In line with the worldwide boom in the iron and steel industry, Air Liquide has announced that it has decided to invest over €120m to increase its production capacity in Germany and Italy to meet the increasing demand of its customers.

A world-scale new air separation unit (ASU) of 2,300 tonnes of oxygen per day will be built at Oberhausen in Germany and will be commissioned in 2010, while Air Liquide will also build a new ASU on its 650 km pipeline network in the north of Italy - in order to supply the new installation of the Arvedi Group in Cremona, with whom Air Liquide has entered into a new long term agreement.

The new Italian unit is scheduled to be commissioned by end of 2009.
The worldwide boom of the iron and steel industry continues despite the price increase of raw materials and in Europe alone, steel consumption grew more than 5% in 2007, driven mainly by the construction and automotive industry.

Industrial gases play a significant role in the steel making process and serve to reduce production costs, such as the consumption of raw materials like the injection of oxygen in the blast furnace, which allows the steel companies to consume less coking coal.

Air Liquide is growing in line with the prospering iron and steel industries and Guy Salzgeber, member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee and Vice-President for European Operations, declared, “With these new investments, Air Liquide is increasing its global production capacity of oxygen in Europe which represents a unique capability for customers especially in the steel industry. These two new projects are a further illustration of the group’s acceleration of its growth.”

The company’s new Oberhausen ASU will be connected to Air Liquide’s 500km pipeline network in Germany, which forms the backbone for the supply of oxygen and nitrogen to numerous large customers in the iron and steel, chemical and petrochemical industries in the Rhine-Ruhr area. This unit will in particular be supplying the increasing needs of Hüttenwerke Krupp Mannesmann GmbH and DK Recycling und Roheisen GmbH, with whom Air Liquide has signed new long term contracts.