InFebruary, Wood Group Engineering Services(WGES) officially opened two new additions to its existing facilities in Jebel Ali, Dubai. In itself it may seem like minor news but I found it interesting nevertheless.

WGES, part of the Gas Turbine Services Division of John Wood Group (Wood Group), has opened a state-of-the-art test cell, the first of its kind in the region for testing Solar Centaur 40 and Mars 90 and 100 engines. A new dedicated rotating equipment facility has also been opened. This latest investment in Dubai exceeds $5 million and brings the group’s total investment in the region to more than $50 million.

Steve Hawley, WGES general manager noted: “We can now offer local customers with Solar engines a complete package refurbishment or a single engine overhaul, as well as full testing, resulting in a much quicker turnaround.

“We set up the dedicated specialised rotating equipment facility, which incorporates state-of-the-art repair technologies, to offer clients a complete in-house repair, overhaul and test service for high-speed rotating equipment,” he added.

The news is significant in that it shows that companies are taking the view that there is sufficient long term business in the region to warrant investing in local repair and test facilities.

The scope for repair of rotating machinery in the region is huge. There has been an explosion of new gas turbine plants, especially in the United Arab Emirates. And with the harsh local conditions, certainly at the moment there is no better place to locate this type of facility and expertise.

According to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), in 2004 power consumption grew by about 14 per cent compared to the previous year. Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of Dewa commented: “We expect this to grow at an annual 15 to 18 per cent until 2012. Our Dh20 billion ($5.4 billion) investment over the next five years is planned to cover all future power generation and water consumption needs until 2012.”

The new investment will increase Dewa’s power generation capacity to 9800 MW from the current 3833 MW, and desalinated water capacity to 110 million gallons per day from the current level of 61.48 million gallons per day.

In the neighbouring emirate, Abu Dhabi, it is a similar scenario. Electricity demand is growing at an annual average of about 8-10 per cent. It could spend as much as $10 billion in generation and transmission over the next five years to increase its installed generating capacity to more than 9000 MW.

Outside of the UAE, gas turbine based power and desalination plants are being ordered at a pace which is seeing announcements being made every few weeks. The last couple of months alone have seen orders in Oman, Yemen, Dubai Qatar to name but a few.

And it is not just large gas turbines which present opportunities. With industry and the need for industrial-sized gas turbines growing at a pace, the move by WSEG will be welcomed by local operators. WGES will also provide local service solutions for operators of Siemens (Ruston) gas turbines, plus field service covering a range of routine on-site maintenance activities associated with rotating equipment, including predictive and preventative maintenance, troubleshooting , installation and commissioning.

With most of the new generation in the region being gas turbine based, setting up more gas turbine centres of excellence makes good sense. If manufacturers are serious about realising the long term potential of the gas turbine market in the Middle East, they must continue to invest in field engineers, repair and testing centres.

You may have noticed that we have re-designed this issue of MEE, going for a new, fresher look. We hope you like it. For us it certainly demonstrates that we at PennWell are taking the region seriously and also plan to be here for the long term.