GE Opens the Largest Maintenance and Training Center for the Australian Oil and Gas Industry

06 December 2011

GE Oil & Gas today opened its $100 million technology and learning complex in Jandakot, Western Australia, to support the development of skills for the oil and gas sector and provide its first in-country support and maintenance center for the upstream industry.

The biggest complex of its kind in Australia, the scope of the project has grown from $80 million to $100 million in response to overwhelming feedback and demand from the oil and gas industry in Western Australia. GE Oil & Gas expects to deliver 4,000 training days in 2012 and has already begun to service its major equipment in country.

This will be the first GE facility to offer the full range of technical training required to meet both the demands of the resources boom in Australia and the need to increase productivity in the sectors facing this rising demand.

The service center will be supporting, among others, key equipment employed in liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains that compress and refrigerate natural gas transforming it into liquid so that it can be transported. Every day an LNG train is out of action can cost up to $15 million, so maximizing uptime and optimizing maintenance schedules plays a crucial role in productivity. GE’s Jandakot center will provide in-country maintenance, reducing downtime while parts are serviced overseas and creating a secondary service industry in the region.

Steve Sargent, CEO and president, GE Australia and New Zealand said, "Global energy demand is expected to grow 35 percent over the next 25 years and by 2020 Australia will be the biggest exporter of LNG in the world. Ensuring that Australia benefits fully from this boom requires us to develop skills and technical capabilities in country. This investment ensures that we are not only able to support our customers more effectively but we also support Australia’s long-term benefits.”

Chevron Australia, which operates the Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, is one of the key energy companies set to train hundreds of its Perth engineering and technical staff at the GE facility.

"Chevron had so far invested $12 million on recruiting and training 40 apprentices and trainees in preparation for when the Gorgon LNG and domestic gas plant became operational,” said Chevron Australia Managing Director Roy Krzywosinski "Chevron also employs 120 university graduates across a range of oil and gas related fields. These are young people who are getting valuable experience on the front line and will be the leaders of the future.”

Skills shortages are set to be one of the main inhibiters to economic growth in the resources sector. The latest Clarius Skills Index, which measures the supply and demand for skilled labor across 20 job categories, recently found that engineering firms are amongst those expected to be hardest hit by a looming skills shortage in the Australian workforce over the next decade.

As part of the skills deliver, GE Oil & Gas has partnered with Chevron, Woodside, ConocoPhilips, Manufacturing Skills Australia, Navitas, ACEPT (Australian Center for Energy and Process Training) and Apprenticeships Australia to create a Community of Technical Best Practice. This initiative has received funding and support from the Australian Federal Government in recognition of the impact it will have on the skills shortage in the booming resources market. The federal government and the Critical Skills Investment Fund have invested AUD$2.67 million towards the training center to build the community of technical best practice.

It will provide the necessary skills, training and on-ground customer support for the oil and gas, energy, mining, healthcare, transportation and water industries helping to drive synergies across all of GE’s business units.

GE Oil & Gas has operated in Australia for more than 40 years with the supply of the first LNG train in the Northwest Shelf operated by Woodside. Operations today involve engagement with some of the major resources projects spanning from WA to QLD.

Australia needs cleaner technology and renewable energy solutions—technologies to make processes more energy efficient; transportation to meet the growing demands of moving people and products; innovations that drive productivity. GE is developing and delivering these solutions today.