News digest

Caterpillar boost: Caterpillar saw first quarter earnings rise as it boosted volume, improved manufacturing efficiency and benefited from favourable currency translation. The company reported a ten per cent rise in machinery sales with improvements in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia/Pacific.

CMS refinances: CMS Energy has secured $850m in financing from a consortium of banks as part of its financial improvement plan. CMS reported a loss of $620m for 2002 but assets sales, financings and cost controls have seen liquidity improve by $1.4bn.

DynaMotive develops: DynaMotive Energy Systems reported the implementation of a $2.75m cost saving programme for 2003 as well as progress towards establishing a commercial demonstration plant in Canada producing BioOil to provide heat and power to industry.

Flygt pump action: ITT Flygt has acquired Venice-based pump manufacturer, Uniservice Wellpoint Srl. ITT Flygt is based in Sweden and is a supplier of submersible pump, mixer and aeration solutions. Wellpoint manufactures a range of diesel and electric powered, vacuum primed centrifugal pumps.

GE offers Witness: GE Aeroderivative and Package Services has introduced GE Virtual Test Cell Witness, a system designed to allow customers to view live operating data via the web from gas turbines being tested at a GE test cell facility.

Huadian adds Shandong: Chinese state-owned power generating group China Huadian Corp. has taken over Shandong International Power Development Co. as part of the country’s power reforms approved last October. The reforms will see the sector split into five generating companies and two transmission firms.

Masonic alliance: International specialist law firm Masons has formed an alliance with the Spanish law firm Buxeda Menchén which will be known as Masons Buxeda Menchén. The alliance will initially focus on advising clients on energy and infrastructure projects.

Quantum buys Thermoelectric: Canada’s Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide Inc. has agreed to acquire Calgary’s Global Thermoelectric Inc., a maker of fuel cells and power generators, in a stock swap valued at $75m.

Ukraine seeks Vietnam JV: The prospect of joint ventures to build and develop energy companies in Vietnam was discussed at a recent meeting between Ukraine and Vietnamese trade officials. Further Ukrainian involvement in Vietnam’s hydroelectric industry was also considered.

Siemens buys Alstom’s industrial turbines business

Siemens Power Generation Group (SPG) has agreed to acquire the industrial turbines business of Alstom in two transactions with a total value of g1.1bn ($1.2bn). The sale is part of a restructuring and debt reduction programme which has also seen Alstom put up for sale its Transmission and Distribution division.

In the first transaction SPG will take over the small (up to 15 MW) gas turbine business, with the second transaction covering the medium-sized (up to 50 MW) gas and steam turbine business. Completion of the deal is subject to agreement by the relevant merger control authorities.

“Following the successful integration of Westinghouse and Demag Delaval, the acquisition of Alstom’s business is a very important step in strengthening our product line,” said Klaus Voges, president of SPG.

Patrick Kron, chairman and CEO of Alstom, said, “These transactions constitute a key milestone in our action plan to strengthen our financial base.”

Duke to sell French plant

Duke Energy International, part of America’s Duke Energy, is to sell its French power station, Compagnie Thermique du Rouvray (CTR), which it bought last September. The company said that while it was pleased with the plant’s performance, it no longer fitted with its strategy in Europe.

Duke said that it was not looking to build a power generation portfolio in Europe and wanted to focus on its Dutch gas supply business. Duke closed its power trading activities in Europe earlier this year. Duke said that it was part way through the sale process of the 103 MW CHP plant which supplies power to Electricité de France and steam to a local paper and board manufacturer.

Aquila agrees to sell Australian assets

Aquila Inc. has reached an agreement to sell its Australian interests for approximately $589m with AlintaGas and AMP Henderson replacing Aquila as the key investor in the assets. Aquila will apply the proceeds to reducing loan obligations under its restructuring plan. “The ultimate sale of our Australian properties will be another significant step in our plan to enhance our balance sheet and return our focus to operating highly efficient electric and natural gas utilities in North America,” said Keith Stamm, Aquila CEO.

Aquila’s interests in Multinet Gas, AMP Henderson and AlintaGas are to be sold to a consortium representing AlintaGas, AMP Henderson and their affiliates. Western Australia-based utility AlintaGas said it will operate and manage all network assets of United Energy Limited, in which Aquila had an interest, Multinet and distribution business, AlintaGas Networks, as part of a deal which sees it sell down 25 per cent of its AlintaGas Networks into a new diversified energy fund managed by AMP Henderson.

Both AlintaGas and Henderson will also bid A$3.15 ($1.94) per share in cash for the 43 per cent public stake in United Energy Limited. Analysts said that the move was positive for AlintaGas, as it would move the company towards becoming a substantial energy market player on an economically attractive basis.

Technology rights acquired by Wood

Wood Group has acquired the exclusive rights to the industrial gas turbine control technology of VT Controls Inc. through its Turbine Control Services business. This includes the “Unigov” Universal Governor software, used in control systems for power generation and other applications.

Developed for the Digicon proprietary control platform, Unigov is used across a range of PLC hardware platforms. Wood Group believes it to be the future of modern “open architecture” control solutions.

GE Wind Energy launches new 2 MW wind turbine range

GE Wind Energy is to add three new models to its family of wind turbines, each in the

2 MW range. The 2.x series will include 2.3, 2.5 and 2.7 MW machines designed for a wide range of onshore applications. GE Wind Energy already offers a 900 kW and 1.5 MW as well as the new 3.6 MW unit for offshore applications.

“The new 2.x wind turbines will draw heavily on the experience we have gained from our installed base of 5600 wind turbines worldwide,” said Steve Zwolinski, president of GE Wind Energy, a unit of GE Power Systems.

The three new machines are especially suited for locations where land space is limited and can be used onshore with conditions ranging from very strong winds like those found in the UK and Ireland to low wind like those found at inland sites in Germany. The prototype 2.x machine is scheduled to be erected in late 2003 with commercial production expected between 2004 and 2005.