The Linde Group and refining and chemical company SINOPEC Qilu Company have signed an agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture at Zibo in Shandong Province, China. The joint venture is named Zibo BOC Qilu Gases Company Ltd and has a total investment of approximately $64 million.

SINOPEC Qilu's two existing ASUs will become the property of the new joint venture. In addition, a new ASU with a capacity of 1,500tpd of oxygen will be erected at Zibo by March 2008. Ultimately the joint venture will have a staff off around 180 and will supply SINOPEC Qilu, other companies in the Zibo area, and third party markets with a total of more than 4,000tpd of oxygen, nitrogen and argon.

$quot;This joint venture will reinforce the strategic partnership between The Linde Group and SINOPEC,$quot; said Trevor Burt, member of the Executive Board of Linde AG and responsible for the Asia/Pacific region. $quot;Zibo BOC Qilu Gases will be the leading supplier of industrial gases in the region.$quot;.

Wang Shude, manager of SINOPEC Qilu, said that the partnership with The Linde Group would allow SINOPEC Qilu to focus on its core business. $quot;The economic benefits for both parties from this joint venture will secure a win-win relationship,$quot; he said.

SINOPEC Qilu, a subsidiary of SINOPEC Corp., is one of the largest refining-chemical integrated petrochemical companies in China, with a sales revenue of $7.4 billion in 2005. SINOPEC Corp. is a Chinese company listed in Hong Kong, New York, London and Shanghai. The company is one of the largest crude oil and petrochemical companies in China and Asia.