When BOC Australia unveiled its new $20m specialty gases production facility in February, it did so against a backdrop of new industrial growth in the country and with expectations of sustained specialty gas demand in the future.

The new specialty gases facility increases BOC’s capacity to locally produce and supply over 8,000 high purity and specialty gases to many high value industries in Australia, and free’s the local supply chain from some of the import constraints it had previously faced.

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As BOC South Pacific Managing Director John Evans, and Linde Group Executive Board Member Sanjiv Lamba, explain in an exclusive interview with gasworld, the timing of the plant’s unveiling could not be better.

“This is one of the most advanced specialty gas production facilities within The Linde Group,” enthuses Evans. “It features technology and information systems developed by Linde that redefine the way custom specialty gases are formulated by calculating gas recipes and safety data instantly for most products. This has significantly reduced lead times for orders.”

With Australia and the wider South Pacific region in the midst of sustained, increasing demand for specialty gases and mixtures, the arrival of quick and readily available product is welcome news indeed.

Australia is transitioning out of the mining boom and is committed to building a more knowledge and research-based economy, with Evans citing the scientific, medical and universities sectors in particular as driving specialty gases demand right now.

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Source: BOC/The Linde Group

“Australia is already home to some of the world’s leading medical research and science facilities that depend on specialty gases for laboratory work and experiments. At the moment, we are seeing notable demand across fertility clinics, life sciences and cancer research facilities,” he adds.

“Another area is the energy and environmental sector. For example, Australia’s largest LNG producers require specialty gas mixtures to determine the calorific value of LNG before exporting, while the environmental emissions monitoring market need specialty gases to calibrate equipment that tests emissions – particularly prevalent in the automotive sector.”

These are long-term trends that BOC can support for a long time to come, Evans explains. “With continued government support and investment, we expect these growth sectors to flourish in Australia, creating sustained demand for specialty gases well into the future.”

So does BOC and Linde have the capabilities to meet the demand?

Evans and Lamba believe so, while also not ruling out further expansion of these new capabilities in the future – such is the potential level of specialty gas demand in the region. “The decision on more plants will be a function of market demand growth and capacity utilisation,” affirms Lamba.

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“With this new facility, along with BOC’s other specialty gas sites in Western Australia, Victoria and New Zealand, Linde will be in a strong position to meet the demand in the specialty gases sector in the medium-term. However, when demand surpasses production capability in the future, there is always potential to expand this new facility to increase its supply capabilities.”

Underlining the strong outlook for the region’s specialty gases business, Lamba concludes, “More broadly, the Asia-Pacific market continues to see strong development in the demand for specialty gases and over time, investment in new facilities will happen for import substitution.”