Messer Romania Gaz was established in 1998, the first of three companies the group now has in the country.

Since entering Romania, Messer has established a further two companies in the region, Messer Magnicom Gaz and Messer Energo Gaz.

The group of companies’ head office is located in Bucharest, with other locations in Deva and R. Valcea responsible for the production and filling of acetylene and air gases.

According to Spiritus Consulting, in 2008 Messer had an 8.2% market share in the region, valued at €10.5m in bulk sales, and €6.2m in cylinder sales.

Messer’s latest investment in the region is a new air separation unit (ASU) in Resita, which will service TMK – a local steel manufacturer, as well as supply liquefied gases to the Romanian market.

When gasworld spoke to CEO Stefan Messer, back in March this year, he explained the reasoning behind the investment in ASUs in several countries, including Romania. He said, “We were quite dependent on our competitors before – Poland for example, and some other countries where we were only a wholesaler or distributor, so we decided to build 10 new plants in Europe.”

“Up to 2010, we will have spent about €400m over three years to construct them; we have one in Spain, in France, where we have a joint venture with Linde, two in Germany, one in Romania, Bosnia – Herzegovina, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and then we have two pending projects in Lativia and in Ukraine.”

The financial crisis has hit steel manufacturers the world over, very hard, and this has had a knock on effect on the industrial gas industry.

Romania is no exception; steel manufacturers in the region have taken a substantial hit. Therefore, given that Messer’s Resita ASU will predominantly serve the steel industry, gasworld wanted to find out how things are progressing.

Gasworld spoke to Paula Mocanu, who is responsible for communications at Messer Romania’s Bucharest headquarters. She answered questions on behalf of the Managing Director.

What are your main activities in Romania?
Our field of activity comprises the production and trading of industrial, medicinal and special gases, including oxygen, nitrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, acetylene, gas mixtures and special gases.

Our activities vary from the operation of air separation factories, to storage and transportation of gases to the customers. These services can be provided by means of pipe networks, truck cisterns, batteries, bottles, or on-site systems of gas delivery.

From metallurgy to food processing, from microelectronics to medicine, from chemistry to environmental protection, the competence of the Messer Group covers the entire range of gas application in industry, technology, research and medicine.

Has the ASU in Resita come on-stream yet?
The air separation unit from Resita is in the last step before coming on stream in November.

All the equipment and installations are in position and it follows the last phase – the installation phase is finished and the checking and commissioning process has started.

The inter-company collaboration in the Messer Group is an important key to our success – to specialise and train new people for our continuous growth.

The training of the operators was supported by practical training at our ASU site in Serbia. Collaboration from Messer companies is running very well, our colleagues are being trained at our other ASU in South Eastern Europe.

Are there plans for any other ASUs or pipeline supplies in the country?
Part of the Messer Group’s strategy is to ensure an independent and dependable supply of gas for all customers. At the same time, free product capacities are to be used to help expand the liquefied gas business with existent customers and gain new ones.

For this alone, the Messer Group intends to invest approximately €700m from 2007 to 2010. In South Eastern Europe, just as in Western Europe, the air separation units are rising one after another, Poland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania and Turkey.

We keep the same policy in Romania and are looking new opportunities of developing the business.

How has the financial crisis affected Messer’s activities in this area? Has the steel and manufacturing industries’ turmoil had an effect on gas consumption?
Generally, the steel industry in Romania has reduced orders, but in some cases new technologies are implemented to increase the efficiency, which results in higher specific gas consumption.

Messer in Romania has key strengths in order to pass through the crisis; we have very high customer satisfaction and long lasting customer relations, the management team has worked together for a long time, we have a strong market and customer understanding, and there is early lobbying for customers in the projects phase.

What growth industries are there in the region, in terms of industrial gas?
In Romania a wide range of industries have developed.
Messer Romania has customers from all sectors, from metallurgy to the food industry, the chemist industry to furniture, and from state property companies to the private sector.

The most developed industries in Romania are metallurgy, metal manufacturing, automotive, refining, and the coal industry on the one hand, and the food and furniture industries on the other.

Due to the world crisis, most companies are trying to adapt to the conditions and look for new markets, like Asia, Middle East, former Russian republics and even the western market.

In closing, it seems positivity is an integral part of the Messer psyche; despite tough conditions – especially in the steel industry – Messer Romania is still powering ahead with its projects, with ambitious plans for the future.