(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia's plans to keep increasing power generation to meet the growing needs of industrial, commercial and domestic consumers have received a further boost with GE reiterating its support to all such projects.
In fact, GE is keen to increase its support for Saudi Arabia's efforts to boost the share of renewable energy in electricity generation, according to the company's senior officials.
The global industrial giant is also investing millions of dollars to support the company's fleet to manufacturing, they said.
"GE has a diversity of solutions between wind, solar, nuclear and gas to help Saudi Arabia to reach its goals," said Mohammed S. Mohaisen, CEO, power generation, products and services sales, Middle East, GE.
The comments from the CEO and Mazin Ali Albahkali, general manager, power generation, GE Saudi Arabia, came as the Kingdom pushes ahead with several initiatives and projects through different stakeholders to add renewables into its energy mix.
"Saudi Arabia represents to us one of the largest markets in the region and globally," Mohaisen told Arab News in an exclusive interview. GE has been a major player in Saudi Arabia for many decades, he said.
"We have 800 employees in the power and water business across the region to support the Saudi based fleet operating out of the three cities - Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah technically, commercially and from an engineering standpoint," said Mohaisen.
"GE supports the Kingdom's new developmental strategy, especially in localization, creating jobs for Saudi nationals and driving the economic diversification, through the company's various partnerships in key growth sectors," he added.
"From supporting Saudi Arabia's first oil discovery expedition in 1942 with turbo machinery equipment for its first refinery, to delivering over 500 gas and steam turbines for power generation, which generate more than 50 percent of the generated capacity in the Kingdom, GE has remained a key contributor to the Saudi energy industry," said the CEO.
Mazin Ali Albahkali, general manager, power generation, GE Saudi Arabia, outlined plans to train Saudi youth in technology-related fields in various GE facilities in the Kingdom.
The GE Manufacturing Technology Center (GEMTEC) was launched in the Eastern province in 2011 to provide quality energy services to its customers in Saudi Arabia and the region, which celebrated its first year of operations in June 2012.
"GEMTEC is our single largest repair and manufacturing facility in the world outside the US based out of Dammam and at this facility today we have 500 employees. We have already reached 74 percent of Saudization target and that is record to us," Albahkali added.
"Our goal is to ramp up 1,000 employees over three years by 2015," he added.
sau"This is an investment of 350 million in the Kingdom in manufacturing to support our fleet," he said, adding that it is part of the 1 billion investment GE announced last year.
He said the new initiative demonstrates GE's firm commitment to the Saudi government's vision to create more jobs for its youth, especially in technology-related and energy sectors.
Albahkali said GE's power generation technology had been installed at nearly 40 Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) sites.
GE is partner on the expansion of Saudi Aramco's Shaybah gas-oil processing facilities and supplies award-winning technology solutions for the Marafiq Independent Water and Power Plant in Jubail Industrial City. It also supports the oil and gas industry with technology for drilling and production, LNG, pipelines and storage to industrial power generation, refining and petrochemicals.
Mohaisen forecasts 8 percent growth per annum on the power consumption side in Saudi Arabia. There is a need for more capacity, he said. Between today and 2030, Saudi Arabia has announced to double its generated capacity and reach 80 GW by 2020.
By 2030, they are going to double the capacity of today. Today, the capacity is around 55 GW, he said.
Saudi Arabia is looking at the diversity of solutions and looking at building these new plants with more efficient technology. "We believe the key challenge in achieving the government goal is to drive energy consumption in more efficient way," he added.
He, however, said: "More efficient ways come from the supply side and demand side. We play a big role on the supply side by providing state-of-the-art technology with high efficiency. We also keep investing in developing upgrades in order to make sure that our existing fleet in the Kingdom has the latest technology improving on efficiency, reliabity and availability of the plants. "That's how we align ourselves with the goals and objectives of the country."
Referring to GE's participation in the Saudi Water & Power Forum, Mohaisen said: "We make sure that we had strong participation every year where we interact with our partners and customers in Saudi Arabia."
He said: "We take chances and advantages of summits like this (Jeddah water) forum to address and discuss the dynamics and key challenges of Saudi Arabia through the energy players in the Kingdom. We always thought of solutions to those issues."
GE has diversity of businesses such as health care, oil gas, power and water, aviation and others.
"So, we play a key role in all these sectors across the Kingdom," he added. GE Healthcare works closely with key government and private partners, including the Ministry of Health to bring about transformational change in health care delivery.
GE is setting up a new Healthcare Skills Training Institute in partnership with King Fahd Medical City, which will promote research and development, as well as provide clinical, technical and leadership training to strengthen the capabilities of Saudi health care professionals.
GE has signed a nearly 700 million contract with Saudi Electricity Company to bring additional F-class combined cycle gas turbines, and associated equipment and services to the Kingdom. GE's technology will support SEC's large, combined cycle power plants to generate more than 3.8 GW of power and will provide significant fuel savings and lower emissions to meet today's growing energy needs of the Kingdom.
GE's gas turbine technology previously has been chosen for SEC's PP9, PP10, PP11 and PP12 power plants. PP13 and PP14 will feature 12 GE 7F-5 gas turbines, four GE steam turbines and 16 generators, and are a further expansion of GE's 7F-5 gas turbine technology used in the PP12 project in the country. PP13 will be located next to PP11 and PP12 at Dhurma, and PP14 will be located next to PP10, south of Riyadh.
GE is also focusing on promoting Saudi human capital development and job creation for skilled youth and professionals.
Albahkali said: "One of the central pillars of GE's long-term operations in the Kingdom, over the past eight decades, has been to promote a culture of localization and human capital development. We believe that empowering local youth and professionals for business leadership positions is of strategic importance for the tremendous value it brings in the long-run."
He added: "Committed to strengthening our Saudi work force and promoting their all-round skills, we have invested significantly in training and development initiatives. Alongside, our investments in a variety of sectors such as energy, oil and gas, health care, aviation and transportation are also aimed at creating new jobs, supporting small and medium enterprises and promoting entrepreneurship."
GE unveiled a 50,000 sq m advanced training facility, the GE Technical Academy in Jubail, developed in cooperation with the Saudi Technical and Vocational Training Corporation and supported by the Human Resources Development Fund.
The new initiative demonstrates GE's firm commitment to the Saudi government's vision to create more jobs for its youth, especially in technology-related and energy sectors.
"Today, we have many agreements with universities and other entities that we train and graduate those students with certain specific programs. We also offer sponsorship. We at GE sponsor students who are still studying. We hire them immediately after their graduation," Albahkali said.
"We have a program where we select people from universities and send them abroad, some to Europe and the US to be trained in our programs. Once they are graduated from this program, they are ready to join GE," he said.
Asked about GE's involvement in the Kingdom's nuclear energy, Mohaisen said: "Nuclear energy is a government-to-government-relationship, and certain elements and procedures have to be fulfilled to meet the international requirements and standards. Once these are signed, GE will definitely show strong interest in supporting Saudi Arabia on their peaceful nuclear power plants moving forward." He said: "We have technology, capability and capacity to do and build nuclear power plants and this is no different from others anywhere in the world."
In January 2013, he said GE unveiled its new Saudi GE Innovation Center aimed at fostering home-grown innovation.
"The 2,200 sq m Saudi GE Innovation Center in Dhahran Techno-Valley will work closely with customers on addressing the Kingdom's priorities in creating more energy efficient and affordable health care solutions," Albahkali said.