A recent market research report suggests that the UAE steel industry is expected to grow by more than 200% by 2012, with oxygen consumption and industrial gas demand potentially set to prosper as a result.

The UAE is one of the most promising steel markets in the GCC region, where production reached 1.7 million tonnes in 2006, and the UAE Steel Industry Analysis estimates growth of around 235% in the region over the next four years.

A construction boom, cheap and reliable gas and energy supply besides geographical positioning are the major driving forces for the steel industry in the UAE.

Steel consumption in the UAE is highly influenced by the boom in construction and infrastructure development. The value of construction contracts awarded by the end of 2007 is estimated at $32.8bn when compared to $16.1bn at the end of 2005.

A huge capacity expansion in said to be in the pipeline, which will result in economies of scale for steel producers in the country. The report added that economic growth and energy resources (oil and gas) are also helping the UAE steel industry to grow rapidly.

The recent boom in the oil and gas exploration and production industry has boosted demand for steel tubular products.

Oxygen is the key gas used in metals manufacturing processes, and is added by means of oxygen enrichment, injection or oxy-fuel burners, while also helping to reduce energy costs and increase efficiencies.

There are two main processes for steel making, these being the basic oxygen furnace (BOF) and the electric arc furnace (EAF), with the combination of high energy prices, more stringent environmental legislation, and a growing demand ensuring the metals industry is an excellent market for gas suppliers.

The recent report which anticipates growth of over 200% in the UAE, focuses on the growing marketplace for the steel sector in the UAE and thoroughly studies market trends, evolving markets, and growth prospects.

The report says total steel production in the region reached 15.65 million tonnes in 2006, while that in the UAE touched 1.7 million tonnes and is expected to grow 235% by 2012.