Air Products South Africa unveiled its R300m Eastern Cape air separation unit (ASU) in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) at a ceremony held in the country on November 6th.

The state-of-the-art, energy-efficient facility is the first of its kind to be commissioned in the Eastern Cape and is the sixteenth ASU to be commissioned countrywide by Air Products South Africa.

The Coega ASU is the second to be launched by Air Products in South Africa this year, and forms part of its long-term capital investment pipeline of R2bn.  The investment pipeline is aimed at establishing a solid national gas production and supply footprint.

“We committed to supply gas to our Eastern Cape customers by the fourth quarter of 2014. We are actually ahead, with the plant already commissioned in September. We are therefore successfully providing a stable and secure supply of industrial gases to the region,” Air Products General Manager: Central Services, Josua le Roux said.

The newly-commissioned facility will produce 110 tonnes per day of liquid nitrogen and oxygen, with the capacity to scale up production in line with market demand. It supplies industrial gases for a wide range of applications – from welding to freezing – to diverse sectors in the region, including the automotive, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, agro-processing, food and beverage industries.

Air Products had made a strategic decision to invest in the Coega IDZ based on thorough market analysis, which showed increasing demand for gas across the industrial spectrum in the Eastern Cape, along with promising economic growth.

According to Le Roux, the availability of a secure supply of industrial gas, which no longer has to be trucked in over long distances from outside the province, strengthens the Eastern Cape’s industrial infrastructure and its attractiveness as an investment destination of choice.

“Security of industrial gas supply further supports business sustainability and competitiveness, by enhancing the region’s supply chain network - which in turn opens the door to further industrial growth, investment and job creation throughout the entire value chain,” he said.

As the largest supplier in the on-site and pipeline markets in Southern Africa, Air Products has been at the forefront of air separation technology innovation over the past 15 years.

The Coega ASU incorporates the latest advances in order to deliver optimal energy efficiency and maximum product output capacity, at a reasonable cost of production.