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 Middle East and Africa region.
A new TechnipFMC hydrogen plant is expected to come on-stream with a grassroots refinery in Izmir, Aliaga (Turkey) in 2018. TechnipFMC was awarded the lump sum contract to supply its proprietary technology, detailed engineering and procurement services for a reformer for a hydrogen plant back in November 2015, by the STAR Aegean Refinery.
The reformer at the heart of a hydrogen plant will produce 160,000 Nm3/h of hydrogen product and high quality export steam to be used by the refinery.
One of the biggest projects in the global industrial gases business today could be set to come on-stream this year, in Jazan, Saudi Arabia.
The world’s largest industrial gas complex – built, owned and operated by Air Products and ACWA Holding, as a joint venture (JV) – will supply a total of 75,000 metric tons per day of industrial gas, 20,000 oxygen and 55,000 nitrogen to Saudi Aramco’s refinery also being built in Jazan, and is anticipated for start-up in late 2018 or early 2019. As of recent months, the project was understood to be on-track.
Once built, the facility will be owned by a JV of Air Products (25%) and ACWA Holding (75%), will require 500mW to operate, and will consist of six trains.
Qatari helium supply hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2017, due to the temporary shortage of supply at the hands of the Qatar embargo. The situation took the global helium business by surprise and highlighted the fragile nature of the supply chain. But it also threw the spotlight on the importance of Qatari helium product to the global market, especially as the clock ticks down to the closure of the BLM-operated Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo, Texas (US).
Qatari helium will be in the headlines again in 2018, but for the right reasons as the upcoming Qatar III helium plant (Helium 3) is expected to become operational early in the year. located in Ras Laffan Industrial City, home to the existing Helium 1 and 2 plants. The facility will go on to produce up to 0.4 billion standard cubic feet of liquid helium per annum.
Though understood to be smaller in size than the original Qatar 1 plant, the Qatar III plant will provide a considerable boost to the global helium market in the future and has long been the source of speculation concerning its start date and expected capacity. Air Products was awarded the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the long-term helium supply from Helium 3, as well as the Technology License to supply the helium licensor package equipment for the new plant.
Helium One and at least one other company are in the early stages of exploring for helium in the Lake Rukwa area, a quest that will continue in the year ahead.
Helium One has completed the acquisition of extensive airborne geophysical data, with the preliminary grids expected received in mid-2017. In parallel with this and to complement that data, after successful analysis of the soil micro-seepage survey completed in 2016, a further, more detailed soil geochemistry survey was expected to commence in the third quarter of 2017.
So far Helium One has collected and analysed almost 1,500 soil samples for helium, carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen, nitrogen and hydrocarbons in the most advanced project in the Rukwa licence area. The work programme undertaken in 2017 was intended to identify drillable prospects as soon as practical, with drilling planned for 2018.
Virginia, Free State province, South Africa
With proven reserves of 25 billion cubic feet of both natural gas and helium, the field boasts a high concentration of the latter – up to 3-4% by volume. Set to commence operations in 2018, gasworld estimates a capacity of 100-150 million standard cubic feet per year.
All projects, timelines and capacities correct at the time of writing and according to original press releases.