Messer has invested over €160m so far in the expansion of its gas production in Western Europe, and there’s a lot more to come.

“With our investments in Germany, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy and Spain, we are sending a clear signal that we believe in the economic potential of Western Europe,” says Stefan Messer, Proprietor and Management Board Chairman of Messer.

In total, Messer, the privately-run producer of oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide, is investing €700m to ensure the continued reliable and independent supply of product to its European and Asian customers.

Germany

Just this September, Messer began operation of a new air separation unit (ASU) on the grounds of the Deutsche Edelstahlwerke in Siegen.

A second unit will expand the delivery radius for transport-sensitive gases to the northern and eastern sections of Germany.

Messer is constructing a production facility on the grounds of Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH, which will begin producing gases for the region in late summer 2010. The company plans to invest over €80m in Germany alone.

Switzerland

The first production facility for air gases in Switzerland was opened according to plan in July 2009.

Messer has invested around €20m in this facility, which is located on the grounds of Lonza AG, a worldwide leading producer of chemical and biotech agents and products for the life sciences industry.

Messer will produce industrial gases and medical oxygen; a portion of the gases will be liquefied and transported to neighbouring Italy by rail for delivery to Messer Group customers in the northern part of the country.

Lonza has been contracted by Messer to oversee the operation of the air separation unit.

Spain

On 30th October 2009, Messer opened a new bottling facility for technical gases in San Isidro in the province of Alicante.

The industrial gas specialists at Messer have been active in Spain for almost 40 years, and this €2m investment is intended to meet rising demand for bottled gases in production facilities along the eastern coast, in Andalucia and in the country’s interior.

Like the facility operated by Messer in Tarragona, Catalonia, this bottling facility utilises advanced 300 bar technology. This high filling pressure allows for a 50% higher filling capacity for gas cylinders with no change in cylinder size. Because of this, it is possible to realise significant savings in transport, storage and handling of the cylinders.

The Messer subsidiary in Spain is headquartered at the Tarragona industrial complex, where it operates two ASUs with a dedicated 90km pipeline network supplying the chief chemical and petrochemical companies in the area.

The second production facility for air gases was put into operation by Messer in Catalonia this year.

Nitrogen, oxygen and argon gases, which are among others bottled in San Isidro, are produced in Tarragona, delivered by tanker truck and stored in gas tanks in liquid form to be subsequently vaporised for bottling in a gaseous state.

Belgium

In Zwijndrecht near Antwerp, Messer is constructing a new liquefaction facility with a production capacity of 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, at the British company Ineos Oxide.

For this purpose Messer has formed a joint venture named bECO2 with the Belgian company IJsfabriek Strombeek.

Messer holds a 70% share, and is investing €15m in the facility, which will begin operation in the first quarter of 2010.

Messer will use two-thirds of the total capacity of this facility to supply carbonic acid, dry ice and carbon dioxide in gaseous and liquid form to customers in industries such as foodstuffs, beverages, manufacturing and water. IJsfabriek Strombeek will make use of the remaining 30% capacity.

Messer France also operates a similar facility on the grounds of Ineos Oxide in Lavéra, France. The company is already the leading supplier in the rapidly growing Belgian carbon dioxide market, and the third largest supplier in the Benelux countries.

A bottling facility has been constructed in Antwerp for technical gases. By the end of 2010, all employees at the current headquarters of the Belgian subsidiary in Machelen will be transferred to Antwerp.

France

In the French city of Saint Herblain near Nantes in Brittany, Linde and Messer have together invested more than €23m in an ASU, which will officially begin operation in December.

One key area of use for the air separation unit will be the extraction of high purity oxygen for laser applications, in addition to nitrogen, which satisfies all quality and legal requirements for use in the foodstuffs industry.

Many of the production facilities located in the west of France will profit from this air gas production source, which will represent a significant contribution towards the reliable supply of industrial gases in the region.