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Tech major ready for growth

Despite hydrocarbon price turbulence, the MENA and Turkey region continue to provide opportunities

The low oil price environment is a given, but technology providers are still securing contracts from progressive operators.

At the end of September, GE Oil & Gas signed a landmark long-term, multi-million-dollar contract with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) for the provision of progressive cavity pump equipment (PCP) and related services commencing in the third quarter of 2016.

President & CEO of GE Oil & Gas, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, Rami Qasem, attending the WEC, believes his company's twin offering-the industrial and the digital-stands it in good stead in the broader region.

"In Oman with PDO we manage 70% of the Nimr oil field so we have to make sure we give them very efficient and cost-effective operations," says Qasem.

Qasem sees the WEC agenda as chiming with the broader sentiment.

"If you look at everything that conference is focused on, about security, about having sustainability of the whole oil and gas and power, about efficiency and reducing emission, these are at the core of what we do as a company," he says. "Everyone is talking about how can have more alignment in terms of having more environmentally friendly technology and helping to have lower costs."

GE Oil & Gas has enjoyed solid growth from the wider Middle East region. "We all see various challenges, we have very good growth in this part of the world. About 20% of our global oil and gas revenue comes from this region so it's very important for us," says Qasem.

He points out that the localisation strategy doesn't change with the price of oil. "Because we are committed to make things whether services or manufacturing, partnering and creating jobs, and developing local talent. Today, industry is a challenge with the oil price but we cannot - as GE and in partnership with NOCs - divert from our localisation effort of developing local talent for the future."

GE's job is getting more complex, with Middle Eastern resources maturing and becoming more difficult to extract.

"We know it's going to be harsher deeper," says Qasem. "But the difference today is that with the partnership between various industries-and GE is a role model in this-where you bring in what you use in the aircraft engine and you apply it at 2,000 metres below sea-level in order to have better assessments of the conditions."

The future raises challenges that require more innovative R&D. That also means more localisation, as Qasem points out. "In Saudi Arabia we have in our plan to have 200 researchers from Dammam and Dhahran, in partnership with Saudi Aramco and with their universities," he says. "There are already a few patents that have been registered by our Saudi staff-both male and female. For me that is where the future really lies and we have put the weight of the company behind it."

GE Oil and Gas operates a research facility out of the Eastern Province city of Dhahran, and also has one in the UAE's Masdar City, focused on renewables.

Qasem detects a new feeling of openness in the kingdom. "Today with Vision 2030 there is more transparency, more trust and more openness from companies like Saudi Aramco. Everyone can assess how to become more cost effective if they follow the strategy laid down."

Elsewhere in the region, GE Oil & Gas is focusing strongly on Egypt, with its offshore opportunities. East Africa is another area being monitored.

As to the future, Qasem likes to take a long-term perspective.

"Everyone is talking about the recovery and everyone is talking about price. As far as we are concerned as a company we're focused on having the right technology and solutions to give to our customers," he says. "It's like having a flu and imagining your recovery. Is it going to be tomorrow, 2017, or will it be the day after tomorrow, 2018? Either way it's going to happen and we just have to maintain the focus."

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