As part of its triumphant re-entry into the German market, The Messer Group has officially launched the construction of a second major production plant for industrial gases in the country.

Following the company’s recent announcement that it is investing €35m in the construction of a production unit on the Deutsche Edelstahlwerke site in Siegen, yesterday Messer laid a foundation stone to officially launch a second project in Salzgitter, Germany.

The family firm is investing around €50m in an air separation unit for the production of oxygen, nitrogen and argon, on the site of Salzgitter Flachstahl, a company owned by Salzgitter AG.

The air separation unit will feed up to 28,000 standard cubic metres of gaseous oxygen per hour into the distribution network of Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH.

Through a long-distance oxygen pipeline from Salzgitter to Peine, Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH is establishing a joint supply with Peiner Träger GmbH, also owned by Salzgitter AG.

Messer has the option of delivering up to 40,000 standard cubic metres of gaseous nitrogen per hour to the company as well, and will also produce oxygen, nitrogen and argon in liquid form, to serve the local market.

With long-term projects (the contract runs for a period of 15 years), the largest privately managed industrial gas manufacturer is defying the economic crisis.

The symbolic act of laying the foundation stone underscores the long-term nature of the project; the latest daily newspapers from the region, a complete set of currency and a copy of the contract between Messer and Salzgitter were buried in a time capsule in the foundation stone.

The plant is expected to begin operation in October.