Air Liquide has announced the start-up of two very large air separation units (ASU), to supply the Shagang steel mills in Zhanjiagang, in China’s Jiangsu Province.

The new ASUs will together produce up to 4000 tonnes of gaseous oxygen per day, to supply oxygen, nitrogen and argon to Shagang steel mills in Zhanjiagang.

As announced on 13th March 2007, Air Liquide invested around €90m to meet the needs of its customer, who had decided to outsource its growing need for industrial gases. This long-term contract with Jiangsu Shagang is the largest ‘Over the Fence’ type contract in China.

The two units will also supply other local industrial customers with gaseous and liquid products. In particular, the site will have a capacity of 600 tonnes per day (tpd) of liquid nitrogen and oxygen to meet the demands of a fast-growing market.

Designed and manufactured by Air Liquide Hangzhou, Air Liquide’s Engineering centre in China, the units benefit from the latest technologies and offer both a high degree of reliability and energy efficiency.

Jean-Pierre Duprieu, Senior Vice-President Asia-Pacific and a member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee, explained, “We are very proud of the commissioning of these big new units. In addition, the decision of a leading company such as Shagang to outsource its industrial gas needs to Air Liquide means very much to us.”

“This start-up also symbolizes the rapid and significant development of our activities in China, especially in Jiangsu Province. We would like to thank our customer for its trust, as well as the Zhanjiagang authorities for their continuous support. This commissioning is one of the start-ups confirmed for 2009-2010 worldwide, and attests to the robustness of the Air Liquide business model.”

Shen WenRong, Chairman of Shagang, added, “Following our decision in 2007 to outsource our supply of industrial gases, we are happy to see the start-up of these units. We are looking forward to continue to develop our win-win partnership with Air Liquide.”

Increasing steel production
The Jiangsu Shagang Group is located in Zhanjiagang, about 100km west of Shanghai. It ranks number one among private steel companies in China, and number four in terms of steel production.

From 23 million tonnes in 2008, the group continues to increase its steel production. Its main site, in the Zhanjiagang Yangzte Metallurgical Industrial Park (YMIP), has a capacity of 14 million tonnes.

Air Liquide has made a real contribution to the steady growth of the Jiangsu market, which is one of the largest and fastest growing regions in China, with GDP growth of 12.5% in 2008.