As the Middle East economies continue to grow, the need for industrial gases becomes greater; now, Air Liquide is stepping up to the task of satisfying those needs.

Following the company’s acquisition of Saudi Arabia’s Al Khafrah Industrial Gases Company, which was announced earlier this month, Air Liquide has made further investments in the Middle East.

In Oman, the local subsidiary Air Liquide Sohar Industrial Gases has commissioned a new nitrogen unit to serve the needs of the ORPC Refinery in Muscat, based on a long-term supply agreement.

This third facility in the country will supplement the two units commissioned in 2006 and 2008 in the Industrial Park of Sohar.

In Egypt’s Alexandria, Air Liquide is starting up a new oxygen unit to supply the steel mill of EZZ, one of the region’s largest steel producers.

This Air Separation Unit (ASU) will supplement the two existing units already in operation, bringing total installed capacity to 700tpd of oxygen. This investment is also based on a long-term supply agreement.

To supply its growing needs in Industrial Merchant in Egypt, Air Liquide has just commissioned an ASU near Cairo with a production capacity of 140tpd of liquid oxygen and nitrogen.

An additional argon production facility with a capacity of 12tpd will also be commissioned in Alexandria to supply the welding gases and argon mixture industry in Egypt and in its neighbouring countries.

The total investment for these new units and the recent acquisitions of Al Khafrah and Pure Helium amounted to US$150m, which will contribute to growth in 2009.

Air Liquide is the leading global player in the Middle Eastern industrial gases market, Pierre Dufour, Senior Executive Vice-President of the Air Liquide Group, responsible for the Middle East region, said, “With these new units in Oman and Egypt, Air Liquide is positioned to meet the growing needs of its long-term customers and support their geographic expansion. These latest commissionings represent a further step in Air Liquide’s presence in this growth region.”