Part of the energy-focused AKWA Group, Maghreb Oxygene is considered to dominate a number of areas within the Moroccan gases market through its provision of industrial, medical, specialty, and feed gases.
Now with over 30 years of experience in the market since its foundation in 1977, Maghreb Oxygene, or MOX as it’s known, was born out of the will and creative thinking of founder Hmad Ould Haj.
Stifled somewhat by the monopoly of Air Liquide as the only existing supplier of industrial oxygen at the time and a natural supply disruption that arose as a result, Haj seized the opportunity to become self sufficient and invest in a market crying out for diversity.
Mox was born then, and has rapidly grown to take centre stage in the Northwest African region, refining its expertise through interaction and partnerships with world leaders such as The Linde Group and Air Products, and diversifying its activities to offer customers a comprehensive gases package.
Operating primarily from three key production sites in Berrechid, Had Soualem, and Jorf Lasfar, this package covers a wealth of gases including oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, acetylene, hydrogen, argon and helium.
The company both produces and packages its gases portfolio, but is also active in the distribution of welding equipment and materials and the distribution of medical, scientific and laboratory equipment and products.
From its original Berrechid site, launched in 1977, the company operates four production units, producing acetylene, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, while its Had Soualem site has been producing nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen since 1994.
More recently, MOX has established an on-site production unit of oxygen and nitrogen within a steel mill complex at Jorf Lasfar, and is in fact the leader for the installation of on-site facilities in the country.
The company leads the way in a number of other end-use industries too, notably mixed gases, food gases and the distribution of medical equipment such as ultrasound machines, X-ray technology and surgery tables among much more.
With a Moroccan market valued at around DH600m (Moroccan Dirhams) and comprised of three main players with an array of smaller producers, there is perhaps room for further development.
Notoriously challenging issues throughout the African continent, coupled with an unpredictable global economic climate suggest this potential for development could be clouded though.
So what of the future for Maghreb Oxygene?
Listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange Market along with the AKWA Group’s Afriquia Gaz in the late 1990s, MOX is both optimistic yet humble when reflecting on its position and performance to come.
While the extension toward Algeria is limited today, opportunities exist for the export of welding products to Portugal and the company is open to new partnerships with fellow African countries.
Closer to home there is much room for exploration. MOX has a vision – to become ‘an active player in the development, innovation and growth of the Moroccan industry’.
In 2008, this vision has already started to become a reality as the company has seen itself mature into the market leader in medical and food gases, the leader in the country’s on-sites, and present in all industrial sectors of Morocco.
Describing its rapid rise to market leadership, the company claims, ‘the crazy dream becomes a business generating profitability based on values of self denial and humility.’
Moving ever forward, MOX points out that there is also demand to be catered for from a series of fresh growth drivers, including new health regulations, infrastructure projects, and the construction of new roads and buildings.
The AKWA Group
Establishing its gas business in 1962 under the Afriquia Gaz brand, the AKWA Group is deeply rooted in the energy sector through more than 50 companies in four key areas, notably Fuel & Lubricants, LPG, Fluid, and TMT (Technologies, Media, Telecommunications & Shareholdings).
The group’s strong brands include Afriquia, Maghreb Oxygene, Meditel, and Afriquia Gaz. The 2005 acquisition of Primagaz France’s local assets and the Oismine Group, allowed AKWA to become the Moroccan oil market leader.
Local gas regulations
Although considered less stringent than their French equivalents, Morocco follows its own regulations and technical standards which are very similar to those of France.
Law 17.04 of 2006 regulates the medical gas industry for example, and defines gases as medicines – which put them under the same constraints and rules.
The country’s law of 1995 governs the transportation of hazardous materials, requiring the gas carrier to adopt a sign indicating the distinctive markings, the nature of goods transported, and the risk it represents.