An Air Products joint venture company based in Sichuan, China has signed an agreement to build an air separation unit (ASU) for PetroChina Company Limited, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world.

The ASU will supply oxygen and nitrogen to PetroChina’s main refinery and ethylene complex in Sichuan, as well as produce liquid products for Air Products’ merchant gases customers in the Chengdu area.

“This is a key project for Air Products which allows us to continue to grow both our on-site and merchant supply presence in China,” commented Phil Sproger, Vice President-Business Development for Asia at Air Products.

“We appreciate the fact that PetroChina has put its trust in Air Products to form a partnership and supply the industrial gases to its new Sichuan refinery and ethylene complex,” he added.

Chengdu Air and Gas Products Co., Ltd., a joint venture between Air Products’ wholly-owned subsidiary, Prodair Corporation, and PetroChina Sichuan Petrochemical Co., Ltd., a joint venture between PetroChina Company Limited and Chengdu government, will build the ASU in Sichuan province, China. The new ASU will be designed and built primarily by Air Products’ engineering centre in Shanghai and its cryogenic manufacturing centre in Caojing, near Shanghai.

PetroChina, one of the companies with the biggest sales revenues in China, plays a leading role in the oil and gas industry in China as its largest oil and gas producer and distributor. PetroChina was established as a joint stock company with limited liabilities by China National Petroleum Corporation in 1999.

Sproger noted that this ASU fits well with Air Products’ strategic plan, and allows its merchant industrial gas business to continue expanding in China.

This announcement follows closely Air Products’ recent announcement about plans to purchase and operate four existing air separation units and build a new ASU, to be on-stream in March 2011, to supply industrial gases to Xingtai Iron and Steel Corporation, Ltd., one of China’s largest specialty steel manufacturers located in Hebei province, China.

The PetroChina ASU is to be on-stream in late 2011.