Archives: April 2011

HIGHS AND LOWS

April 28, 2011 6:46 am Published by Leave your thoughts

General Electric Company reported a 6 percent increase in its revenues this quarter from its overall operations compared last year but saw its wind turbine orders, its primary renewable energy product, tumble because of lower turbine prices.The New York-based conglomerate had $38.4 billion in revenues in the first three months of this year and had first quarter operating earnings of $3.6 billion, up 58 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a press release from G.E.

According to a document from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, its energy infrastructure segment contributed $9.45 million in revenues, up 9 percent from last year’s first quarter, and had $1.381 million in profit, a 7 percent decline.

Keith Sherin, G.E.’s chief financial officer, said that renewable energy services and products managed to earn $ 1.1 billion in revenue, up 31 percent from last year.

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“We shipped 366 wind turbines versus 349 last year, but the growth came from more 2.5MW units so we had some mixed impact there,” Mr. Sherin said.

G.E. said it took orders for 327 turbines in the quarter, down from 494 in the first quarter of 2010. Pricing on the orders slid 3 percent, which the company believes decreased GE’s overall industrial segment operating profit margin to 14.3 percent from 15.4 percent a year earlier.

However, Mr. Sherin said that “all are positive,” explaining that the decline in wind turbine orders are mainly local.

“I think right now we’re dealing with just the decline in the United States market and the change in margins that we had in that market, but overall we’re very committed to it,” Mr. Sherin says. He adds that the company’s United States wind turbine backlog was “very profitable”.

Jeff Immelt, G.E.’s chairman, said that most of the company’s wind deals during the first quarter “were in places like Brazil and Canada”. In general, Mr. Immelt expects its energy business segment to pick up in the second half of the year.

“I like our position in gas turbines and wind turbines and I think it is going to play out over the next three to five years that those too will have a good future,” Mr. Immelt says.

G.E. also reported a 12 percent hike in its research and development budget in the first quarter to improve and develop products that are expected to drive growth in orders across its operations.

One area that could receive more attention is its solar energy business, owing to its huge demand. For instance, it plans to spend about $600 million to build the largest thin-film solar factory in the United States that will produce 400 megawatts’ worth of cadmium telluride-based thin-film panels, a technology that has yet to be perfected, from PrimeStar Solar.

G.E. has also been aggressive in acquiring energy assets since last year. It spent $3.2 billion last March to acquire a 90 percent stake in France-based Converteam Group that specializes in manufacturing electric power conversion components.

The company also picked up Well Support, a division of Britain’s John Wood Group for $2.8 billion and Dresser, a manufacturer of natural gas engines, fuelling systems, and other components for $3 billion last February. Wellstream Holdings, the British oil services company, was also acquired for $1.25 billion in December 2010.
 

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CLOCK TICKING

April 27, 2011 6:43 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Offshore support and supply workers throughout the Gulf of Mexico suffering financial hardship because of the federal moratorium on deepwater drilling have less than a month to apply for the second round of financial assistance grants offered by the Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Foundation. Applications will be accepted until May 13. So far, about 900 applications have been started.

Under terms of the act of donation with BP that created the Rig Worker Assistance Fund, second-round awards are limited to individuals who were working as of May 6, 2010, in direct support of any deepwater drilling rig that was subject to the federal moratorium.

People working for offshore supply companies and offshore support companies that were directly supporting the deepwater rigs are qualified to apply. Examples include fueling, industrial, chemical and food-supply firms, and diving and crew-boat service businesses.

Grant awards will range from $3,000 to $30,000. All grants are expected to be awarded by June 15.

Those who believe they qualify should call the grant hotline at (866) 577-8141 or apply online at www.gcrpf.org . The hotline is staffed Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Applicants can help the program move rapidly by collecting qualifying documents, which include:

Paystubs indicating year-to-date income for 2009 and 2010
W-2 and 1099 tax forms for 2009 and 2010
Income tax returns for 2009 and 2010
Information related to spousal income, insurance proceeds, unemployment payments, payments from other relief funds and information about average monthly expenses for at least three months between May 6, 2010, and Oct. 12, 2010

The Gulf Coast Restoration and Protection Foundation was created to help people affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and provide for the long-term sustainability of wildlife in the coastal ecosystem.

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DESIGN DEVELOPS

April 25, 2011 6:38 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Guidance notes published by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) under the general heading of ‘DESIGN’ – Diving Equipment System Inspection Guidance Notes – have played an important role in the offshore diving industry for many years. Addressing the configuration of diving systems as utilised in the industry, they cover the four types of diving system – air, saturation, surface supplied mixed gas, and mobile/portable surface supplied diving systems – now revised guidance on annual auditing of diving systems has been published.

“The aim of these documents is to be a comprehensive reference source addressing the philosophy of what equipment and layout is required for safe diving operations, plus the examination, test and certification necessary to meet good diving industry practice,” explains IMCA’s Technical Director, Jane Bugler. “They provide a common standard for auditing diving systems and form the basis for annual diving system audits which enable the verification of the completeness, certification and planned maintenance of such systems.”

It is now common practice for each diving system to undergo a comprehensive audit annually and for the DESIGN documents to be kept up-to-date and available for review and inspection by clients and others wishing to spot check one or more items within the audit document. The latest in the series ‘Annual Auditing of Diving Systems’ (IMCA D 011 Rev 1) sets out guidance on how the DESIGN process is carried out, and bears in mind the wide number of individuals and organisations interested in the outcome.

“These include diving contractors commissioning new build diving systems and those maintaining, testing and certifying diving systems; clients; procurement and supply chain personnel contracting in third party services; as well as contractors supplying third party services,” says Jane Bugler. “The list doesn’t stop there; it also includes consultancies and agencies providing diving system auditors; diving system auditors themselves; personnel involved in quality assurance and quality control; and organisations conducting diving industry training courses.

“There are four key issues that play critical roles in the quality of DESIGN audit reports – selection and competence of diving system auditors; accuracy, completeness and traceability of information; management and quality control of the DESIGN process; and time allowed for auditors to undertake the audit – our documentation takes each of these areas into consideration.”

 

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