Much of the developed world still feels the aftershocks of the great recession. Not Australia. The country motored through the downturn and its economy is set to grow steady in the years ahead. The expansion has been anchored by the country’s energy and mining industries and its vast lode of coal, oil, gas and other natural resources.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that global energy consumption will grow by 45 percent over the next 25 years. Australia is already the world’s largest coal exporter and will become the top source of liquefied natural gas (LNG) within the next decade.
But this bounty also creates a challenge. For example, because Australia is a continent surrounded by two oceans, all gas must be exported on ships in liquefied form, which means building new gas export infrastructure to the tune of around $200 billion.
GE Energy’s oil and gas business, which has been working in the down under for over 40 years, is helping to ease the growing pains. For example, all of Australia’s LNG production facilities use equipment manufactured by GE. The company has won over $1.23 billion in work with Chevron, which is building an LNG terminal at the Gorgon natural gas field off the north-west coast of Australia. GE will supply Chevron with heavy-duty gas turbines and subsea technology such as wellheads, pipeline termination systems and other equipment.
This week, GE Oil & Gas opened a $100 million technology and training complex in Jandakot, in the resource-rich state of Western Australia. The center, which is largest of its kind in the country, will provide technical training for GE staff as well as our customers in the local oil, gas and mining industries.
At Jandakot, GE will teach critical skills to workers who are vital to keeping gas production online, reducing downtime, and improving maintenance and productivity. One example is GE’s “refrigerant compression trains,” a series of turbines and compressors that chill natural gas to minus 160 degrees Celsius, at which temperature it turns into a liquid. Every day that an LNG compression train is out of action can cost the operator up to $15 million.
The larger Australian footprint is also leaving marks in the US. Some of GE gas turbines used at Gorgon project will be manufactured at GE’s plant in Greenville, South Carolina. GE’s Australian operations have added $1 billion to GE Energy’s 2011 revenues.