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General Electric is bringing its focus on energy to Oklahoma

General Electric is highlighting its commitment to its oil and natural gas business by establishing a global energy research center in Oklahoma City.
by Jay F. Marks Published: April 15, 2013

Those in the know in Oklahoma's energy sector have long been familiar with General Electric's role in the industry.

Oklahoma Energy Secretary Mike Ming worked with GE while he was president of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, his last job before becoming Gov. Mary Fallin's top energy advisory.

“They're a global company,” he said. “It's such an iconic name.”

GE's history of innovation dates back to Thomas Edison, the company's founder and one of the country's most prolific inventors.

Ming said GE has been increasing its commitment to the oil and gas industry over the past several years, armed with its strong focus on research. That commitment culminated locally in GE's April 3 announcement of its plan to build a global research center in Oklahoma City.

“This is a confirmation that Oklahoma is a center of excellence for energy in the United States,” said Michael Kehs, spokesman for Chesapeake Energy Corp.

During the April 3 announcement at the state Capitol, GE CEO Jeff Immelt said the $110 million center represents the intersection of GE's long-standing commitment to technology and innovation and its focus on the oil and gas industry.

“Going all the way back to the days of Edison, this has been a company that has been about science and technology,” Immelt said. “Today we spend more than 6 percent of our industrial revenue back into research and development.

“We do a lot of applied technology in every corner of the world as part of our businesses.”

GE is involved in a number of businesses, from aviation to health care to energy.

“Technology is one of the key threads that holds us together,” Immelt said.

He said the energy industry needs technology to work in subsea oil fields, improve hydraulic fracturing techniques and transport oil around the world. GE's expertise will help.

“It's a lot of the same technology that's going to help make that happen,” he said.

Choosing Oklahoma

Mark Little, GE's chief technology officer, said Oklahoma City gives the company access to its oil and gas customers and top science talent in a state with a strong business climate.

“That's why we're here,” he said during the Capitol announcement.

Gov. Mary Fallin said GE, one of the world's largest companies, is an iconic figure within the global economy and a number of different industries. She said the company is a world leader in advanced oil and gas technologies.

“It's exciting to have GE choose Oklahoma, which we think is the epicenter for oil and gas and unconventional resources,” Fallin said. “We have been on the cutting edge of many of the technological breakthroughs that have occurred in our nation.

“This is a big deal because GE has (eight) global research centers around the world.”

GE has grand plans for its Oklahoma City-based research center, its first that will be dedicated to one industry.

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by Jay F. Marks
Energy Reporter
Jay F. Marks has been covering Oklahoma news since graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996. He worked in Sulphur and Enid before joining The Oklahoman in 2005. Marks has been covering the energy industry since 2009.
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GE is ranked as the world's third-largest company (trailing ExxonMobil and JPMorgan Chase), and world's largest conglomerate by Forbes.

2012 figures: Revenue of $147 billion, profits of $13.6 billion and assets of $685 billion.

Current market value: $244 billion

Employees: 305,000, including 134,000 in the United States

Business segments: Power & Water, Oil & Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation, Home & Business Solutions and GE Capital

Products and services: Include diesel-electric locomotives, aircraft engines, power generation turbines, water processing, household appliances, medical imaging devices, as well as business and consumer financing and industrial products

SOURCE: GE regulatory filings and Forbes

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