annually contributed about 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere, representing one of the biggest regional contributors to climate change. As a result, a complex and expensive set of engineering and technical controls, including meteorological warnings, now govern the running of the controversial plant. Those controls included the installation of electrostatic precipitators and forced oxidation flues to remove excessive sulfur from the plant's emissions.

Despite the government-initiated controls, a Greenpeace study in 2002 showed how the Mae Moh Power Plant produces 4.4 million tonnes of fly ash along with 39 tonnes of the neurotoxin mercury annually. The samples of fly ash tested contained three times more arsenic and 14 times more mercury than is found in normal soil. Fly ash can be used in construction and sequestered inside cement, but a lignite mine on the scale proposed for Hongsa would produce more than is possible to capture, experts say.

The major difference between Mae Moh and the proposed lignite project for Hongsa is that the public was allowed to express its displeasure in more democratic Thailand. In Laos, public demonstrations are frowned on and people's fears of government reprisals run deep. This bodes ill for Hongsa, where people and animals are dependent on locally grown fodder, food crops and ground water.

Environmentalists say that it is likely that the adjacent river Kene, a source of fish for nearby villages, will suffer contamination from pollutants spewed out by the plant. Fish are known to take up mercury. Inorganic mercury, present in a lignite mine's fly ash, can be converted by bugs found in soil and fresh water into the very poisonous methyl-mercury, a potent neurotoxin affecting both humans and elephants.

"Elephants may look huge and invulnerable, but they are very sensitive to diet, stress or change," said Richard Lair, one of the world's leading experts on Asian elephants, from his home in Lampang. "They can get diarrhea and die just from social stress. This [mine and power plant] may just kill a lot of the remaining herds."

Dwindling herds
Elephants are already highly endangered in Laos. For every live birth there are around 10 deaths, with many perishing due to lack of care or disease. There are estimated to be only 10 to 14 elephants under 10 years old in the country. If replacement is not soon achieved by breeding programs - one of ElefantAsia's goals - the species will soon be extinct in Laos. At the present ratio of births to deaths, this will happen in perhaps less than 30 years.

Meanwhile, even adult numbers are diminishing in the so-called "land of a million elephants", as touted in government tourism literature. There are only 480 domesticated elephants left in Laos, about half the number of 10 years ago. Many have been overused in logging operations and have failed to breed. Now that the forests are shrinking, there is little for them to do or eat.

The mahout tradition in Sayaboury province is ancient in its spiritual significance and Buddhist rituals. Images of the Buddha riding an elephant can be found in many of Sayaboury's temples. Hongsa, in particular, is famous throughout Southeast Asia for its elephant trapping and taming skills.

Traditional veterinary medicines, such as the use of forest herbs found to be effective in treating most minor ailments such as lacerations and boils, have recently been enhanced by modern technology from visiting international doctors. It is not, then, merely the extinction of a species that is at stake, but also a complex and still living culture that is making contributions to modern science.

Rather than reaching an inventive and possibly profitable solution to its national symbol's future, Laos seems set on following its neighbors into human-elephant confrontations, where jumbos usually lose. Bounthana, a resident of the elephant-centered tourist village near Vientiane known as Ban Na, was until recently on the front lines of the conflict.

He recounted in an interview how "our villagers were hungry after a herd of 30 elephants trampled our gardens. Our people were so angry they wanted to kill them. We could sell the tusks and toe nails."

Klaus Schwettman, a national ecotourism consultant, came to the rescue with a United Nations-funded project designed to enable people to not only coexist with elephants, but also make the jumbos into an asset. Schwettman was alarmed at the increasing pressure on herds by land conversion to plantation crops and a rise in poaching. His fears were realized when five elephants were killed in one month in the middle of this year, in the Lao Ministry of Defense-administered Phou Khao Kuai protected area in Vientiane province. Brutally butchered for parts, the elephant's faces had been hacked off.

Another was killed in Phou Phanang, an area in Vientiane province also under control of the Ministry of Defense. Each loss is a disaster for both the elephants and villagers of Ban Na, who have recently been making a good living from elephant tourism.

In Sayaboury, two domesticated elephants allowed to roam in the wild were recently shot and injured. The bull escaped serious injury, but the pregnant cow, which had as local tradition dictates been sent to the wilds to mate and had done so successfully, lost her calf, and most likely her life.

At the same time, despite rapidly dwindling herds and projects that threaten elephants' livelihoods, the authorities are giving away their remaining jumbos for diplomatic purposes. The government's recent decision to give as a gift two four-year-old elephants to North Korea as a gift angered the NGO community.

"These animals are in actual fact priceless - many times more valuable than the fanciest car," said Duffillot, noting that the sale of endangered species like elephants is illegal internationally. "So why not rent them for say three years at $1 million a year as other countries are doing? That is what China charges for its pandas. Elephants in Lao are as rare as pandas."

The irony is that if the Hongsa lignite mine project were scrapped and Sayaboury province was made into an internationally recognized center for elephant breeding, priced at $1 million per elephant per year, the government would potentially earn more profits than from its controversial energy project, say eco-tourism advocates.

The mining lease for Banphu's lignite project is for 25 years, which means that at present low levels of elephant replacement compounded with the likely environmental damage from the project, the elephants and the project might both expire at the same time.

Beaumont Smith is a Vientiane-based journalist.
2. The actual "ownership of the mine" is somewhat in dispute & subject to some very serious heavy litigation.

Bangkok Post, 24/09/2012
Banpu Plc, one of the region’s largest coal producers, could face even greater legal troubles as lawyers for Siva Nganthavee have vowed to appeal against last week’s Civil Court victory to seek even higher compensation.

The Civil Court on Thursday ordered Banpu to pay over 31 billion baht in damages to Mr Siva for what was characterised as “deception” on the part of the listed company over a partnership to develop a coal mining and power project in Hongsa, Laos.
Theerapun Petchsuwan, a lawyer representing Mr Siva, said his client will file an appeal despite his victory, pressing for higher compensation.

Mr Siva had originally sought damages of 63.5 billion baht from Banpu.

Mr Theerapun told the Bangkok Post that Banpu could land in more trouble due to a separate suit between Mr Siva and the Lao government.

Mr Siva is seeking payment of US$71 million (2.19 billion baht) from Laos for breaking the original contract held by his company, Thai-Lao Lignite, for the Hongsa power project.

Mr Theerapun claimed to have documents that state Banpu had agreed to compensate the Lao government for any legal costs related to the Thai-Lao Lignite lawsuit.
Thai-Lao Lignite won a concession from the Lao government in 1994 to develop a coal-fired power plant for electricity sales to Thailand.

In 2004, Banpu entered into a joint venture with Thai-Lao Lignite Co for the project.

But the Lao government in 2006 scrapped the project, citing a lack of development. Later, Thai energy authorities revised upwards its power demand plans, leading Laos to reopen bids for the Hongsa concession, which was won by Banpu in 2006.

In the Thai Civil Court case, Mr Siva accused Banpu of using information gained from their joint venture and “misinforming” the Lao government to cancel Thai-Lao Lignite’s original concession. The Civil Court awarded Mr Siva damages of 4 billion baht and additional compensation for opportunity losses of 860 million baht a year from 2015-27 and 1.38 billion baht a year from 2028-39.

Mr Theerapun said Mr Siva had sued three companies connected to the case: Banpu Plc, Banpu Power and Banpu International. The damage claim was 4 billion baht for the feasibility study, and 59.5 billion baht for revenue losses due to the cancellation of the Thai-Lao Lignite concession.
Mr Theerapun said under the original contract, Thai-Lao would be paid for coal used to generate electricity from the Hongsa project, equal to another $577.5 million based on demand estimates of 350 million tonnes over the lifetime of the concession at a cost of $1.65 a tonne.

“[Mr Siva] is likely to appeal to cover this loss as well as for other opportunity losses. We will know the exact amount once the full [court] ruling is completed. After that, we will submit a petition, which may be in November or December,” Mr Theerapun said.

He said Thai-Lao Lignite would also appeal the court’s decision to dismiss lawsuits filed against three directors of Banpu: president and chief executive Chanin Vongkusolkit, Ongart Auapinyakul and Chanchai Jivacate.

Mr Theerapun said Mr Siva has debts of more than 10 billion baht borrowed for the Hongsa project and was now essentially bankrupt due to the cancellation of the concession.

“According to the feasibility study, the Hongsa power plant will generate profits of around 100 billion baht over the term of the project. It’s only fair that compensation is paid to Thai-Lao Lignite, the former owner of the project,” Mr Theerapun said.

The case between Thai-Lao Lignite and the Lao government has been in arbitration since 2007.

James Berger, a lawyer with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, a law firm representing Mr Siva in the case, said the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law had ruled that Laos had to pay $57.2 million to Thai-Lao Lignite for breach of contract.

The Lao government has refused to pay the award, leading Thai-Lao Lignite to file for enforcement of the award in courts in London, Paris and New York.

Mr Berger said in an email interview that a French court confirmed the arbitration ruling in 2010, while a US court affirmed the ruling on appeal earlier this year. With interest, the total award is now worth over $71 million.

Both Mr Berger and Mr Theerapun confirmed that Banpu ultimately could be held responsible for the ruling.

Executives of Banpu could not be reached for comment. The company is expected to make an announcement on the case today.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) last week, Banpu chief financial officer Somruedee Chaimongkol denied any wrongdoing and said the company would appeal against the verdict.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post last month, Mr Chanin insisted the Hongsa project would not be affected by the litigation. He said that Thai-Lao Lignite had invited Banpu to participate in the project.

Mr Chanin denied any role that may have led the Lao government to terminate the Thai-Lao Lignite concession, and insisted that Banpu had won the new bid fairly.

Shares of Banpu fell 38 baht or 8.6% to 404 baht in trade on the SET on Friday.

Analysts said the judgement could wipe out more than two years of the company’s profits, as a legal reserve against the award is set up pending a court appeal.

BAN PU UNPHAZED BY TTL LAWSUIT
Nalin Viboonchart
The Nation February 28, 2011 12:00 am

Banpu is confident that a lawsuit claiming damages of Bt63.5 billion, filed against it by Thai-Lao Lignite (TLL), will not affect development of the 1,878-megawatt (MW) Hongsa power plant project in Laos.

Banpu recently secured a loan worth US$2.78 billion (approximately Bt94.62 billion) to finance the project. Banpu CEO Chanin Vongkusolkit said that since Hongsa was developed by Hongsa Power Co (HPC), not Banpu, TLL's lawsuit would not disrupt development. Banpu holds a 40-per-cent stake in HPC, with Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding holding 40 per cent and Lao Holding State Enterprise with the remaining 20 per cent.
TLL, the Lao government's former concessionaire for the Hongsa power project, filed a lawsuit against Banpu in 2007.

It alleged that Banpu and its subsidiaries deceived TLL into entering into an agreement in order to gain access to information about coalmine concesssions and feasibility study reports on the lignite-fired power-plant project. As a result, TLL misinformed the Lao government, leading to the concession termination.
The government later awarded the concession to the Banpu consortium. Chanin said Banpu estimated it would take more than two years to complete the hearings, since TLL's CEO Siva Nganthavee had been subject to a receivership order by the Central Bankruptcy Court and the official receiver would take his place in pursuing the civil case.
Chanin also denied TLL's allegations, saying TLL invited Banpu to invest in the Hongsa power project in late 2004. However, there were certain disagreements during the development of the project and the agreement was terminated by TLL in July 2006.

In 2006, the Lao government was worried about delays to the Hongsa project. It terminated the mining concession and power project agreement with TLL and called for a new bid process. Three Thai companies including Banpu joined the bidding. About three months later, Banpu was awarded the right to conduct a feasibility study on developing the Hongsa project. "Banpu puts much emphasis on good corporate governance, having adhered to integrity, transparency and fairness," Chanin said.

According to Noppol Milinthanggoon, managing director of Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the Hongsa power project is about 30 per cent complete. HPC last year secured a syndicated loan from nine banks, including Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and the Government Savings Bank, to finance the project. The power plant is set to be commissioned in 2015.

Despite Banpu's confidence, James Berger, a lawyer from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, which is responsible for TLL's litigation, is bullish on the lawsuit. TLL also commenced arbitration against the Lao government in 2007.

In November 2009, UNCITRAL, the core UN legal body for international trade law, ruled that the Lao government improperly breached the agreement with TLL and ordered Laos to pay US$57.2 million (Bt1.75 billion) to the company. The government is still refusing to pay the award, leading the law firm to commence enforcement proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). It subsequently filed similar actions in London, Paris and New York.

The French courts in July 2010 confirmed the ruling. The judgement from the New York Convention is expected to be made this month, said Berger. Berger said Banpu agreed to pay the Lao government's legal expenses in connection with any claims brought by TLL as a result of Laos' termination of its concession. This, he said, provided convincing evidence that Banpu benefited from the termination. He said there was also a memorandum to the prime minister of Laos in which the chairman of the Committee for Planning and Investment stated that selecting a new investor by way of an auction was not desirable because the government would have to spend a long time preparing documents. And Banpu had all the information needed to decide to develop the project. When TLL terminated the agreement with Banpu, it requested that Banpu return all information concerning the Hongsa project, but Banpu refused to do so, he said. "Laos is heavily dependent on foreign investment for its infrastructure development.

The refusal to honour the arbitration award is really a fundamental breach of trust that may become an obstacle to Laos' ability to lure foreign investors," he said. A Thai lawyer from TLL said the company was more confident about the suit against Banpu after the arbitration ruling.
TLL insisted construction in 2006 was on track and there was no reason for the termination. Regarding the civil lawsuit against Banpu, TLL claimed damages of Bt63.5 billion. Including interest of 7.5 per cent per year, the amount now totals Bt80 billion. Echoing Chanin, the lawyer said he expected the case between TLL and Banpu to be concluded in 2012 or 2013.
Hongsa might only be a quick whistle stop entering / departing Laos, but below the surface there is a lot going on.
 

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Update: The Hongsa Power Plant

From
Choui Fong Tea.

KPL) The construction work of Hongsa Lignite-fired Power Plant Project in Hongsa district, Sayaboury province, has progressed by 53.2% of its mainstream work, according to its yesterday�s press release.

The source unveiled that the works in progress are the installation of transmission lines and substations, which have been already completed by 71%, close to the 77% target set by the plan.

The construction of the two dams of Nam Leuk and Nam Ken with a water pipe system for supplying water to the plant is nearly completed, calculating for 98.4% and 92.3 % respectively.

The construction of main roads stretching from Nguean district to Hongsa district has been fully completed as well as the construction of the Nam Rae canal system.

Meanwhile the construction projects of sub-pit and main-pit reached and exceeded the target, as progressed by 50.9 and 42.7% respectively, while the lignite warehouse is 67% complete, missing to achieve the set 69.2% target.

However, the resettlement of project-affected villages and compensation has been done for 97% of households according to the plan. From the press release emerged that the community development work has finished by 56.5%, which was about 1% behind the plan. The Hongsa Lignite-fired Power Plant is expected to generate a total capacity of 1,878 megawatts in 2015.

This project is led in cooperation between the two governments of Laos and Thailand, aiming to sell electricity to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) by 1,473 MW, and supplying Electricite du Laos with the rest.
 

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Davidfl;289447 wrote:

The Mekong & the Tha Deua ferry crossing

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note the new bridge in the background.

The river has two distinct - high & low - seasons here, although this will all disappear with the new dam being bult.
When the river is low there are wide stony shores.

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A bridge update
Choui Fong Tea.

By Phommouny

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(KPL) The construction of a Mekong bridge between Ban Parkkhone in Luang Prabang and Ban Thadeua in Xayabury has been 95% completed and is expected to be fully completed by September, said an official.

Deputy Manager of the Luang Prabang-Sayaboury Bridge Construction Project Sysouk Syphanith said the bridge construction was commenced in November 2009 and cost USD 9-million.

The multibillion bridge is co financed by the EXIM Bank of the Republic of Korean (80%) and the Lao government (20%). The bridge has been designed to be 600 m long and 10 m wide, including 2.5 m for sidewalks.
 

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Davidfl;289308 wrote: 3 nights (days 12-13) in Vientiane. I count the nights in Vientiane because that is my party town to end my Laos rides in.
Once upon a time in the early 70s before the communists took over Vientiane was the party capital of S E Asia, & slowly but surely the night life is coming back.
And for me Vientiane rocks at night time. Good food, Pubs, restaurants, discos, karaokes.

The Nam Phu fountain - the new controversial night spot in the centre of downtown Vientiane.

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Ms Ning Nong is the singer with her Felicia band; & what a good powerful voice she has.

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a captivating Beer Lao PG at the Nam Phu.

The Nam Phu fountan area is supposed to be an open public park, however a lease was given to a Chiang Mai company (owner of Mix? Pub & Restaurant) to redevelop the site & turn it into a night spot.
Their original plan was to have a two storey circle of shops around the fountain, but such were the protests that they were only allowed to do one storey, & then they were kicked out / lost the contract & no financial refund.
However an extremely influential person / group took it over & still redeveloped the site into a private business - pub. All the owners with pubs & restaurants around the outside of the fountain are furious, that they have lost their view & now only face a shoddy concrete wall - tunnel. The Kopchaideu even lost their private car park..... sorry we will have that.

The Kopchaideu

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the number one draft beer Laos seller in Vte.

They have a totally new 3rd floor "cocktail lounge" with a sensational view of the KCD & street below.

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with Inthy owner of KCD & GDL

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Wind West is my other favourite nightspot, & where I end up most nights.

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Miss Tukta is the sensational bartendee & one of the highlights of Wind West

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Miss Pat is one of the singers

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an alluring couple together when at the bar & I was the last one to leave Wind West on more than one night.
Vientiane always rocks for me.
Bump for Fdale
 

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Davidfl;289272 wrote: DAY 11 PHONSAVAN - PAKXAN - VIENTIANE

The day before I started the trip I got a tip off that the new road south from Phonasavn - Pakxan was all asphalt with all the bridges complete - no stream crossings.
Too good to be true? I changed my plan to ride out to Xam Neua & back via Viang Thong - Nong Khiew - Oudom Xai.
Lets check it out & see......

The weather was still cold & wet when I set off from Phonsavan & a nippy 14 Celsius.

Some happy drizzle snaps on the way

The start of the new cut through the mountains west of Mouang Khoune

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a good road, but a shame about the weather.

The big new dam site on the Nam Ngiap?

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Part of the old asphalt road

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all good fun on a smaller bike, like a 250, but on a bigger bike you have to work at it.

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The bumpy, narrow step & winding old road lasts for about 25? kms; unfortunately I lost my all GPS track & photos for the last 3rd of this day's ride,

But I left Phonsavan about 10AM, arrived in Pakxan around 4pm & was in Vientiane about 5.30PM from memory.

Now I reckon if you want to do a northern Laos loop use the Pakxan - Phonsavan road to head north & return to Vientiane via R13 & Vang Vieng.
3 Cheers for the fast improving road network in northern Laos.
Bump for Heinekin
 

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Davidfl;289605 wrote: Xayaboury or Sayabouly?
It's one of those confusing names, & something that when I drew the first LNTA Lao Tourist maps in 2004 we debated the correct spelling for several provinces, towns & attractions.
And the guys in the head office in Vientiane said it's Xayaboury, BUT the boss & staff in the provincial tourist office quite firmly pointed out that it is Sayabouly.
I stand corrected, most definitely. Yes I got the message.

The Sayabouly Tourist Office
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The have their own provincial tourism website
http://sayaboulytourism.com/index.html
just to confirm they know what they are doing & promoting.

You don't think there is much to see or do in Sayabouly, apart from ride through from
1. Hongsa - Sayabouly - Luang Prabang
2. Sayabouly - Pak Lai - Kenthao - Tha Li / Loei/Thailand.
3. Sayabouly - Pak Lai - Vientiane.
4. Sayabouly - Phiang - Nam Phui - Thong Mixai - Pak Lai (some of the best forest & trails in Laos.)

But in the south you have
1. The Houay Namsai Medicinal Plant Preserve and Herbal Spa: "Up to 100 traditional medicinal plants are located within the village protected area of 35 ha, covered by lush green forest on mountainous hillsides, where the Nam Houng River meanders through the valley and is met by the clear-blue waters of the Namsai stream gushing from the foot of the cliffs. In this charming setting the villagers operate resort-like herbal spa."
2. Nam Thang 1000 Caves Area is a limestone karst landscape where cave-pocked cliffs surround the Khmu villages of Ban Nathang, and Ban Keo. Here the Nam Thang stream has cut right through the mountains, and winds its way, to the Nam Poui river. The traveller has a chance to explore the area’s chasms and caves while getting an insight into Lao life with a homestay option in Ban Keo Village. This area, about 43 km south of Sayabouli town can be accessed by the adventurous, along a mountain road.Cave trekking trails From Ban Keo village, village
All something worth checking out in the future.

Accommodation in Sayabouly was the Koung Haung Tong

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Eats was at the Saynam Houng
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Bump for Chang Noi asking about Pak Lay further south.
 

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Xayaboury or Sayabouly?

I have always been amazed by the Romanisation of some Lao language words. For travellers, differences are particularly puzzling in road stones, city panels, maps, official documents or websites. The first confusion is linked to differences in international phonetics. While ‘S’ and ‘X’ have absolutely the same sound in Lao, the French, first people to make intensive use of name transliteration in Indochina, preferred to write X. Later on, ‘S ‘ was favoured in English and in more international writings.

Even politics play a role in transliteration. When Phoumy Vongvichit introduced a simplified alphabet, the letter ‘R’ was banned; it was consider redundant and equivalent to ‘L’. Thus, Xayaboury becomes Sayabouly. These are not the only variations that I have spotted in a long list of possible (and really used) spellings of this city's and province's name.

These two modification (X/S and R) are not the only peculiarities in Lao names; a well established Romanisation, like the French “Vientiane”, is, for instance, difficult to replace with the more English sounding “Viang Chan”.

In my writings and unless I had a reason to prefer a more common spelling, I usually use the GT-Rider’s map writing. This is the last confusing for the many travellers using this document as a reference, and also well researched and precise.
 

brian_bkk

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Jurgen;304888 wrote: Xayaboury or Sayabouly?

I have always been amazed by the Romanisation of some Lao language words. For travellers, differences are particularly puzzling in road stones, city panels, maps, official documents or websites. The first confusion is linked to differences in international phonetics. While ‘S’ and ‘X’ have absolutely the same sound in Lao, the French, first people to make intensive use of name transliteration in Indochina, preferred to write X. Later on, ‘S ‘ was favoured in English and in more international writings.

Even politics play a role in transliteration. When Phoumy Vongvichit introduced a simplified alphabet, the letter ‘R’ was banned; it was consider redundant and equivalent to ‘L’. Thus, Xayaboury becomes Sayabouly. These are not the only variations that I have spotted in a long list of possible (and really used) spellings of this city's and province's name.

These two modification (X/S and R) are not the only peculiarities in Lao names; a well established Romanisation, like the French “Vientiane”, is, for instance, difficult to replace with the more English sounding “Viang Chan”.

In my writings and unless I had a reason to prefer a more common spelling, I usually use the GT-Rider’s map writing. This is the last confusing for the many travellers using this document as a reference, and also well researched and precise.
Well said Jurgen..

Some of the spellings on the GPS maps available are right out there.
To the point for the last few years that rarely I find the name of the place and browse the map and zoom in to the spot and click the map location on the GPS.

I wonder what Thailand's excuse is :)
You are driving to Pattaya on one motorway.. The other motorway you are driving to Phataya.

Motorway 7 and the Bang Na elevated road.

Cheers
Brian
 

DavidFL

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DAY 11 PHONSAVAN - PAKXAN - VIENTIANE

The day before I started the trip I got a tip off that the new road south from Phonasavn - Pakxan was all asphalt with all the bridges complete - no stream crossings.
Too good to be true? I changed my plan to ride out to Xam Neua & back via Viang Thong - Nong Khiew - Oudom Xai.
Lets check it out & see......

The weather was still cold & wet when I set off from Phonsavan & a nippy 14 Celsius.

Some happy drizzle snaps on the way

The start of the new cut through the mountains west of Mouang Khoune

View attachment 61747

View attachment 61748

a good road, but a shame about the weather.

The big new dam site on the Nam Ngiap?

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Part of the old asphalt road

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all good fun on a smaller bike, like a 250, but on a bigger bike you have to work at it.

View attachment 61760
The bumpy, narrow step & winding old road lasts for about 25? kms; unfortunately I lost my all GPS track & photos for the last 3rd of this day's ride,

But I left Phonsavan about 10AM, arrived in Pakxan around 4pm & was in Vientiane about 5.30PM from memory.

Now I reckon if you want to do a northern Laos loop use the Pakxan - Phonsavan road to head north & return to Vientiane via R13 & Vang Vieng.
3 Cheers for the fast improving road network in northern Laos.

That Nam Ngiep Dam
Six Vietnamese Workers Killed at Nam Ngiep 1 Construction Site

NamNghiep-1501314278-5584-1501314318_680x0.png


Six Vietnamese employees were killed when a gas cylinder exploded at the construction site of the Nam Ngiep 1 hydropower plant, according to Vietnamese media.

The explosion occurred Friday night at the Nam Ngiep plant in Bolikhamxay Province.
The precise cause of the incident is still under investigation.

Construction of the 290-megawatt hydropower plant, which will consist of two dams and two power stations, began in 2014.

It is one of nearly a dozen dam projects planned or under construction in Laos.

Vietnamese state media reported that the bodies of the dead workers would be brought back to Vietnam, while two injured workers remain in Lao hospitals.

The group worked for Vietnamese construction firm Song Da 5, which has been contracted to carry out construction of the hydropower project. The plant is jointly funded by Japanese, Thai and Lao partners.


Source: VnExpress International. July 29, 2017
Image: Song Da 5 Joint Stock Company

 

DavidFL

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Sayabouly - Hongsa
Approx 130 kms & what a brilliant motorcycle ride - a narrow, steep& winding roller coaster ride.
Stunning scenery & villages = take your time, I wanna go back for more.

The start near Sayabouly

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into the mountains & onto the roller coaster

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Scenery

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a timeless life unchanged.

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Entering a village

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and what a village.......I parked the bike beside the road & walked back up the hill to use the zoom & pull the scene in.
After taking the photo I noticed the girls on the left, walking up the hill towards me - backwards!
Yep scared of the camera. I was astounded. They continued walking backwards right past me, then once past, sprinted off home.
Oops sorry ladies. A bit of a national geographic moment I thought - aint it good to be alive.

Back on the roller coaster road out of the village

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Hongsa

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and not such a pretty sight I thought. Oh well.....progress for some somewhere.

The new Hongsa power plant

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to be coal - lignite powered.
A bit of a change since I was last here in 2007, somewhat beaten up. There was most definitely no power plant. How fast things are changing.

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Its an absolutely massive power plant

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to supply power to Thailand, sourced from the cheap Hongsa lignite.

Not everyone is happy about the development & some of the history is interesting.

Bangkok Post, 24/09/2012
Banpu Plc, one of the region’s largest coal producers, could face even greater legal troubles as lawyers for Siva Nganthavee have vowed to appeal against last week’s Civil Court victory to seek even higher compensation.

The Civil Court on Thursday ordered Banpu to pay over 31 billion baht in damages to Mr Siva for what was characterised as “deception” on the part of the listed company over a partnership to develop a coal mining and power project in Hongsa, Laos.
Theerapun Petchsuwan, a lawyer representing Mr Siva, said his client will file an appeal despite his victory, pressing for higher compensation.

Mr Siva had originally sought damages of 63.5 billion baht from Banpu.

Mr Theerapun told the Bangkok Post that Banpu could land in more trouble due to a separate suit between Mr Siva and the Lao government.

Mr Siva is seeking payment of US$71 million (2.19 billion baht) from Laos for breaking the original contract held by his company, Thai-Lao Lignite, for the Hongsa power project.

Mr Theerapun claimed to have documents that state Banpu had agreed to compensate the Lao government for any legal costs related to the Thai-Lao Lignite lawsuit.
Thai-Lao Lignite won a concession from the Lao government in 1994 to develop a coal-fired power plant for electricity sales to Thailand.

In 2004, Banpu entered into a joint venture with Thai-Lao Lignite Co for the project.

But the Lao government in 2006 scrapped the project, citing a lack of development. Later, Thai energy authorities revised upwards its power demand plans, leading Laos to reopen bids for the Hongsa concession, which was won by Banpu in 2006.

In the Thai Civil Court case, Mr Siva accused Banpu of using information gained from their joint venture and “misinforming” the Lao government to cancel Thai-Lao Lignite’s original concession. The Civil Court awarded Mr Siva damages of 4 billion baht and additional compensation for opportunity losses of 860 million baht a year from 2015-27 and 1.38 billion baht a year from 2028-39.

Mr Theerapun said Mr Siva had sued three companies connected to the case: Banpu Plc, Banpu Power and Banpu International. The damage claim was 4 billion baht for the feasibility study, and 59.5 billion baht for revenue losses due to the cancellation of the Thai-Lao Lignite concession.
Mr Theerapun said under the original contract, Thai-Lao would be paid for coal used to generate electricity from the Hongsa project, equal to another $577.5 million based on demand estimates of 350 million tonnes over the lifetime of the concession at a cost of $1.65 a tonne.

“[Mr Siva] is likely to appeal to cover this loss as well as for other opportunity losses. We will know the exact amount once the full [court] ruling is completed. After that, we will submit a petition, which may be in November or December,” Mr Theerapun said.

He said Thai-Lao Lignite would also appeal the court’s decision to dismiss lawsuits filed against three directors of Banpu: president and chief executive Chanin Vongkusolkit, Ongart Auapinyakul and Chanchai Jivacate.

Mr Theerapun said Mr Siva has debts of more than 10 billion baht borrowed for the Hongsa project and was now essentially bankrupt due to the cancellation of the concession.

“According to the feasibility study, the Hongsa power plant will generate profits of around 100 billion baht over the term of the project. It’s only fair that compensation is paid to Thai-Lao Lignite, the former owner of the project,” Mr Theerapun said.

The case between Thai-Lao Lignite and the Lao government has been in arbitration since 2007.

James Berger, a lawyer with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, a law firm representing Mr Siva in the case, said the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law had ruled that Laos had to pay $57.2 million to Thai-Lao Lignite for breach of contract.

The Lao government has refused to pay the award, leading Thai-Lao Lignite to file for enforcement of the award in courts in London, Paris and New York.

Mr Berger said in an email interview that a French court confirmed the arbitration ruling in 2010, while a US court affirmed the ruling on appeal earlier this year. With interest, the total award is now worth over $71 million.

Both Mr Berger and Mr Theerapun confirmed that Banpu ultimately could be held responsible for the ruling.

Executives of Banpu could not be reached for comment. The company is expected to make an announcement on the case today.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) last week, Banpu chief financial officer Somruedee Chaimongkol denied any wrongdoing and said the company would appeal against the verdict.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post last month, Mr Chanin insisted the Hongsa project would not be affected by the litigation. He said that Thai-Lao Lignite had invited Banpu to participate in the project.

Mr Chanin denied any role that may have led the Lao government to terminate the Thai-Lao Lignite concession, and insisted that Banpu had won the new bid fairly.

Shares of Banpu fell 38 baht or 8.6% to 404 baht in trade on the SET on Friday.

Analysts said the judgement could wipe out more than two years of the company’s profits, as a legal reserve against the award is set up pending a court appeal.

BAN PU UNPHAZED BY TTL LAWSUIT
Nalin Viboonchart
The Nation February 28, 2011 12:00 am

Banpu is confident that a lawsuit claiming damages of Bt63.5 billion, filed against it by Thai-Lao Lignite (TLL), will not affect development of the 1,878-megawatt (MW) Hongsa power plant project in Laos.

Banpu recently secured a loan worth US$2.78 billion (approximately Bt94.62 billion) to finance the project. Banpu CEO Chanin Vongkusolkit said that since Hongsa was developed by Hongsa Power Co (HPC), not Banpu, TLL's lawsuit would not disrupt development. Banpu holds a 40-per-cent stake in HPC, with Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding holding 40 per cent and Lao Holding State Enterprise with the remaining 20 per cent.
TLL, the Lao government's former concessionaire for the Hongsa power project, filed a lawsuit against Banpu in 2007.

It alleged that Banpu and its subsidiaries deceived TLL into entering into an agreement in order to gain access to information about coalmine concesssions and feasibility study reports on the lignite-fired power-plant project. As a result, TLL misinformed the Lao government, leading to the concession termination.
The government later awarded the concession to the Banpu consortium. Chanin said Banpu estimated it would take more than two years to complete the hearings, since TLL's CEO Siva Nganthavee had been subject to a receivership order by the Central Bankruptcy Court and the official receiver would take his place in pursuing the civil case.
Chanin also denied TLL's allegations, saying TLL invited Banpu to invest in the Hongsa power project in late 2004. However, there were certain disagreements during the development of the project and the agreement was terminated by TLL in July 2006.

In 2006, the Lao government was worried about delays to the Hongsa project. It terminated the mining concession and power project agreement with TLL and called for a new bid process. Three Thai companies including Banpu joined the bidding. About three months later, Banpu was awarded the right to conduct a feasibility study on developing the Hongsa project. "Banpu puts much emphasis on good corporate governance, having adhered to integrity, transparency and fairness," Chanin said.

According to Noppol Milinthanggoon, managing director of Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding, the Hongsa power project is about 30 per cent complete. HPC last year secured a syndicated loan from nine banks, including Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and the Government Savings Bank, to finance the project. The power plant is set to be commissioned in 2015.

Despite Banpu's confidence, James Berger, a lawyer from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, which is responsible for TLL's litigation, is bullish on the lawsuit. TLL also commenced arbitration against the Lao government in 2007.

In November 2009, UNCITRAL, the core UN legal body for international trade law, ruled that the Lao government improperly breached the agreement with TLL and ordered Laos to pay US$57.2 million (Bt1.75 billion) to the company. The government is still refusing to pay the award, leading the law firm to commence enforcement proceedings under the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). It subsequently filed similar actions in London, Paris and New York.

The French courts in July 2010 confirmed the ruling. The judgement from the New York Convention is expected to be made this month, said Berger. Berger said Banpu agreed to pay the Lao government's legal expenses in connection with any claims brought by TLL as a result of Laos' termination of its concession. This, he said, provided convincing evidence that Banpu benefited from the termination. He said there was also a memorandum to the prime minister of Laos in which the chairman of the Committee for Planning and Investment stated that selecting a new investor by way of an auction was not desirable because the government would have to spend a long time preparing documents. And Banpu had all the information needed to decide to develop the project. When TLL terminated the agreement with Banpu, it requested that Banpu return all information concerning the Hongsa project, but Banpu refused to do so, he said. "Laos is heavily dependent on foreign investment for its infrastructure development.

The refusal to honour the arbitration award is really a fundamental breach of trust that may become an obstacle to Laos' ability to lure foreign investors," he said. A Thai lawyer from TLL said the company was more confident about the suit against Banpu after the arbitration ruling.
TLL insisted construction in 2006 was on track and there was no reason for the termination. Regarding the civil lawsuit against Banpu, TLL claimed damages of Bt63.5 billion. Including interest of 7.5 per cent per year, the amount now totals Bt80 billion. Echoing Chanin, the lawyer said he expected the case between TLL and Banpu to be concluded in 2012 or 2013.


A "final update "on the Hongsa power plant & the court cases over it.

From today's Bangkok Post 6th March 2018

Banpu ordered to pay B1.5bn to former partner

Coal miner Banpu has been ordered to pay 1.5 billion baht in compensation to former partner Siva Nganthavee for the use of information about the coal-fired Hongsa power plant project in
Laos.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Banpu, one of Asia’s largest coal producers, to pay the plaintiff, Mr Siva and his Thai-Lao Lignite Co, the 1.5 billion baht plus annual interest at 7.5% dated back to when the suit was filed in July 2007.
In 2013, the Civil Court had ordered Banpu to pay more than 31 billion baht in damages to Mr Siva for “deception’’ in its partnership to develop a coal mining and power plant project in Hongsa, Laos.
Banpu appealed the verdict and filed lawsuits in the Civil Court seeking damages of 4 billion baht from Mr Siva.
On Sept 8, 2014, the Appeals Court overturned the Civil Court’s order that Banpu pay compensation to the plaintiff.
The court ruled that Banpu proceeded legally with the power plant venture with the Lao government after the partnership split up, so Banpu was not required to pay compensation.
Hongsa Power Company is a joint venture between Banpu Power Limited (BPP), Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Plc and the Lao government.
Mr Siva’s Thai-Lao Lignite Co was granted a concession by the Lao government to develop the Hongsa project in 1994, and in 2005 it brought Banpu in as a partner.
In September 2006, Laos notified Thai-Lao Lignite it was cancelling the contract.
Two months later it awarded a new concession to Banpu.
Mr Siva argued Banpu used information gained from their partnership to misinform the Lao government, leading to the termination of the contract.
Mr Siva’s lawyer Adul Raksanit said he was satisfied with the final outcome, as the court found the plaintiff had been wronged.
He would consider filing suits against individuals for using information about the power plant project.
Banpu's lawyer, Kasem Pumpuang, said his client was also satisfied with the ruling.
He believed the Supreme Court's decision would have no effect on Banpu share prices.
BANPU shares sank to a low of 23.60 baht before picking up to 23.90 baht, up 70 satang, at 2.56pm on Monday.​
 

DavidFL

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3 nights (days 12-13) in Vientiane. I count the nights in Vientiane because that is my party town to end my Laos rides in.
Once upon a time in the early 70s before the communists took over Vientiane was the party capital of S E Asia, & slowly but surely the night life is coming back.
And for me Vientiane rocks at night time. Good food, Pubs, restaurants, discos, karaokes.

The Nam Phu fountain - the new controversial night spot in the centre of downtown Vientiane.

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Ms Ning Nong is the singer with her Felicia band; & what a good powerful voice she has.

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a captivating Beer Lao PG at the Nam Phu.

The Nam Phu fountan area is supposed to be an open public park, however a lease was given to a Chiang Mai company (owner of Mix? Pub & Restaurant) to redevelop the site & turn it into a night spot.
Their original plan was to have a two storey circle of shops around the fountain, but such were the protests that they were only allowed to do one storey, & then they were kicked out / lost the contract & no financial refund.
However an extremely influential person / group took it over & still redeveloped the site into a private business - pub. All the owners with pubs & restaurants around the outside of the fountain are furious, that they have lost their view & now only face a shoddy concrete wall - tunnel. The Kopchaideu even lost their private car park..... sorry we will have that.

The Kopchaideu

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the number one draft beer Laos seller in Vte.

They have a totally new 3rd floor "cocktail lounge" with a sensational view of the KCD & street below.

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with Inthy owner of KCD & GDL

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Wind West is my other favourite nightspot, & where I end up most nights.

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Miss Tukta is the sensational bartendee & one of the highlights of Wind West

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Miss Pat is one of the singers

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an alluring couple together when at the bar & I was the last one to leave Wind West on more than one night.
Vientiane always rocks for me.

A brief update & link for the great news that the famous Nam Phu fountain in Vientiane will be returned to the public