Air Liquide has entered a new long-term agreement with Dongbei Special Steel Group in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China.

Under the terms of this agreement, Air Liquide will install a new Air Separation Unit (ASU) with a production capacity of 550tpd of oxygen in Dalian to supply gaseous oxygen, nitrogen and argon by pipeline to the new Dongbei Special Steel Group steelworks. This unit, which includes a capacity of 200tpd of liquid products, will also enable Air Liquide to develop the local industrial market.

Mr. Zhao Mingyuan, chairman of Dongbei Special Steel Group, explained, $quot;Our Company has a bright future with ever increasing needs for our special steel products. After fruitful discussion, we have taken the decision to outsource our industrial gas needs and have selected Air Liquide.$quot;

Founded in 1905 as Dalian Steel, the group has recently started an ambitious relocation and upgrade of its production facilities, and has also decided to outsource its industrial gas requirements. To meet the needs of this customer, Air Liquide will invest more than €20m in a new ASU to be commissioned in mid 2008.

The unit will be designed and manufactured by Air Liquide Hangzhou, the Air Liquide engineering centre in China, and will use the latest technologies of the Group providing both high reliability and high energy efficiency, in line with Chinese government objectives.

Jean-Pierre Duprieu, senior vice-president Asia-Pacific and member of Air Liquide's Executive Committee, said, $quot;We are very pleased to have signed this agreement with Dongbei Special Steel Group, a very well-known Chinese State Owned Enterprise, which has decided to outsource its industrial gas needs. With this new investment we will enter the fast growing Dalian market, which will provide new opportunities to develop our business.$quot;