GE Expands Turbine Repair in Saudi Arabia, Technology Research in Brazil

Global power generation supplier GE Energy, a unit of General Electric Corp. headquartered in Atlanta, announced that it has established in Saudi Arabia a new 10,000 sq. m. manufacturing technology center that will provide high technology service, manufacture and training to the region.

Dubbed the GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Center (GEMTECH), the center consists of three main components: a manufacturing facility for power, water and oil and gas industry equipment; a service and repair center for advanced turbine equipment (which is, according to GE, the largest of its kind in the world); and a US$20 million technology and managerial training facility.

The businesses that comprise GE Energy include GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas. GEMTECH will reportedly bring GE Energy’s advanced gas turbine technology, called F-technology, to the region for the first time. At the opening of the center June 1, 2011, GE announced an additional investment of US$150 million for establishing a Saudi an energy industry equipment manufacturing hub, which brings the total investment in the center to US $250 million.

GE is making global efforts to provide more local decision-making, products, and investment opportunities within the countries it serves. GE Vice Chairman John Krenicki said, “As Saudi Arabia forges ahead with its ambitious development plans, the center underscores GE’s commitment to be closer to our customers who trust us to deliver the latest technologies and services across the energy landscape. The additional investment we announced today is designed to accelerate the localization of our capabilities.” One goal of the center is to employ at least 500 Saudi nationals by 2015 who will become part of the planned 1,000-person workforce there.

More than 500 GE turbines are installed in the Kingdom, generating half of Saudi Arabia’s power. The company’s water treatment technologies are also supporting Saudia Arabia. GE’s history there includes acting as an equipment supplier in 1942 for the Kingdom’s its first oil expedition. GEMTECH supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2020, an initiative to expand the Kingdom’s manufacturing and export sectors.

GEMTECH was developed in association with Ali A. Tamimi Co., a local GE joint venture partner for almost 60 years. President Tariq Tamimi said: “We see this new center as a regional hub for the energy industry which will effectively complement and boost current energy service capability.”

Joining in the celebration of the center’s opening were more than 400 high level government officials as well as representatives from GE’s key customers including Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

Investment in Brazil

In related news weeks earlier, GE announced that its fifth and newest GE Global Research facility will be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The US$100 million center will be located on the Ilha do Bom Jesus peninsula and, when fully operational, will employ 200 researchers and engineers. Work at the center will focus on advanced technologies for the oil & gas, renewable energy, mining, rail and aviation industries.

According to Joao Geraldo Ferreira, chief executive officer for GE Brazil, “The Global Research Center will offer local research and development services for our major Brazilian industry partners, including Petrobras, the fourth largest energy company in the world; Embraer, the main jet engine manufacturer in Brazil; VALE, the country’s largest mining company and the second largest mining company in the world; and countless other partners throughout Latin America.”

Geraldo Ferreira said, “Brazil is one of the countries (Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, for example, are others) where we are pursuing this ‘company to country’ approach. GE may be a global company with global reach, but we also want to be local for the local people. Brazil, which accounts for some 40 percent of our Latin American revenue, is going to be a major proving ground for that initiative.”

Other local efforts in Brazil, he said, include “opening our first healthcare plant in South America in the city of Contagem, Minas Gerais, where we already have lighting and transportation plants. The plant will initially produce X-ray and mammography equipment.”

Renee Robbins Bassett, renee.bassett@automationworld.com, is Managing Editor of Automation World magazine.

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