The world’s largest privately owned industrial gas company, The Messer Group, has successfully brought a new air separation unit (ASU) on-stream in China’s Hunan Province.

Situated in the southern city of Hengyang, the facility produces a total capacity of 22,000 Nm3 of O2 and 44,000 Nm3 of N2 each hour – the equivalent to the volume of around six million balloons.

Parallel to the commissioning of this new plant, Messer has secured a contract to supply the produced O2 and N2 to copper cathode manufacturer Minmentals Copper Co., Ltd. for the next 15 years.

The investment in Hengyang will strengthen our leading position in Hunan province


The Tier One player has been supplying Minmetals with gaseous O2 and N2 by pipeline for the past month, after the Chinese copper company opened a new facility that produces around 100,000 tonnes of copper cathodes each year, also in Hengyang.

Werner Hickel, CEO of the German corporation, signified, “The investment in Hengyang will strengthen our leading position in Hunan province. In addition, our cooperation with Minmetals ties in with our strategy of diversifying our Chinese pipeline business.”

The new ASU is the second of its kind in the region, with Messer having set the first one up in nearby Xiangtan in 1998.

gasworld’s Business Intelligence Research Analyst, Toby Pimlott, stated, “The Chinese industrial gas business was worth roughly $9.3bn in 2014, with Messer commanding a 4% share of the market. In 2015, the German corporation completed the construction of three new carbon dioxide (CO2) production facilities and a new specialty gases plant. This new ASU further strengthens Messer’s position in the North Pacific rim country.”