U.S. multinational GE has unveiled its first Latin American oil & gas research center on the Ilha do Bom Jesus peninsula near the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Built at the cost of US$500 million, the R&D center will focus on inventing better technologies for the $1.2 trillion offshore oil & gas industry. GE will initially hire about 200 researchers but will double the headcount over the next few years, turning the center into a “global learning facility.”
The R&D center, according to GE Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt, will allow the company to “innovate locally for our customers in Latin America and then export those innovations to the world.” This is GE’s ninth research center globally and one of five outside the United States.
“The Brazil Technology Center is a place where we can work closely with local customers and universities in the region and harness the full power of our global research network to drive innovation in ways no one else can,” said Mark Little, senior vice president and chief technology officer, GE Global Research.
The U.S. firm said it is confident of picking up talented Brazilians for its research center, saying that more than 100 of its researchers have already been working for its clients for the past two years.
GE, which employs more than 8,800 people in Brazil, said it will work with Petrobras and the BG Group on research projects to develop the technologies that will ease the task of moving production from the platform to the seabed.
Currently, offshore oil and gas processing happens on platforms on the ocean surface. These are often located miles from the nearest wellheads, which are found at the bottom of the ocean. However, placing power and processing equipment next to the wellhead on the seafloor makes the job of extracting the oil and pumping it to the surface easier.