Manufacturing the Best ‘Trains’ to Fuel Saudi’s Economic Development
Trains are well known for transporting resources, materials and goods to keep an economy running. However, it’s no exaggeration to say that the six “trains” that just rolled off an assembly line in Dammam will play an even more significant role in Saudi Arabia’s economic development.
They don’t run on rails, but these high-efficiency GE gas compression trains are at the heart of Saudi Aramco’s Master Gas System Expansion Program. This multi-phase project is expanding the supply of domestic natural gas required to meet the energy demands of the Kingdom’s growing industrial and power sectors.
Equally strategic, these are the first six of 18 such trains that are being manufactured by GE at the GE Manufacturing Technology Center (GEMTEC) plant in Dammam – the first time that high-efficiency compression trains have been manufactured in Saudi Arabia.
Today, Saudi nationals make up 70% of GEMTEC’s workforce, highlighting GE’s efforts to drive localization in country. Additionally GE Oil and Gas has qualified a network of Saudi-based suppliers to serve Saudi and global GE markets as well as support production at the facility.
This is also a demonstration of GE’s commitment to Saudi Aramco’s In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) Program which aims to localize 70% of Saudi Aramco spending in the Kingdom by 2021, drive domestic value creation and maximize long-term economic growth and diversification to support a rapidly changing Saudi economy.
In 2016, six more trains, each consisting of an aeroderivative gas turbine driving a centrifugal
compressor will be manufactured at GEMTEC as part of Phase II of the Master Gas program. By incorporating these trains into the existing gas distribution network, Saudi Aramco can move more gas through the system, thereby ensuring that industrial gas users can access they fuel they need to power their facilities.
The gas compression train production reflects the IKTVA program’s three objectives: to localize, to export energy-related goods and services, and to boost Saudization. The localization aspect of the program reflects how the aero-derivative gas turbine components have been designed, taking into account many years of GE field experience dealing with heavy-duty gas turbines and axial/centrifugal compression, including in Saudi Arabia. The aerodynamic blading was planned with the main objective of obtaining high efficiency at reduced speeds.
Additionally, by 2021, Saudi Aramco hopes to achieve a 70% localization of spending, creating a business environment that will provide 500,000 new jobs and enable 30% export of Saudi energy-sector products.
The 17,500 square meter first phase of GEMTEC was inaugurated in 2012 . Phase 2 will increase the facility by 9,000 square meters for additional manufacturing including GE’s HA gas turbine – the world’s largest and most efficient gas turbine.
GE has been supporting Saudi Arabia’s oil and gas sector for more than 80 years, and today, GE’s Saudi workforce of more than 1,600 employees is the largest in the Middle East and drives its operations in the aviation, healthcare, oil and gas, power and water and transportation sectors.