Bhel, GE to build turbine workshop

Bhel, GE to build turbine workshop

New Delhi: To allay fears arising from turbine problems at NTPC Ltd’s joint venture Dabhol plant, Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) will set up a workshop at Hyderabad to repair and maintain 9 FA class turbines in collaboration with General Electric Co. (GE).

The Union government had earlier said four of the six 9 FA class turbines that GE supplied to the 2,150MW power project of NPTC’s joint venture Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt. Ltd in Maharashtra were defective and broke down frequently.

“GE will help us in setting up this workshop as they are our collaborators for gas turbines in India. We will own this workshop," said K. Ravi Kumar, Bhel chairman and managing director.

GE provides the state-owned Bhel, India’s largest power generation equipment manufacturer, with gas turbines and has transferred some technology as well to the firm. Bhel pays GE royalty for technology. It also has an equal joint venture with GE called Bhel-GE Gas Turbine Services Pvt. Ltd, which provides repair and maintenance services for GE’s gas turbines.

“The 9FA-class turbines are new machines and require deeper cryogenic pits. The new workshop will be set up in Hyderabad at an investment of around Rs50 crore and will repair and maintain turbines of 9FA-class and above," Kumar said.

A GE spokesperson referred Mint to Bhel when asked for comment.

Currently, every time a turbine needs to be repaired or maintained, it has to be sent to GE workshops in Singapore or London.

Mint had reported on 11 March 2008, about the government’s threat to ban GE from all future public sector power projects and review its alliance with the state-owned Bhel.

“It is an additional guarantee which Bhel is bringing to its equipment supply proposition," said Madanagopal R., an equity research analyst at Mumbai-based Centrum Broking Pvt. Ltd.

“Bhel, GE should have proper repair facilities within the country to save time and costs," power secretary H.S. Brahma said during a recent meeting over the development of the 726MW ONGC Tripura Power Co. Ltd’s project. Bhel and NTPC were part of the meeting.

At the meeting, Tripura chief secretary Sudhir Sharma had expressed concerns over the performance of GE’s 9FA machines, referring to the problems faced at Dabhol. The Tripura project has been awarded to Bhel.

Kumar of Bhel had assured the state government that the machines supplied by GE for the Dabhol plant were among the earliest and the defects have since been identified and rectified in subsequent machines.

Mint had reported on 9 January that GE, which has been sparring with Ratnagiri over the turbines, has admitted that the equipment supplied to the Dabhol project is different from at least a thousand such units sold in other markets.