Wood Group GTS Powers Fast Track Plant Operation
The ability to design, deliver and commission a new power plant within six months gives Wood Group GTS a global lead.
The East Texas Electric Cooperative, operated by Wood Group GTS, commenced commercial operations in January 2010 at their facility in Hardin, TX.
The ability to fast track the delivery of a power generation plant within six months, from identifying the client's need to completion of commissioning, is almost unheard of within the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) business. But that's exactly what Wood Group GTS has been able to achieve for clients.
Back in 2003, GTS launched its presence in the fast-track power market as a response to customers, such as Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, who wanted to procure power plant equipment and then asked GTS to install it on their behalf. Although GTS initially acted as an equipment supplier, it wasn't long before the business was tackling bigger, more complex projects involving the full turnkey service. "In 2006 we were asked by one of the USA's biggest power utilities, American Electric Power (AEP), to remedy an emergency need to install 640MW of peaking power in their south western service territories," says Mark Dobler, president of GTS' EPC business.
In December 2006 GTS was contracted to provide eight generation units, with the proviso of delivering by the summer of 2007. "This six-month turnaround involved us purchasing a power generation facility in Mississippi, which we dismantled, rehabilitated, transported, installed and commissioned in Arkansas, all within 169 days."
Utilising GTS' special ability to source equipment and refurbish and install with performance guarantees, AEP was able to see a 30 per cent cost saving on top of a 50 per cent improvement on delivery time, compared to an EPC contract using new, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) generators.
"Nearly all other EPC providers use new equipment purchased from the OEMs. What we do differently in fast-track projects is to bring in the equipment ourselves. This can be new, surplus equipment or in many cases it's used and we rehabilitate and relocate it where required. This eliminates long delivery times and makes us cost-efficient and very responsive," adds Mark.
Since the AEP development, which Mark describes as a 'marquee project' for the business, it has worked alongside other Wood Group companies, such as Mustang, to broaden its EPC offering. "We have a permanent workforce in Houston and can ramp up or down depending on client needs by utilising skilled personnel from across Wood Group. GTS has also acquired a new business, Shanahan Engineering, which gives us a geographic footprint in the eastern hemisphere and a closer working relationship with OEMs, which is important for projects where new equipment is required."
According to Mick Conway, marketing director, Wood Group GTS, the acquisition of Dublin-based Shanahan Engineering, which has offices in Italy, Japan, Turkey and the UK, was a key strategy to expand and enhance the EPC capability across the globe. "It reinforces our position as a solutions-orientated provider of power plant EPC services and enhances our ability to support clients' new power plant requirements internationally. Longer term, demand for fast-track natural gas-fired generated power is expected to increase and we see this leading to strong demand for our services," says Mick.
Wood Group GTS provided engineering, construction, procurement and operating services for the East Texas Electric Cooperative facility in San Jacinto, Texas.
Indeed, Mark Dobler says the addition of Shanahan Engineering underlines his view that GTS is an "EPC specialist with a difference". "When the client approaches us for EPC they likely have a location and a set of size requirements in terms of megawatts and the type of fuel that's available. Then it's over to our team to deliver a design for their approval, a detailed contract outlining scope, terms and price, then a responsibility to execute the work. At the end of the project we'll hand over a set of keys to an operating facility."
And the offering doesn't end there. "By utilising the skills across the rest of GTS, we have an intimate knowledge of the maintenance of such facilities and can offer after-market care, from operations and maintenance through to decommissioning. As a true life-of-project service provider, GTS can look after the entire life cycle of power plants," says Mark.
Such an example is the six-year O&M contract by East Texas Electric Cooperative (ETEC) for its San Jacinto & Hardin generating facilities. The contract followed a turnkey project in 2008 for the construction and commissioning of both generating facilities.
And utilising leading-edge technology, the alliance with Shanahan is providing opportunities for closer working partnerships with OEMs, such as Mitsubishi, General Electric and Alstom. "We have a much more collaborative relationship with the OEMs than we had before," confirms Mark. "Many of the projects we're participating in involve the latest gas turbine technology and the most efficient operational technology. We're working hand-in-hand to deliver that with the manufacturers," he adds.
Now fully integrated, the first successful joint project with Shanahan and GTS has been the EPC award of a combined cycle power plant in California. According to Mark, this will be the second-largest project undertaken by GTS and the first combined-cycle EPC project. "Preliminary engineering commenced in October 2009 and we're delighted to now have the resources of our Shanahan Engineering colleagues, who have provided us with very good data for the scope of the project in terms of construction management and labour elements."
Elsewhere, the picture is just as healthy, with GTS growing its presence in the rest of the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. Mark concludes: "I believe as the global economy recovers and an increase of power generation is required, there will be a robust market opportunity for gas-fired generation. And now that we have a more integrated structure that fits well with GTS' entire market offering, we're able to offer our services to everyone, whether they're located in New Zealand, Europe, the USA or anywhere else."