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Wed 30 Jul 2008 03:33 PM

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General Electric bags $500mn UAE smelter deal

General Electric energy unit wins contract to supply equipment for UAE aluminium smelter.

US conglomerate General Electricsaid on Wednesday its energy unit had won a contract worth more than $500 million to supply equipment to power an aluminium smelter in Abu Dhabi.

Emirates Aluminium is building a $5 billion smelter with target output capacity of 1.4 million tonnes of aluminium per year, which will make it one of the largest in the world.

The plant will use natural gas as feedstock to provide more than 2,000 megawatts of electricity in the first phase, which will take aluminium output capacity to 700,000 tonnes per year, GE Energy said in a statement.

"The Middle East is one of the most important growth areas for GE Energy in the world today," Joseph Anis, GE Energy's regional chief executive, said in the statement.

GE has announced more than $4 billion in projects in the region in less than two years, he said.

Last week, GE and Abu Dhabi investment agency Mubadala Development Co said they entered into an $8 billion joint venture that would focus on sectors including commercial finance, clean energy and water in the Middle East and Africa.

Oil producing countries in the Middle East are building a string of heavy industry plants as they look to diversify their economies away from oil export revenues. But rapid economic growth is straining gas supplies, raising doubts about the viability of some of the more energy-intensive projects.

Rio Tinto said last week it had puts its plans for an aluminium smelter in Abu Dhabi on hold pending a review by the Abu Dhabi government of its energy requirements. (Reuters)

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