A survey from state utility Vietnam Electricity found output at power plants in central and southern provinces was 2 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) below capacity due to low water levels, the Nhan Dan newspaper said.

Rising demand for electricity coupled with dry weather has caused problems for power generation in the first nine months, Vietnam Electricity's deputy chief executive, Dang Hoang An, was quoted as saying by the Tin Tuc daily.

Electricity imports from China in the first nine months jumped 34.2 percent from a year before to nearly 4 billion kilowatt hours (kwh), the daily quoted An as telling an industry ministry meeting.

An said output from hydro power plants in the first nine months reached only 59.2 percent of their annual plan due to water shortages.

Vietnam generated 67.89 billion kwh between January and September, up 14.5 percent from the same period last year, government statistics show.

Vietnam's economy grew at an annual rate of 7.16 percent in the third quarter after 6.4 percent in the second.ID:nSGE68R0F0

In April the government forecast Vietnam could be short of nearly 1 billion kwh of electricity this year due to soaring demand and dry weather hitting reservoirs.

Tin Tuc said the utility group could meet demand in the last three months, forecast at 25 billion kwh, but shortages could emerge this month when natural gas suppliers stop their feed to thermal power plants in the south to maintain gas pipelines.

At the ministry meeting, Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang urged Petrovietnam to shorten the time needed for pipeline maintenance or increase power output from other thermal power plants, Tin Tuc reported.

Reuters - October 7, 2010