Air Liquide has inked a number of long-term deals to supply industrial gases to customers in the rapidly emerging Eastern Europe market, announcing contracts with a number of customers in Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania.

Eastern Europe is a fast developing region with strong double digit growth rates, where many markets such as metals, automotive and shipyard are expanding quickly and require substantial quantities of industrial gases – as explored by gasworld’s recent regional analysis. Air Liquide has increased its presence in this region to meet the needs of large international clients and reinforce its capacity, to deliver innovative industrial gas solutions to these key markets.

The French distributor inked 15-year deals to supply oxygen to Hungarian steel maker DAM, a subsidiary of the Ukrainian Donbass Group and one of the major steel producers in the world. Air Liquide will install and operate an on-site unit to supply oxygen, to be commissioned mid-2008 in Miskolc, north-east Hungary

Also in Hungary and supporting the automative market, Air Liquide Hungary recently commissioned an on-site unit in Győr to supply nitrogen for DANA Hungary, a subsidiary of one of the world’s leading automotive parts suppliers. In the same sector, the group has signed two new long term contracts in Poland with Timken and Delphi for the on-site supply of nitrogen. Timken is located in Sosnowiec, near Katowice, and manufactures bearings for the automotive industry. Delphi’s facility in Ostrów Wielkopolski manufactures and assembles various automotive parts and components. Both on-site units will be commissioned in mid-2008.

The group has also announced a new 15 year contract in Bulgaria with its customer Cumerio, to supply oxygen to its copper smelting plant at Pirdop, 80km east of Sofia. Air Liquide now owns and operates all the existing air separation units on the site, with a combined capacity of 800 tpd of oxygen, making it one of the largest in the country.

Investments to support key markets in the region reached €70m in 2007 and Guy Salzgeber, Vice-President European Industrial Business and Member of the Executive Committee of Air Liquide Group, commented, “We are actively developing our activities in the strongly growing markets of Eastern Europe. The recent contracts signed illustrate well the Group’s growth strategy in this part of the world addressing in particular important manufacturing industries such as metals, automotive or shipyards.”

“Given the future perspectives of these Eastern Europe markets, we intend to continue increasing our investments in the years to come.”

For the shipyard industry, Air Liquide has just commissioned a new 1,000 tpy acetylene unit in Romania to supply Aker Yards in Braila, under a 10 year contract. Aker Yards Braila is one of the major shipyards in south-eastern Romania, located on the Danube close to the Black Sea. This unit is also supplying Aker Yards Tulcea, also on the Danube, as well as other customers in the region.