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Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex Project (Kien Giang): Overcoming difficulties and "opening a new way” for solving "power hunger”

The "power hungry" situation in the Northern region this summer has been posing a pressing issue for prevention and resolution of such serious shortage in other regions. What measures need to be carried out? There's no easy answer to this question. Lately, the People's Army Newspaper’s reporter visited the project site to learn more about Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex Project (Kien Giang) invested by Tan Tao Group with persistent and bold efforts, opening a new path to solve the actual "power hungry" problem.

New prominent spot in the national electricity map

Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex (KLPC) has been a national key project with a total capacity of 4,400 MW in the Master Plan VI since the beginning of the decade. It has been an over-years ambition of electricity planners and will be a “steel fist” to meet energy demand of Southern provinces in the acceleration of national industrialization and modernization. Nevertheless, the journey from dream to reality is full of difficulties.

Over seven years ago, Australian and Japanese investors came to undertake the site investigation for investment based on the Master Plan VI. Nevertheless, following a number of site visits and investigation, they had to shake their heads and gave up due to multiple accumulating difficulties in spite of existing planning: the power complex is located in an inhabited sea in Ba Hon Hamlet, Kien Luong town, the only place having rock mountains but lacking a port for raw material. Coal sources in the Northern region are gradually exhausted and the Government does not permit to move the coal sources to the South. Meanwhile, KLPC is a large-scale project with a total investment up to US$ 6-7 billion positioned in the period of global economic downturn...

Since 2007, whilst Ms. Dang Thi Hoang Yen, Chairman of Tan Tao Group proposed to invest Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex, many people are skeptical about the "carrying-rocks- to patch-the-sky” plan. Over the past years, private enterprises have only participated in building small-scale hydro power plants and there're no precedence of a private enterprise invests a national key power plant such as of Kien Luong. There have been many reactions from the ministries, departments and agencies. Nevertheless, Chairwoman Yen resolutely undertakes the investment just like her decision, "paving the way", to invest Tan Tao Industrial Park, the first industrial park in Vietnam successfuly invested by a non-state enterprise in the period 1996 - 2002, opening a new era for the socialization of all economic sectors for building industrial parks.

Tan Tao Group has hired the world-leading consultants for investigation over the past two years to develop a solution of building a deep-water port on Nam Du Island in Kien Giang Bay. The Group’s Chairwoman and leaders actively seek and negotiate with Australian and Indonesian coal suppliers to enter into coal export agreements for the operation of the thermal power complex.

After many appraisals, in early 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Trade officially approved the basic design of the complex. On July 23, 2009, Kien Giang Provincial People's Committee officially granted investment certificate to Kien Luong 1 Thermal Power Plant. Especially, according to the Finance Ministry's proposal, the Project belongs to the National Electricity Development Master Plan VI for the period 2006-2015 with a vision to 2025 and is one of the projects approved by the National Assembly for the Government guarantee. Thus, on July 27 2009, the Prime Minister issued an in-principle approval for Kien Luong 1 project. With its tireless and constant efforts, Tan Tao has marked a new prominent spot in Vietnam’s electricity development map.

Dig up mountains and fill the sea for electricity of the Country

The People's Army Newspaper’s reporters who won three times the first prize “Electricity Thrifty” popularization contest held by the Electricity of Vietnam, despite having the proven experiences with the national electricity development models, still were astonished in seeing the construction of Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex. Whilst we arrived, the remote and distant coastal area of Kien Giang province has become a giant project site with hundreds of trucks transporting sand and rock all night for reclamation. Over 100 hectares of the immense sea surface in the depth of three to thirteen meters have been filled since April 9-2009 and its 70% of reclamation quantity has been completed.

According to the initial plan, the project will be located in the area of shrubs, cajuput and mangrove swamps close to the Ba Hon sea. Nevertheless, the owner confronted a "big stone" due to the “project sniffing” land speculation, which shoves the land compensation rate up even higher than that in Ho Chi Minh City. Consequently, the owner has resorted to “doing itself” by dredging and backfilling nearly 600 ha of sea surface with total quantity up to 48 million cubic meters. It is truly a bold and challenging plan and is really a dig-up-mountains and fill-the-sea. Additionally, another difficulty is backfilling materials. The material mines including Hon Heo, Tra Duoc, Vinh Mountain, May Mountain, Mui Cop...were proposed many times by the Group for mining but the local authority responded that they are exhausted or located in the prohibited area. Once more, the owner must purchase the materials faraway. Nevertheless, just over a year, Tan Tao had dredged 5.5 million cubic meters of mud, backfilled dozens of million cubic meters of sand and rock to create 88 hectares for Kien Luong 1 project. Total investment for layout construction amounts to nearly VND 2,000 billion. It is rarely that investors not yet commencing the project have drastically made such strong efforts for investment and deployment.

Impressed by new technologies

We have visited various projects of embankment dike, sea reclamation such as Dung Quat oil refinery plant, Binh Thuan thermal power plant....with the construction participation of the military enterprises including Lung Lo Company, Dong Bac Corporation, we are once again impressed by the reclamation technology used by Tan Tao Group.

Hundreds of thousands of concrete, reinforced sheet piles with1m wide and 28-44 m long, weighing 15-25 tons per pile, produced by a proprietary technology of Misubishi (Japan) have been transported by 500-2000 tons barges and have been pile-pressed into the seabed by crane systems and huge machine hammers, forming a solid embankment wall. Thus, the technology can control big waves and tide, and form a solid layout to prevent it from being swept away in old technology. To date, the contractors have built 6.5 km/8km of piles of breakwater. According to engineer Le Van An, Labor Hero, Agriculture and Irrigation Mechanization Electrification - Construction Corporation, “This breakwater is the largest and unique in Vietnam and uses the sheet piles of Mitsubishi’s proprietary technology that has never been adopted in Vietnam”. According to Chairwoman Dang Thi Hoang Yen, this technology, with Tan Tao as the pioneer, would open a new way for construction of coastal works in Vietnam.

Furthermore, we are particularly impressed with flower garden, green plants in the middle of the sea. Eventually, Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex will be the first “green, clean and beautiful” thermal power plant in Vietnam like Japan’s modern thermal power plants that she had seen beforehand. With Kien Luong, Tan Tao Group want to deliver a new image of thermal power plant, will no longer be an obsession with environmental pollution like the conventional thermal power plants.

According to Mr. Thai Van Men, President of ITACO - an subsidiary of the Tan Tao Group, which has been assigned to invest in infrastructure for Kien Luong Thermal Power Complex, the information about financial difficulty resulting in the project delay is completely fabricated by some fraudulent subcontractors in mud dredging and backfilling. Thus, dismissed from the project, they found ways to sabotage the project. According to Pham Vu Hong, Vice Chairman of Kien Giang People’s Committee, KLPC is a national key project and noted that the owner has strived to speed up the piling, embankment and backfilling. Kien Giang People’s Committee will continue to support the owner in policies and mechanisms in the coming time. Tan Tao Group affirms that at the current progress, Kien Luong 1 Thermal Power Plant will have its construction commenced in December 2010 after obtaining the Government guarantee and Power Purchase Agreement...

Article and photos by: DUC TOAN- NGUYEN MINH