BOSTON (Reuters) – General Electric Co. said on Wednesday it had received orders for $1 billion in power-generation and water-processing projects in Saudi Arabia, which a GE official described as the company’s fastest-growing power-generation market outside the United States and Western Europe.
The world’s second-largest company by market value said it would sell electricity-generating turbines to power a new Marafiq power generation and water desalination plant in Jubail Industrial City.
GE said it also would help build a power plant in Riyadh with Saudi Electricity Co., a Saudi state-controlled company that is the region’s largest utility by market value.
Saudi Arabia said in December that it would nearly double its output of electricity to 67,000 megawatts of capacity within six years. Heavy reliance on air-conditioning in the desert country has stressed the electric grid, and Saudi Electricity in August was forced to ration electricity in parts of the country for two weeks.
Saudi Electricity earlier this month said it would invest about $4.21 billion on power facilities this year to boost capacity.
“If you look at our Middle East market and Saudi Arabia right now, from a power-generation standpoint, it’s quickly emerging to be, outside of the U.S. and Western Europe, definitely our highest growth market in the world right now,” said Steve Bolze, president of power generation at GE Energy, in a phone interview.
Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE will be providing 24 gas and steam turbines to the projects.
The orders follow an agreement reached in December for GE to sell Saudi Electricity $950 million worth of gas turbines for power plants.
GE Energy said it expected to ship the equipment covered by these orders starting in the second half of 2007 through early 2009. This year, the GE unit expects to ship about 164 gas turbines, up from 134 last year, Bolze said.
GE’s energy unit last year contributed $19.13 billion of the conglomerate’s $159.22 billion in total 2006 revenue.