HANOI, July 20 (Reuters) - Chinese energy firms China Southern Power Grid and China Power International Development Co have joined force to build a $1.75 billion coal-fired power plant in southern Vietnam, state coal mining group Vinacomin said.
Construction of the 1,200-megawatt Vinh Tan 1 power plant began on Saturday in the province of Binh Thuan, and its first generator is scheduled to start operation in December 2018, Vinacomin said in a statement at the weekend.
The second generator will be operational in June 2019, helping reduce blackouts in Vietnam’s southern region, it said.
The project, China’s biggest investment in Vietnam, is 55 percent owned by China Southern Power Grid, with China Power International Development Co holding 45 percent and Vinacomin the remaining 5 percent, the statement said.
The government has said power plants in the country’s central and southern regions would have to use imported coal, and that most would come from Indonesia and Australia.
Vietnam has been cutting coal exports to save fossil fuel for thermal power plants, as it struggles to meet soaring energy demand, projecting economic growth of 6.2 percent this year.
Coal exports in the first half of 2015 plunged an estimated 76.3 percent from a year ago to 1.08 million tonnes, following an annual drop of 44 percent last year to 7.17 million tonnes, government statistics show. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Michael Perry)