Air Liquide has announced its entry into the Colombian market with a €40m investment in a new carbon dioxide (CO2) production plant and cogeneration unit.

The new facility in Tocancipá is expected to begin commercial production in late 2016.

The investment comes under a contract with Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world and the largest beverage company in Latin America.

Under the terms of the agreement, Air Liquide will supply CO2 as well as nitrogen, electricity, refrigerated water, compressed air and steam to Coca-Cola FEMSA’s largest bottling facility in Colombia, in Tocancipá, Cundinamarca, around 40km north of the country’s capital, Bogotá.

Air Liquide already supplies industrial gases and utilities to two of Coca-Cola FEMSA’s major bottling facilities in Brazil, in the cities of Itabirito and Jundiaí.

Latin America offers good development prospects for Air Liquide, with Colombia in particular showing attractive growth potential with its robust industrial and manufacturing activity, growing economy, and abundant natural resources.

Indeed, gasworld understands that ECLAC, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, projects economic growth of 3% in Colombia in 2016 – one of the strongest rates of growth in South America in the year ahead, and outstripping that of Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. In contrast, Brazil – the largest economy in the region – is expected to contract by 2% this year.

Michael J. Graff, Senior Vice-President for the Americas and member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee, spoke of the ‘major opportunity’ that the region presents for the company. Reflecting on its new investment in Colombia, he commented, “Our entry into Colombia provides a major opportunity for Air Liquide as we establish our presence in this strategic market and further expand our presence in Latin America.”

“We are very pleased to have reached this milestone in our working relationship with Coca-Cola FEMSA, a long-term partner of Air Liquide. We look forward to our continuing partnership and to supporting Coca-Cola FEMSA’s growth in Latin America by supplying safe, reliable and sustainable solutions.”

Air Liquide’s new facility will employ at least 30 people, located within the Permanent Free Trade Zone FEMSA Industrial Park. Additional CO2 produced by Air Liquide’s facility will be available to the surrounding market.