INTERVIEW: Downstream GE executives turn focus to ‘Age of Gas’

By Stephany Romanow
Editor

HOUSTON -- At the 43rd annual Turbomachinery and 30th International Pump Users Symposia, Hydrocarbon Processing spoke with Girish Saligram, general manager of GE's downstream products and services business, and Alessandro Bresciani, general manager of sales and marketing for the company's downstream technology solutions group.

GE Oil & Gas has a company-wide refocus on the downstream, the representatives said. The company has moved its leadership of the downstream products and services to Houston. The change places GE in a central location to address the needs of the emerging petrochemical industry now expanding on the US Gulf Coast, according to company officials.

“GE is a leading provider of compression equipment, including turbines, expanders and compressors,” said Saligram. “In addition to being a technology provider, GE is focusing on improving supply chain services for clients.”

“North America is at a unique point in capitalizing on the shale gas phenomena. It is the age of gas,” he added.

Finding new uses for gas has global applications, as demonstrated by GE’s new award from Total. As part of Total’s Antwerp refinery revamp project, GE will provide compression equipment to recover low-value refinery offgas that will be converted to a low-cost petrochemical feedstock. The project will recover valuable hydrocarbons from the refinery offgas that would otherwise be burned as fuel.

The recovered hydrocarbons will be used as feed to Total’s existing naphtha cracker, thus eliminating the need to purchase oil-based naphtha for the cracker.  

“In addition to the petrochemical opportunities, there are equally vital opportunities in small-scale LNG facilities,” said Bresciani. 

The shale gas developments without offtake for the gas are a problem. “GE is focusing on technology to solve these challenges in the shale plays,” said Bresciani. “Natural gas has opportunities in the transportation sector, as demonstrated by the Statoil flare gas solution.”

The Statoil, GE and Ferus Natural Gas Fuels (Ferus) project is an example of GE partnering with operating companies to solve tough environmental problems in the North Dakota Bakken shale plays. Lack of infrastructure hinders offtake of coproduced shale gas.

In a JV with Statoil and Ferus, GE says it is developing an innovative solution to capture flare gas from the wells and then use the gas to power drilling rigs. 

The JV, called Last Mile Fueling Solution (last Mile), utilizes the flare gas to provide a natural gas fueling station that uses GE’s CNG in a box technology. The project provides environmental benefits while providing a transportation fuel and power source. 

“Recovery of flare gas offers benefits to developing nations such Mayalsia, Indonesia and Nigeria, as the developed energy resources,” according to Bresciani.    

Meanwhile, GE‘s high-speed boost compressors will provide benefits in the shale gas transmission and distribution networks. 

“GE will continue technology R&D at the Florence, Italy center. GE is always looking for innovative technology through self-development and acquisitions,” said Saligram.

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