Although little information has been coming out of Russia lately due to the war in Ukraine, a recent review and analysis of the UEC Saturn and UEC Perm websites reveals a possible shift in focus of these turbine manufacturers. Servicing existing units seems to be the current priority of these companies rather than the production of new machines.
Russia is 100 percent self-sufficient in terms of energy; i.e., it has plenty of capacity to cover its demands. Recently published data on energy consumption vs. electricity generation suggests that energy consumption is decreasing while capacity is increasing. Therefore, this trend within the Russian gas turbine industry makes sense. Why produce more gas turbines when the capacity is there?
Repairing these machines will suffice for the time being. UEC Saturn is now extensively advertising its manufacture of Tier 2-4 components, including blades and vanes. UEC Perm, UEC Saturn’s sister company, has seemingly dropped much of its former turbine portfolio with an emphasis on larger machines. What does this translate to? Russia’s energy sector is likely hunkering down and weathering the storm. Its outlook seems to be: rather than replace these machines with newer technology, let’s maintain the status quo.
Power production is one sector, but what about all of that gas? Russia has a vast network of pipelines that need a small gas turbine every 100 kilometers or so to keep the gas flowing. Many of these turbines are not Russian at all; they are Ukrainian Zorya-Mashproekt machines. Again, why replace when you can repair?
All of this translates to Russia holding on. These turbines, whether mechanical drive or power generation machines, will not be replaced by more efficient turbines. Russia had indeed tried to obtain newer technologies, having placed an order for 20 Baker Hughes LM9000 turbines (based on the GE90 aviation engine); however, only four were delivered before sanctions hit the country.
Running less efficient machines through repairs is not the end of the world for Russia as it currently stands. As time goes on, these machines might become more difficult to repair and replacement will be necessary. It remains to be seen if UEC Saturn and UEC Perm will be able to produce enough machines to meet demand.