Lao gov’t gives green light to PetroTrade for Laos-Vietnam railway development

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Lao government has entrusted and given the right to the Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PetroTrade) to conduct a feasibility study on the Laos-Vietnam Railway Project, from Thakhaek district in Khammuan province, Laos, to the Vietnamese border.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment, on behalf of the government, and PetroTrade signed an MOU in Vientiane on Tuesday to study and complete a detailed design of the railway.

The MOU was signed by Planning and Investment Deputy Minister Ms Khamchan Vongseneboun and PetroTrade Chairman Mr Chanthone Sitthixay.

Witnessing the event were Public Works and Transport Minister Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Mr Alounkeo Kittikhoun, Khammuan Governor Mr Oday Soudaphone, officials and representatives from the Indonesian Embassy to Laos, and honorable guests.

Development of the Laos-Vietnam railway from Thakhaek to the Vung Ang seaport in Vietnam has significantly progressed since the government provided trust and the right for PetroTrade to conduct a detailed feasibility study of the railway, which will provide a convenient international connection.

The railway begins in Thakhaek and runs to the Laos-Vietnam border to connect to Vung Ang seaport in Ha Tinh province, Vietnam. The railway will connect Laos to the Asean region and enable the development of infrastructure and facilities for trade-investment and agriculture, which gives Laos the potential to become a modern, industrialised country.

It will also transform Laos from a landlocked to a land-linked country, connecting regionally to realise the socio-economic development plan as the government gives the right for PetroTrade to conduct a detailed feasibility study on the development of the railway.

During an interview on this occasion, Mr Chanthone told media that “After we signed the MOU between PetroTrade and the Indonesian Railway Development Consortium on June 25, 2019, on the railway development project from Thakhaek to Vung Ang seaport to connect and facilitate trading within the region and internally and reduce the cost of commodity transport and services to enhance the potential for economic development, PetroTrade is only a part to support government policy and is given the right by the government to develop the project.

Mr Chanthone added, “The railway will cover a distance of between 240 km and 270 km and initially will be surveyed from Thakhaek to the Laos-Vietnam border. After obtaining permission from the Vietnamese government, the company will continue the survey from the Vietnamese border to Vung Ang seaport over about 150 km on the Lao side and another 120 km on the Vietnam side. The survey and design will be completed in 8 to 12 months. Later, if we obtain official permission from the Lao and Vietnamese governments, construction of the railway shall be initiated at the end of 2021 and expected to complete within 3 years by 2024.”

“Regarding the railway size, it will be a single-track railway in line with international standards to accommodate transport and passengers with a speed of between 90 and 120 km an hour using equipment and technology from Indonesia. The investment form will be BOT or PPP and shall depend on the survey-design output. By then we shall be able to provide more details about the form of investment,” Mr Chanthone said.

The project investment value will be determined and announced at future press conferences.

PetroTrade was founded in 2008. Lao citizens are the primary investors in the business, with the vision of delivering quality fuel at a fair price to all areas for better quality of life. This inspiration came from the firsthand experiences of the founder who saw that access to fuel supplies in remote areas was usually a problem and caused significant economic damage.

In 2014, PetroTrade was listed on the Lao Securities Exchange (LSX) to attract Lao and foreign investors as shareholders. It has written a new page in Lao history in the context of being the first local company in the petroleum business to be listed on the LSX.

PetroTrade envisages future opportunities where economic competition will become much more intense owing to implementation of the Asean Economic Community and the rising domestic consumption of energy in response to the government’s policy of bolstering national economic growth and turning Laos from a land-locked country into a land-linked hub within the region.

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