SSI Redcar, the steel plant in Teeside, has been mothballed – spelling the loss of 1,700 jobs.

The news is significant to the industrial gases sector as just under three months ago, SSI signed a 15-year supply agreement with BOC – heralded as the UK’s largest ever deal.

To support the contract, BOC invested £25m in its Teesside site.

The two-year investment programme is now complete and includes an upgrade and expansion of the three existing Air Separation Units (ASUs) which supply oxygen, nitrogen and argon, and re-engineering the existing pipeline systems to SSI UK’s site. Specialist control equipment has also been designed and built for SSI UK’s blast furnace.

Though the upgrades and investment carried out in the area were part of the SSI deal, BOC’s Middlebrough site is a “key location” for industrial gases in the region.

A statement from BOC says, “Following today’s announcement regarding the SSI steel plant in Middlesbrough, BOC would like to express its deep sadness at this news. BOC has worked with SSI at Middlesbrough for almost five years and has recently undertaken a two-year investment programme at its Middlesbrough site in support of its long-term commitment to supply SSI.”

“We recognise the immense challenges that have forced SSI to come to this sad decision. We are continuing to supply SSI with gases for all health and safety requirements.”

“BOC has been a major supplier to the UK’s steel industry for more than 40 years and a significant presence in Teesside for more than 60 years. We supply a wide range of customers across the manufacturing and healthcare sectors.”