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Coal-run thermal power plant slated for Soc Trang province

Despite a warning about coal depletion in Vietnam, the Indian-owned Tata Group still plans to set up a coal-run thermal power plant in Soc Trang province in Vietnam, capitalized at $1.8 billion.

The Long Phu 2 thermal power project, expected to be implemented under the mode of BOT (build-operate-transfer) was mentioned by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung at a press conference held after a talk with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi some days ago.

If the project is developed as planned, it will be the largest Indian investment in Vietnam and the largest foreign-invested project in the Mekong River Delta.

Long Phu 2, with the designed capacity of 1,320 MW, is expected to become operational by 2019. It would be one of three power plants in Soc Trang.

Tata Group, the investor of Long Phu 2, is a familiar foreign investor in Vietnam. It had once planned to develop a $5 billion steel complex project in Ha Tinh province, but later gave up the project due to problems in site clearance.

The return of Tata Group to Vietnam, in the eyes of LiveMint, an Indian website, is part of Tata’s ambitious plan to expand its business in Southeast Asia, implemented in response to India’s East-oriented policy initiated by the Indian government.

Coal supply

Under the national overall power development plan, 57 coal-run thermal power plants will be built in Vietnam. It is expected that by 2020, the total capacity of the plants would reach 36,000 MW, and provide 154 billion kwh of electricity, or 47 percent of the total total electricity output.

The figures would be 75,700 MW and 56 per cent of the total electricity output by 2030.

According to Tata Power, a subsidiary of Tata Group, Long Phu 2 would use coal imported from Indonesia or Australia which will be carried to Vietnam on large ships with tonnage of over 100,000 DWT.

Meanwhile, Vietnam itself will have to import coal to feed thermal power plants developed by Vietnamese investors from 2016.

A report of the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacoal) said from 2016, Vietnam will have to import several millions tons a year, while imports would be 20-30 million tons by 2020.

Regarding coal supply sources, Dr. Nguyen Tien Chinh, an independent energy expert, warned there was no official document on information about how much coal the world can provide to Vietnam. Moreover, it is still questionable how many years Vietnam can buy coal from other global sources.

Chinh said it would be risky if more thermal power plants are set up in Vietnam with unclear coal supply sources.

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