Air Liquide India, a 100% subsidiary of the France-based Air Liquide Group, plans to focus on the steel sector as one of its primary vehicles of growth in the country and plans to invest in large air separation units there in the future.

The company, which supplies industrial gases to several steel companies in north and west India, is installing air separation plants in companies like the public sector Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and Jindal Steel, while also either in the bidding or negotiation stage for setting up plants and gases supply on a build-own-operate (BOO) basis, to companies such as SAIL, Tata Steel, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) and Jindal Steel among others.

Air Liquide India has an annual turnover of Rs 2.8bn, and plans to invest in a big way in large air separation units in India. The company is in the process of installing two new industrial gases manufacturing units, one at Jagadhia in Gujarat which is expected to be operational this year, and another in north India at Panipat – scheduled to be operational in 2009 and the largest air separation unit in the area.

As part of its expansion and consolidation plans, the company has recently doubled the capacity of its air separation gases manufacturing facility in Hyderabad, with a cryogenic tank manufacturing facility also in an advanced planning stage. The company initiated its presence in India by providing air separation technology to BHPV and then started its own plant manufacturing and selling activity in India in the 1980’s, setting up its own company,

According to a spokesperson for the company, Air Liquide India is fully backed in terms of technical and engineering support, by Air Liquide Engineering India, to date having designed and commissioned more than 30 air separation units.

At present, the company has three state-of-the-art gas manufacturing units and gas filling facilities in Alwar in the state of Rajasthan, Roorkee in Uttaranchal and Ankleshwar in the state of Gujarat. These units are running on continuous basis and supply oxygen, nitrogen, argon and hydrogen to over 200 customers in various sectors of Indian industry like major steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, glass, healthcare, oil and petrochemical companies.