General Electric has had a presence in the Middle East region since the 1930s, MEE talks to Joseph Anis, regional executive for the Middle East to find out why this region is so important to the GE Energy business.
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Q: GE’s presence in the Middle East region dates back to the 1930s, how did it all begin and how has it evolved?

A: We have been present in the Middle East since the 1930s as a company, and GE Energy has been active since the 1960s, with projects in Saudi Arabia and then across the region. Today, we have regional offices set up in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Egypt. We also have local service centres that repair and service facilities in Saudi and Abu Dhabi. We have also recently opened up power plant offices, which are essentially project management offices overseeing the execution our projects in the region.

Q. Why is the Middle East power/water sector such an attractive market for GE Energy?

A: The strong economic growth that we see in the Middle East is driving the power generation project opportunities for our team in the region. The tremendous need for more installed capacity throughout the region in order to sustain that growth, and in some cases, to avoid power shortages that have occurred in parts of the region. Furthermore, significant investments in water and power have been announced by a number of countries in the region as part of larger infrastructure plans, so we anticipate seeing about 130 GW coming out over the next ten years in the region.

Q: How does GE Energy operate in the region? Is it simply through having a direct presence or does the company also have joint ventures and/or strategic alliances?

A: Direct presence is how we work with our customers in the region, through a combination of our regional offices and working with local nationals. We do however have some joint ventures in our service centres in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, but other than that everything is through having a direct presence.

Q: What makes GE Energy stand apart from other OEMs serving the Middle East power/water sector?

A: GE’s Energy business is well positioned to help meet the region’s demand for reliable, cleaner and more efficient energy.

GE Energy is one of the world’s leading suppliers of technology, products and services to the energy industry. Our customers recognize us as a leading technology provider with a great reputation for successful project execution. They value the business relationships we have formed through our many years of doing business in the region and delivering on our commitments. Our commitment to the Middle East is focused entirely on understanding our customers and making them grow. We demonstrate this on three platforms:

1. Growth: innovative and localized solutions that help the region meet current and future market needs and allow us to partner in regional growth.
2. Technology: proven, world-class technology to provide efficient and reliable solutions, while helping customers meet increased environmental challenges.
3. Localization: increased fulfillment and local service capabilities that provide customer satisfaction and create strong and lasting partnerships.

Q: GE Energy has an extensive technology portfolio. What products have proved to be the most popular in this region, and what do you think are the reasons behind their popularity?

A: GE Energy provides a comprehensive range of solutions across the energy value chain, from supply and conversion to delivery, utilization and services. Historically, gas turbine generation has been very popular in the Middle East region. To date we have installed more than 600 gas turbines in the region, with over 350 of those being in Saudi Arabia.


GE has installed more than 600 gas turbines in the Middle East region
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Q. Which countries in the region does GE Energy conduct the most business with, and are there those that GE would have reservations in supplying?

A: The demand for power generation equipment that we see is growing right across the region, so we are looking to work with all the countries where opportunities arise. Saudi Arabia, which announced the addition of over 20 GW of capacity, has been particularly active with a lot of new [power] projects. Demand driven by industry, as well as the actual utilities. We also see some activity in Qatar, Kuwait and UAE, but it really spreads right across the region.

Q. To date, what is the biggest order that GE Energy has received from the Middle East region?

A: Since the end of 2006 we have been awarded over $4bn in projects, which include 85 gas turbines, together with the associated equipment and services. Some of those contracts include projects in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi Electric Company (Sec), where we have supplied 23 F-class gas turbines for three of their power plant project, as well as our E class gas turbines, which are going to SEC’s Riyadh power plant. We are also supplying 12 F-class gas turbines, which will operate in combined-cycle, to the Marafiq IWPP, the largest IWPP in the region.

Q: How do you view the uptake of GE Energy’s well-publicized ‘ecomagination’ products in the region?

A: With the global demand for energy growing there is more and more concern over the possible impact that this will have on the environment, and it is no different in the Middle East. A lot of customers in the region are looking at how to deal with these environment challenges. With our Ecomagination‚ product line we are confident that GE Energy offers a balanced portfolio of energy options that, for example, have lower emissions. We believe that interest in this product portfolio will grow in this region.

Q: Most OEMs are now expressing concerns over supply chain bottlenecks. In order to serve this fast growing market, how is GE Energy guarding against such supply chain problems?

A: The key, as far as GE Energy is concerned, is to work closely with your customers. This is the first thing we do so that we better understand what the customers needs are for any given project, and therefore better plan how to serve those needs.

Q: How is GE Energy’s services business developing in this region?

A: First and foremost, our services in the region are focused on providing the traditional installation services that accompany selling power generation equipment. That also includes certain contracts providing long-term service agreements, where we provide customers with availability and reliability guarantees depending on what their needs are. Second, our services business is also looking at the environmental and emission solutions that we talked about earlier, particularly with the utilities and industrials.

We also have our optimization and control business that focuses on availability and reliability, so it is looking to provide a total solution for energy customers.

Q: How does GE Energy see power generation from renewable sources developing in the region and where is there most interest?

A: The countries that are talking about utilizing renewable energy really span the region. Some have announced specific plans, such as Egypt, which is looking to have 20 per cent of its generation capacity being from renewables, such as wind power by 2020.

At more recent OPEC meeting most of the GCC countries have also talked about looking at renewable solutions going forward in the region. I believe renewable energy is something we will see more and more in this region. I also believe that GE Energy has a good product portfolio that will be able to serve those needs.

Q: Looking to the future, how do you see GE Energy’s business developing in this region?

A: We anticipate seeing our continued growth in the region, primarily driven by the additional need for power and water. GE Energy remains committed to working with our customers in the region and we will continue to invest in our resources locally in order to support this valuable customer base.