By Andrew White
EXCLUSIVE: General Electric holds discussions over country's nuclear programme.
General Electric, the world’s biggest manufacturer of power plant equipment, is in talks with the UAE government over its proposed nuclear energy programme.
“We are talking to the UAE government about what we can do with nuclear energy. We certainly have engaged in discussions,” Nabil Habayeb, president and CEO, Middle East and Africa, for General Electric, told Arabian Business in an interview.
In March the UAE announced it had created an agency to establish a nuclear power industry, and would seek international investors. The UAE has no plans to enrich uranium and will instead depend on outside sources to provide it with nuclear fuel, according to the government.
The agency will have a $100 million budget to manage the nuclear programme. It was reported on August 17 that the UAE had invited companies to bid for a contract to manage its nuclear power programme, and would award the contract by year-end.
Power demand in the UAE is surging as it uses record oil revenue to develop new industries and infrastructure. Abu Dhabi, the biggest of the UAE’s seven emirates, will need to build additional power capacity this year to avoid a blackout in 2012, according to a recent report.
In July GE, seeking higher returns overseas and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co, formed a partnership to invest in emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa, led by an $8bn commercial finance fund.
The Middle East region is one of GE's fastest-growing, providing around $5 billion of its $172.9 billion in sales last year. This marked a 50 percent rise from 2006, driven by water treatment, power generation, oil and gas exploration equipment and jet engines through the GE Infrastructure segment.
Habayeb added that he expected Middle East revenue to rise to around $7.5 billion for 2008 – a leap of 36 percent from 2007.
GE does not break down the revenue for its nuclear operations, a part of the Atlanta-based GE Energy, the world’s biggest provider of gas-fired turbines. However, GE Energy provided $21.8 billion of the parent company’s sales last year.
Trying to sell atomic energy projects to Arab oil producing companies is the strangest thing I have ever heared. First Western countries felt endangered because such countries of the Middle East are in control of energy resources. Their second step was to invest in atomic energy as a replacement. When they discovered how costy it is to run an atomic energy programme is and how difficult to mentain, and all the disadvantages that comes with getting rid of the waste, they turn to Arab countries to buy their losing projects. They want to cover their losses as usual by selling ailed stunts to fArab countries ...It even does not make sense. They want Arab oil producing countries to pay for their failure and doom its economy?