From the very first month of the year, 2017 proved to be a strong year for the industrial gases industry – full of project announcements, capacity investments, and breaking M&A news from around the globe.

Indeed, mergers and acquisitions activity continued to surprise in 2017 (think Pentair’s acquisition of Union Engineering or Nikkiso’s purchase of Cryogenic Industries), while one story in particular dominated headlines throughout the year – the proposed merger of Praxair and Linde.

Just as Praxair-Linde proceeded to unfold throughout the year, so too did a positive streak running through the financials of the industry’s major players, all of which appeared to point to a tempered confidence in the industry’s growth prospects for the year ahead – and perhaps the most positive year yet for the industry since its gradual recovery from the financial crisis of 2008/9.

This positivity is widely expected to continue into 2018 – assuming major external headwinds do not become a factor in the industry’s growth – along with further capacity expansions and plant additions, particularly in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market. As we look ahead to the year ahead, here are some of gasworld’s highlights of global project developments in the next 12 months.

Here you can find gasworld’s edited highlights, in the Americas region.

US

A new ASU could be brought on-stream in Lake Charles, Louisiana in 2018, under MATHESON’s supply agreement with Lotte Chemical Louisiana LLC for the latter’s world-scale monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant.

The resulting ASU will become MATHESON’s fourth in the Lake Charles region in the span of just four years and part of its southern US coast-to-coast atmospheric gas network.

Staying in Louisiana, and fellor Tier One company Praxair is also set to increase capacity in the region in the year ahead, having invested in excess of $100m in its Geismar facility to expand its carbon monoxide production (CO) capabilities. Under the funding, the company will add a new, purification train capable of producing 13 million standard cubic feet of CO per day. The modernisation also includes a CO cold box and various other upgrades, which are expected to be completed in the second half of 2018.

Air Products expects to commission an ASU in New Johnsonville, Tennessee in third quarter 2018, under a contract to supply American chemical corporation Chemours Company FC, LLC with tonnage quantities of oxygen, nitrogen and argon. Chemours will be supplied with these air gases, as well as compressed air and breathing air for its titanium dioxide (TiO2) production facility.

Specialty gas supplier Gas Innovations begins high volume manufacturing of hydrogen chloride (HCL) in first quarter 2018, having committed to expanding its production of electronics grades of HCL last year with the formation of eHCI Innovations Inc.

eHCL Innovations has developed proprietary purification technology that takes industrial grade aHCL (anhydrous grade HCl) and purifies it to the highest purification levels required in any industry. The purification of HCI will occur at the company’s recently expanded facility in La Porte, Texas (US), with commissioning of the new technology cited for fourth quarter 2017 and industry qualification immediately thereafter. High volume manufacturing begins with the first train in first quarter 2018.

us plains nebraska lincoln copyright dmitry kaminsky

Source: dmitry kaminsky

When 2018 begins to draw to a close, MATHESON will bring a new ASU online at Nucor Corporation’s mini-mill steel facility in Norfolk, Nebraska. MATHESON will supply Nucor with tonnage oxygen, nitrogen and argon and the new ASU will augment existing packaged gas and bulk operations in the states of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and Kansas. The ASU complex in Norfolk is scheduled for completion in December 2018, and will be constructed, owned and operated by MATHESON.

Air Products will unveil a new world-scale steam methane reformer (SMR) and cold box in Baytown, Texas in 2018, to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO) to be supplied to customers from Air Products’ Gulf Coast Hydrogen and CO Pipeline Networks. Both product capacities from the new facility are already sold-out ahead of the anticipated on-stream date next year.

The SMR and cold box – which Air Products has invested $350-$400m in building, owning and operating – will produce approximately 125 million standard cubic feet per day of hydrogen and a world-scale supply of carbon monoxide.

New York map

Glenmont, New York will be home to a new large-scale air separation unit (ASU) and industrial gas liquefier by December 2018, the product of a joint venture (JV) between Air Products and Linde North America, Inc. The 50:50 JV, named East Coast Nitrogen (ECN), is building the 1,100 tonnes per day facility in under an initial capital investment of $60m. It will be situated at Air Products’ existing site in New York, will boost merchant liquid production capabilities, and increase industrial gas capacity for regional customers in the Northeast.

And finally in the US, it’s understood from gasworld Business Intelligence that Vernon, California will welcome a new merchant ASU on-stream in 2018, a MATHESON (TNSC) plant to provide gases for various end-user markets in the region.

argentina map copyright victor maschek

Source: victor maschek

Argentina

Air Liquide welcomes a new hydrogen production plant on-stream in Campana, Argentina in the second half of 2018 as part of an expanded long-term supply to the country’s leading refiner, Axion Energy Argentina.

Under a €55m ($60.4m) investment, the Tier One player will build a second steam methane reformer (SMR) for the company, which will raise the hydrogen production capacity of the site to 37,400 Nm3 per hour and will help meet Axion’s increased needs for its refinery processes, supporting its recent investments to expand operations in the South American country.