Air Liquide has reinforced its position in Western Europe after signing a string of renewal contracts with ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer.

The Tier One corporation has signed two such renewal deals for the supply of oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2) and argon (Ar) to ArcelorMittal’s production sites in the industrial port areas of Fos-sur-Mer and Dunkirk in France, and Ghent in Belgium.

As a result, Air Liquide has announced it will extend its pipeline network in the Benelux region to support the growth of ArcelorMittal’s industrial gas needs.

Air Liquide already supplies the steel production sites in France from its existing pipeline, but the plant in Ghent will also be connected to its Benelux network following these new renewal contracts. The pipeline network currently stretches 4,700kms in Europe – already the world’s most extensive network.

Supporting the shift

Guy Salzgeber, Senior Vice-President and member of the Air Liquide’s group Executive Committee supervising Europe Industries, commented, “This new step illustrates Air Liquide’s ability to support the shift in the European steel industry to high value added steel. Our longstanding collaboration with ArcelorMittal will also help us reinforce our presence in several major industrial basins in France and Belgium.”

The steelmaking industry is a traditional end-user of gases, including O2, N2 and Ar. O2 in particular has played an integral role in the way the steelmaking industry has transformed over the past few decades.

According to gasworld Business Intelligence, roughly 14% of European revenues – or around €2.3bn ($2.5bn) – was generated through sales of industrial gases to metallurgical industries in 2015, although this demand continues to reduce due to the amount of cheaper China exports hitting the market.