• 11 hours Russia Approves Profit-Based Oil Tax For 2019
  • 15 hours French Strike Disrupts Exxon And Total’s Oil Product Shipments
  • 17 hours Kurdistan’s Oil Exports Still Below Pre-Conflict Levels
  • 19 hours Oil Production Cuts Taking A Toll On Russia’s Economy
  • 21 hours Aramco In Talks With Chinese Petrochemical Producers
  • 22 hours Federal Judge Grants Go-Ahead On Keystone XL Lawsuit
  • 23 hours Maduro Names Chavez’ Cousin As Citgo Boss
  • 1 day Bidding Action Heats Up In UK’s Continental Shelf
  • 1 day Keystone Pipeline Restart Still Unknown
  • 2 days UK Offers North Sea Oil Producers Tax Relief To Boost Investment
  • 2 days Iraq Wants To Build Gas Pipeline To Kuwait In Blow To Shell
  • 2 days Trader Trafigura Raises Share Of Oil Purchases From State Firms
  • 2 days German Energy Group Uniper Rejects $9B Finnish Takeover Bid
  • 2 days Total Could Lose Big If It Pulls Out Of South Pars Deal
  • 2 days Dakota Watchdog Warns It Could Revoke Keystone XL Approval
  • 3 days Oil Prices Rise After API Reports Major Crude Draw
  • 3 days Citgo President And 5 VPs Arrested On Embezzlement Charges
  • 3 days Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension
  • 3 days Statoil Looks To Lighter Oil To Boost Profitability
  • 3 days Oil Billionaire Becomes Wind Energy’s Top Influencer
  • 3 days Transneft Warns Urals Oil Quality Reaching Critical Levels
  • 3 days Whitefish Energy Suspends Work In Puerto Rico
  • 3 days U.S. Authorities Arrest Two On Major Energy Corruption Scheme
  • 3 days Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 4 days Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 4 days South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 4 days Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 4 days Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 4 days Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 4 days ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 6 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 7 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 7 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 7 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 7 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 7 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 7 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 7 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 7 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 8 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
Alt Text

Canada Aims To Solve U.S. Nuclear Woes

Canada is bidding to replace…

Alt Text

The Mysterious Company Behind Kyrgyzstan's Hydro Disaster

Kyrgyzstan’s hydropower drama has reached…

Alt Text

U.S. Failing To Harness Hydro Power Potential

Hydroelectric plants, while representing an…

India, China, Among Others Eye Himalaya’s Hydroelectric Potential

India, China, Among Others Eye Himalaya’s Hydroelectric Potential

For many, the Himalayas, site of the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest, and shrouded by Buddhist cultures such as Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, is a romantic region shrouded in mystery, as exemplified in the 1937 movie, “Lost Horizon.”

Now reality is about to impinge upon the “roof of the world,” as surrounding nations prepare plans to harness the hydroelectric potential of the mighty rivers, including the Mekong, the Brahmaputra Yangtse and Yellow rivers. It is the headwater of rivers on which nearly half the world depends descending from the Tibetan plateau.

Now, southern Himalayan watershed nations India, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan are all developing massive hydroelectric schemes to build overall more than 400 hydroelectric dams which, if built, could collectively provide more than 160,000 megawatts of electricity to their developing economies.

To the north?

China is developing plans for roughly 100 dams to generate a similar amount of power from Tibet’s major rivers.

And to the east, 60 or more dams are being planned for the Mekong River, which also rises in Tibet and flows south through Southeast Asia on its way to the South China Sea.

Related article: Supply Policies Prevent Hydropower from Fulfilling its Potential

According to Ed Grumbine, visiting international scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Kunming and author of a paper on the topic in “Science” magazine, over the next two decades "the Himalayas could become the most dammed region in the world. India aims to construct 292 dams... doubling current hydropower capacity and contributing 6 per cent to projected national energy needs. If all dams are constructed as proposed, in 28 of 32 major river valleys, the Indian Himalayas would have one of the highest average dam densities in the world, with one dam for every 32km of river channel. Every neighbor of India with undeveloped hydropower sites is building or planning to build multiple dams, totaling at minimum 129 projects."

Should these ambitious projects be realized, then China, which is building multiple dams on all Tibet’s major rivers, could emerge as the ultimate controller of water for nearly 40 per cent of the world's population.

So, will the various nations rimming the Himalayas cooperate in utilizing the water?

India, with whom China fought a brief war in 1962 in the Himalayas over a disputed frontier, have already disputed the headwaters of the Brahmaputra River and China’s hydroelectric plans along the Brahmaputra’s source, the Arun River, before it descends into India. Both the Brahmaputra and Indus rivers have their origins in a lake in western Tibet near Mount Kailash.
Further east, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos are alarmed by China’s intentions to build three massive dams on the upper reaches of the Mekong River, adding to six existing hydroelectric facilities.

Related article: Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam, Bad Idea?

Indian strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney observed, "China has always been unapologetic about its refusal to enter into water sharing agreements with any states. It has always maintained that it would take into account interests of the lower riparian states but about half of the world's total number of large dams are in China. India, with so many of its major rivers originating in Tibet, is going to be among the worst affected. The issue is usually soft pedaled by the water resources ministry, and there is never any international pressure on this though the list of countries suffering because of China's refusal is quite long including Russia, Kazakhstan, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos."

Just to spice things up, Pakistan is also concerned about India’s ongoing construction of two hydroelectric dams on the upper reaches of the Indus River. Islamabad is concerned that the 45 megawatt, 190-foot tall Nimoo-Bazgo concrete dam 44 megawatt Chutak hydroelectric power project will reduce the Indus River’s flow towards Pakistan, as they are capable of storing up to 4.23 billion cubic feet of water, violating the terms of the bilateral 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

How concerned?

Four months ago Lahore’s “The Nation” newspaper published an editorial entitled, “War with India inevitable: Nizami.”

Lost horizons, indeed.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Philip Branton on August 15 2013 said:
    Too bad Brad Pitt did not make this an issue in the Tibet movie he starred in to educate the viewers of what is really at stake...!
  • LOB on August 17 2013 said:
    Good article.

    This is the reason why Americans love to make noises about Tibet being an independent country, it is to annoy the Chinese. Tibet has been part of China for around 700 years. Much longer than Hawaii has been part of the US.

    No one could care a rats arse about Tibet. Good to see the Chinese and Indians building clean hydroelectric plants instead of coal plants or nuclear energy plants.
  • Sumit on June 07 2015 said:
    Tibet has never been a part of China. It is a distinct culture and ethnic group. Chinahas forcefully occupied Tibet because of its water and natural resources and as a high vantage point for placement of its nuclear weapons. It has suppressed the local buddhist culture and forced their leader Dalai Lama to seek exile in India.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News