Industrial gas company Air Products South Africa has announced that it will be investing in a new Air Separation Unit (ASU) in the Eastern Cape.

No investment of this nature exists in the region currently.  This has, to date, necessitated the use of the company’s long-haul cryogenic tanker fleet to truck industrial gas from its existing facilities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). The decision to invest in the Eastern Cape followed a complete market study and business analysis of the region and its future business potential. This identified that the region had long been under-served in terms of local industrial gas supply. 

The Eastern Cape, which has attracted substantial private and public investment, as well as ongoing infrastructural development, is strategically positioned for export and import activity, and manufacturing.  This has made it one of South Africa’s fastest-growing industrial development hubs.

Air Products supplies gas to a variety of industries in the Eastern Cape, notably welding gases to the automotive industry, which forms the mainstay of the province’s industrial activity and economy. With its strong focus on ensuring security of supply for its customers, the company identified a clear need for a new ASU to service its existing customers more effectively and efficiently, in addition to providing a platform for future growth of the province.

The building and installation process of the new facility, the first of its kind in the region, will commence early in 2013, with completion and commissioning planned for the fourth quarter of 2014.

This investment will not only create stability of supply for the entire region and enable the growth of local industries that require cryogenic gases, but also promises to significantly enable supply operations.

Part of the Air Products strategy is to install sufficient gas storage, further increasing the reliability of supply to the market and reducing, if not eliminating the dependency of long distance trucking.

Air Products’ business strategy, with regard to long-term capital investments and business opportunities, hinges on a proactive and flexible approach to market changes. This, in turn, requires an intimate knowledge of the market and its forces. The company has a reputation for adopting an open-minded approach to investment opportunities and maintaining an innovative approach in respect of providing supply chain solutions.

The decision to invest in the Eastern Cape is in line with Air Products’ vision of growing its national footprint and diversifying supply to a broader market. The company believes that not only will local consumers benefit directly from the investment but it will also enhance government’s ability to market the Eastern Cape as a viable investment destination.

Air Products has indicated the possibility of further capital investment in the Western and Eastern Cape regions in the future.