Atlanta-based GE Energy, a unit of Connecticut-based General Electric Co., continued to solidify its status as a main provider of energy technology in the Middle East by gaining multiple contracts to supply a total of 32 gas turbines for power plants in Kuwait and Qatar.

“These new projects in Kuwait and Qatar reinforce GE’s already strong presence in the Middle East, as more than 50 percent of the installed thermal power in the region is based on GE technology,” said Steve Bolz, president of power generation for GE Energy.

The contracts total will be worth a combined $1.8 billion, about half of the $3.5 billion that countries in the region have pledged to GE contracts since last December.

Twenty of the turbines, which will provide an added 2.5 gigawatts of power to Kuwait, will be owned and operated by the Kuwait Ministry of Electricity & Water. GE plans to ship them from a manufacturing station in Belfort, France, and install them in the power station in the city of Sabiya.

For one of its contracts with Qatar, GE will provide a variety of gas and steam turbines as well as generators for a two-gigawatt power plant in the industrial city of Mesaieed.

GE shipped the first gas turbine, which was manufactured in Greenville, S.C., to Qatar in June with the Schenectady, N.Y.-manufactured steam turbines to follow. The plant is projected to begin producing a gigawatt of electricity by July 2008.

Demand for power in the small, peninsular nation on the Persian Gulf has increased by 17 percent since last year, after only jumping 9 percent in the four previous years.

In a third contract, GE plans to provide turbines to Qatalum, a company constructing a power plant that will power the first aluminum smelter in Qatar.