Section 2 Transforming the 3S Rivers in Cambodia

This section of this report provides background on some key hydropower projects proposed for the 3S area, including project details, their status, the process of approval and consultation so far, and information on the developers involved. This includes six proposed dams: the Lower Sesan 2, Lower Sesan 3, Lower Sesan 1/5, Lower Srepok 3 and 4, and the Lower Sekong.50 There also follows a breakdown of available information on the main transmission lines that may connect these dams to the proposed Cambodian energy grid and to neighbouring countries.

In 2003, the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (MIME) and the Cambodian National Mekong Committee (CNMC) prepared a National Sector Review for hydropower, which identified 60 possible sites for hydropower development in the country. The same study estimated the country's total hydropower potential at 10,000 MW, of which 50% is on the mainstream Mekong, 40% on its tributaries and 10% in the southwest outside the Mekong basin. In a list of long term development plans for Cambodian hydropower, the review includes the Lower Sesan 2, Lower Sesan 3 and Lower Srepok 3 as priority projects.51

The following project summaries are in places incomplete, and although a number of official documents are referenced, in places they draw heavily on media sources to fill information gaps. This is unsurprising considering the lack of openness and access to information that has become a trend in Cambodian hydropower development. If the Cambodian energy sector is to be developed in a way that maximizes positive outcomes and minimizes harms to the environment and affected communities, increased transparency is crucial.

50 For the sake of clarity, the dams on 3S rivers inside Cambodia all use the prefix "lower", and in Laos and Vietnam "upper".

51 Cambodia National Mekong Committee (prepared by MIME), National Sector Review 2003: Hydropower, June 2003 (p5, 8-9).