Air Products has announced the award of another new contract in China, by the Tangshan Guofeng Steel Co, Ltd for the supply of industrial gases including oxygen, nitrogen and liquid argon to its steel mills in Hebei Province, Northern China.

The third Air Products long-term contract signed with Guofeng Steel, formerly Xinfeng Steel Group, since 2003, a new air separation unit (ASU) is to be built adjacent to the company and is scheduled to come on-stream in late 2008.

As the third Air Products-built ASU in Tangshan for Guofeng Steel, this follows the original ASU brought on-stream in mid-2005 and the second, which is expected to be operational by the end of this year. The on-site gaseous oxygen, nitrogen and argon are used in Guoefeng Steel's blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace for iron-steel making.

Wilbur Mok, president of Air Products Asia, spoke of the new contract, $quot;Guofeng Steel has been an Air Products strategic customer since 1999. We are honoured to have been selected as its partner once again to support its next phase of expansion. It underscores the satisfaction of a long-standing customer in Air Products.$quot;

Zhang Zhen, general manager of Guofeng Steel, explained the contract award as he said, $quot;Air Products' safety and technical standards, as well as its commitment to customers deeply impress us. We are delighted to sign the new contract with Air Products to support our business expansion.$quot;

A major industrial city in the HebeiProvince, Tangshan is one of the leading steel production centres in Northern China and Guofeng Steel has 9 production facilities manufacturing 7m tpy of iron and steel.

Speaking of the growing development of this nature in Northern China, Howard Castle-Smith, vice president of Tonnage Gases Asia, Air Products, commented, $quot;The building of this new on-site plant in Tangshan not only reinforces our leading supply position to steel manufacturers in Northern China, but also enables us to make another major stride forward in China's Tonnage Gases market to support the other fast growing industries which require cost-effective and efficient large volume gas supply.$quot;

The new ASU will be designed and built primarily by Air Products' engineering and manufacturing centres in China, although no financial terms have yet been disclosed.