Air Liquide India announces the signature of a 15-year contract with the glass manufacturer Asahi India Glass Limited (AIS).

Air Liquide will supply gaseous nitrogen and hydrogen to the new AIS green field integrated glass plant under construction at Roorkee in Uttaranchal state, about 170 kilometres north-east of NewDelhi.

Nitrogen and hydrogen are used on a continuous basis in tin baths during the glass manufacturing process to maintain an inert atmosphere. To serve AIS and meet the growing requirements of the local market, Air Liquide will invest 20 million US dollars in a new Air Separation Unit (ASU) with a capacity of 250 tonnes per day.

This new unit will start operations in June 2006 to supply nitrogen gas by pipeline to AIS, and also liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon to various other customers in northern India.

This unit will be entirely designed and installed by the Indian Air Liquide Engineering & Construction centre located at Hyderabad. Air Liquide India intends through this additional capacity to support promising development in targeted key areas in India by combining proximity to customers with innovative solutions based on the group’s technological know-how.

Jean-Pierre Duprieu, senior vice president, Asia Pacific and member of the executive committee of Air Liquide said: “We are very proud to have been chosen by Asahi India Glass Limited, a partner in India of Asahi Glass, a worldwide leader in the glass market.

“This new investment strengthens our presence in India for the long term and gives us a significant competitive advantage in the industrial gas market.

“It illustrates our growth strategy in emerging countries, like India and China, in which the group meets the new needs of booming sectors.”

Among emerging countries, the Indian economy is booming, mainly driven by robust domestic consumption and also good growth in exports.

The manufacturing sector in India is now growing at around ten per cent each year.

The glass market, with applications in automotive glass but also in building construction (malls, office complexes, airports, housing etc.), is forecast to grow at around 12 per cent each year over the next five years.