Air Liquide has announced the signature of a long-term agreement with the second largest government-owned steel company in India, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL).

Reaffirming its involvement in the expanding Indian steel industry and at an investment of around €70m, Air Liquide will supply oxygen and nitrogen to meet the needs of RINL’s expansion from 3 to 6.3 millions tons per year of steel.

Located in Vizag, north of Andhra Pradesh, this new facility of industrial gases will address the south India market, complementing Air Liquide’s existing strong foothold in the north and west of India.

Air Liquide will invest, build and operate two air separation units (ASU) with a total installed oxygen capacity over 1,800 tonnes per day, scheduled to start up by the end of 2012. In addition, Air Liquide will produce large quantities of liquid gases (oxygen, nitrogen and argon) to meet the needs of the industrial and medical customers in the region.

The Air Liquide investment amounts to around €70m for the production facilities and the supply chain together. The ASUs will be designed and built by Air Liquide Engineering teams in Hyderabad, India.

The Indian steel industry, currently the fifth largest in the world, is expected to triple its production capacity over the next decade. Steel is essential for responding to India’s needs in the infrastructure and automobile production sectors, both currently experiencing strong growth.

Jean-Marc de Royere, Senior Vice-President Asia-Pacific and a member of the Air Liquide Executive Committee, said, “This new project is an important milestone for the development of Air Liquide in India. It provides a solid reference in the booming steel industry and opens the southern market to our liquid gases.$quot;

$quot;India is an important country for Air Liquide and developing economies are one of the growth drivers for the group.”

Having started its Indian business in 1992, Air Liquide now operates with more than 1,100 employees in India: in industrial gases (mainly for the steel, automobile, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and glass markets), Engineering & Construction, and Healthcare.

The main facilities are in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Vadodara, Panipat, Roorkee, Dharuhera and soon in Vizag.