Adipec 2013 Preview

Qasem ... major player

Qasem ... major player

GE boosting local capabilities, expanding in Middle East

In the region GE has 4,500 employees with 1,600 in the oil and gas sector alone. Its footprint goes all the way from Pakistan to Algeria and Turkey, RAMI QASEM, CEO, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, GE Oil & Gas, tells K S SREEKUMAR

TOPPING a year of impressive growth in the Middle East, GE (General Electric) Oil & Gas plans to keep on investing and setting up new technology centres and manufacturing facilities in the region, says Rami Qasem CEO, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, GE Oil & Gas.

“We had a year of solid growth in terms of business compared to last year. So far, it has been an attractive year also for building our local capabilities,” Qasem tells OGN in an interview.

As a follow-up to the GE chairman, Jeffrey Immelt’s visit recently to Saudia Arabia, GE plans to set up a manufacturing centre in Jubail or a regional repair centre catering to the whole of the region, he says.

“Also, Iraq is a country which requires a lot of focus. We have already built our local capabilities in Basra and are in talks about partnering with the government to introduce our capabilities in the power sector of that country,” he says.

GE has been in the region for the last 80 years and has earned the trust of oil and gas companies – both NOCs and IOCs – by providing them with technology and services. “Primarily our aim is to partner with our customers who are looking for innovations and new ideas,” he says.

In the region, GE has 4,500 employees with 1,600 of them in the oil and gas sector alone. The global giant’s footprint goes all the way from Pakistan  to Algeria and Turkey.

“We have more than 20 facilities in 11 countries. By next year, we will be setting up more research centres and new facilities.”

Elaborating, Qasem says when Qatar decided to be major player in the gas market, GE technology was able to provide them everything they needed to build the biggest LNG trains in the world, which is becoming industry standard.

One of the fastest growing centres for the oil and gas industry, Qatar is the chosen home for GE Oil & Gas’ 4,000 sq m service centre. It is a Centre of Excellence for GE Oil & Gas in the Middle East and represents a significant step for GE’s localisation strategy in the region. The service centre will support both emerging markets and the fast growing refinery industry in the region, with application expertise ranging from petrochemical services to liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In Saudi Arabia, where Saudi Aramco built the Shaybah project, GE technology was able to provide them with all the turbines, compressors and services they required, he says.

Also in Saudi Arabia, GE and KFUPM (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals) recently inaugurated the GE Innovation, Development and Research Centre at Dhahran Techno-Valley, which aims at finding technical solutions in multiple sectors such as, providing more efficient energy sources and developing economical solutions for the health care.

The GE Innovation Centre is the fruit of the strategic collaboration agreement signed by GE with KFUPM in 2011. This agreement aims at establishing an office and an integrated technical centre to be developed by GE at Dhahran Techno-Valley. It is also considered as the preliminary stage of huge investments, valued at $1 billion.

One of the most important components of the Centre is the innovation labs which include a number of labs specialised in development and research processes related to health care and the energy sectors.

Qasem says the era of having all one’s resources in one city and serving the globe is over. The current era is about localising. “Localising is the current watchword. We started the journey of localisation in the Middle East some 30 years ago. We have now reached the next phase of the journey – that is transferring technology. This includes manufacturing,” he says.

Earlier, it was challenge for international companies to set up localised business in the region. “But, countries such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain have made changes to their regulations enabling us to develop local capabilities,” he says.

Among the major projects taken up by GE this year is the one in which the company is the technology provider for the Adnoc group. The project aims to improve production at Zadco, an Adnoc subsidiary, by a million barrels, he explains.

The new focus areas for GE are enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in a cost effective way and tapping shale gas. “In our times at least gas will remain a major player. So, we have to find means to generate gas abundantly,” he says.

In the renewable energy sector, the company has wind energy facilties in Turkey. It is also partnering with Masdar in the UAE to set up innovation centres focusing on renewables, he adds.

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