The demand for argon gas experienced a meteoric increase throughout 2007 which has continued to grow across Europe, driven by the steel industry, general manufacturing and also by the emerging market of solar panel manufacture, and is causing direct consequences for the industry in the near future.
The Linde Gases Division rose to the challenge by leveraging the whole of its enlarged European production and distribution network to satisfy customer's argon gas demands and subsequently avoiding supply disruption. As 2008gets firmly underway however, a further increase of demand for argon gas is predicted throughout Europe and Linde has resolved to maximise argon gas production at all of its facilities. This though, naturally comes at a cost.
The consequences of argon lead operation are significantly higher energy cost and increased distribution cost, associated with transporting the gas from more remote production facilities to customer's locations. Despite continuously working to improve Linde's supply chain efficiency, it has become inevitable to increase prices for all gases and particularly argon-based products across Europe during the first quarter of 2008.
To alleviate supply side pressure, the Gases Division of The Linde Group has already announced new investments for future argon gas production which will start-up in the coming 3 years, and will continue to search for further investment opportunities.