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Business Brief: GE Purchase Of Texas Oil Co. Bodes Well For Jacksonville Plant


General Electric employs more than 400 full-time workers at its oil- and gas-drilling services plant on Jacksonville’s Westside.

General Electric shook up the financial world last week with its takeover of a Texas-based oil- and gas company called Baker Hughes, creating a combined company with annual revenue of $32 billion and 70,000 employees.

What will this new company do?

Simply put, it makes the equipment and provides the services needed to get oil and gas out of the ground. Its customers range from Exxon Mobil and BP down to the much smaller Wildcat drillers across North America. GE is heavy on digital technology, while Baker Hughes’ strength is helping out with the on-the-ground work in oil fields and floating rigs.

What does the purchase mean for the Jacksonville plant?

A GE spokeswoman said it’s just too early to say specifically what the combined company means for the Jacksonville plant, but industry analysts have given the move a thumbs up for combining complementary strengths.

So it makes sense that the move bodes well for the Jacksonville GE oil and gas plant. It now has over 400 employees and is building toward 500.

Oil and gas fracking, which itself a relatively new technology, started in the U.S and is spreading across the world. Despite concerns over safety and bans on the practice in some states and communities, experts expect it to be a growing business for many years.

How does the merger fit into General Electric’s overall strategy?

You may have seen the TV commercials where the geeky college grad is excited about his new high-tech job at GE, but his friends and family are confused – they still see GE as an old-line manufacturer.

GE is trying to get the message across that it’s transforming its business. It’s shed its huge financial services operations and home appliance manufacturing operations to concentrate on what it calls “digital industrial,” or software to make industrial production quicker and more efficient. 

WJCT Business Analyst John Burr is a veteran journalist who has been been directing news coverage and reporting in Jacksonville since 1983. He is currently also a news analyst for WJCT, where he can be heard regularly on the "First Coast Connect" media roundtable.