HANOI, May 11 (Xinhua) -- State utility Vietnam Electricity Group (EVN) has asked two local coal mining companies to improve supplies to power plants in the second quarter this year at the cost of lower supplies to other sectors, Vietnam News reported on Thursday.
The group also called on the two miners, Vinacomin and Dong Bac Corporation, to cut coal prices for power generation.
Vietnam's sole electricity distributor has warned of electricity shortages this summer in the country's northern part amid squeezed hydropower and thermal power.
Thermal power plants are faced with a shortage of coal supplies of up to 1.3 million tons due to low inventories, which would affect power plants' power generation, especially in the first half of this year, said EVN.
Vietnam's coal output in the January-April period fell 1.9 percent from a year ago to 16.6 million tons, according to the General Statistics Office.
It imported 11.97 million tons of coal valued at 2 billion U.S. dollars in the first four months of the year, up 25.6 percent in terms of volume from a year earlier, the statistics department said.
Meanwhile, hydropower plants are expected to cut their run rates as the El Nino weather pattern may develop in the later months of the year, bring less rainfall in the mainland, and thus lower water levels in the hydroelectric reservoirs, EVN said in a report.
Currently, the water in its reservoir is so low that the remaining output in the whole system's reservoirs is estimated at about 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours, 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours lower than previously planned, and 4.1 billion kilowatt-hours lower than the same period last year, EVN added.
As the northern provinces of the country enter the hot season during the May-July period, power consumption in the area is forecast to increase 15 percent from a year ago, causing an electricity shortage of between 1,600 and 4,900 megawatts, EVN said.
There are already signs that power demand may surge this year because of extreme weather conditions. The country's northern and central provinces experienced a heat wave last weekend, with the temperature reaching a record high of 44.2 degrees Celsius in Nghe An province, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting. ■