Siemens AG has eye on drilling industry
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Timing, they say, is everything. Siemens AG, Europe's largest engineering company, and its divisions and employees in Pittsburgh are hoping that's the case.
The company, with a headquarters in Warrendale that specializes in water treatment systems and services as well as other energy-related divisions in the area, appears to be poised to capitalize on the Marcellus Shale boom in the region and beyond.
Youngstown native Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens Corp. in the United States, said he would like nothing better than to add to Siemens' 1,600 employees in Pittsburgh by becoming a leader in supplying and servicing the natural gas industry.
"We definitely see an uptick in the oil and gas businesses. It's one of our growth businesses," he said. "This is kind of an opportunity for a new era."
Mr. Spiegel believes several of Siemens' Pittsburgh-based entities could become important contributors to the natural gas boom, either by supplying needed equipment or helping in dealing with concerns about water use and contamination as a result of drilling operations.
"We're spending a lot of time and effort trying to help with those problems," he said.
For instance, Warrendale-based Siemens Water Technologies, with 140 employees locally, provides sustainable water and waste water treatment systems and services to municipalities and industries throughout the world. It has developed a system designed to help in the treatment of water used in the Marcellus Shale drilling process.
The New Kensington-based Large Drives Application division, with 600 employees, develops motors and drives for use in a number of industries, including those involved in oil and gas drilling.
Beyond the region, Siemens last fall opened a $350 million gas turbine manufacturing plant in Charlotte, N.C., in hopes of capitalizing on the growing availability of natural gas. The company sees cleaner-burning gas replacing coal as the fuel of choice in power plants across the country and the world.
"We're obviously placing a big bet on natural gas," Mr. Spiegel said. "The country has a lot of natural gas. We see that as a big opportunity. We think there are going to be a lot of gas plants built."
In addition to Water Technologies, Pittsburgh is the headquarters of the 190-employee Siemens Environmental Systems and Services, which designs and supplies air pollution reduction products. Its Metals Technologies division, with 140 employees, is based in Canonsburg. A building technologies office also is located in Bridgeville.
Mr. Spiegel said there are good reasons Siemens has developed such deep roots in the region.
Of course, there's the growth of the natural gas industry and the abundance of manufacturing facilities and coal mining operations, particularly in West Virginia.
In addition, Pittsburgh's manufacturing roots have produced a strong pool of skilled labor, Mr. Spiegel said. For a company where innovation is a priority, access to top scientists and researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Penn State University and other schools is a big plus.
"Pittsburgh is a good fit for us. It's become quite a good city for innovation and technology. We see it as a place where we can keep doing business," he said.
Overall, Siemens has 7,000 employees in Pennsylvania, its largest concentration in the country. In the United States, Siemens has 60,000 employees and more than 60 business units. The U.S. generated about $25 billion in sales last year, representing nearly 25 percent of Siemens' $110 billion in sales globally.
"Basically the United States has every business that Siemens has globally, because it's the biggest market for Siemens," Mr. Spiegel said.
First Published March 20, 2012 12:00 am