KRASNOYARSK, Russia (Reuters) - The chief executive of Russia’s Inter RAO said on Saturday the energy holding hoped to reach a deal with General Electric Co by October to produce powerful gas turbines in Russia, either as a joint venture or by buying a license from GE.
Russia, which does not currently produce mid- or high-power gas-fired power turbines, recently launched a 1.9 trillion rouble ($29 billion) program to modernize a quarter of its power generation, or 41 gigawatt of coal- and gas-based plants.
It is seen as a rare opportunity for Western producers amid falling global demand for gas turbines in recent years, but Moscow has said investors must only use fully localised — domestically produced — equipment as part of a local content push.
Inter RAO CEO Boris Kovalchuk said the modernization program would open a large market for GE for 10 years.
“We hope to reach all the agreements with them within half a year,” Kovalchuk told reporters during a conference in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk.
A plant jointly owned by Inter RAO, GE and Russian state conglomerate Rostec produces 77-megawatt turbines in Russia’s central region of Yaroslavl.
The ongoing talks between GE and Inter RAO are for the local production of 185-195 megawatt turbines. Inter RAO may purchase Rostec’s stake in the plant as part of the deal with GE, Kovalchuk added.
A joint venture between Siemens and Russian firm Power Machines is already producing turbines in Russia. Siemens, which owns a 65-percent stake in the venture, has pledged to raise the level of localization in the production process.
Russian state-controlled firms — Rostec, Rosnano and Inter RAO — have been trying to create their own gas turbine production but their prototype project failed testing, sources, familiar with the matter, told Reuters a year ago.
Kovalchuk said on Saturday that the project was continuing, and that Inter RAO had passed the second turbine to the project’s operator for improvement.
Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; Writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Helen Popper