Investment of world-scale hydrogen unit to serve Rotterdam/Antwerp basin

June 25, 2008

The Rotterdam/Antwerp (the Netherlands-Belgium) basin is the largest chemical and petrochemical basin in Europe, representing 12% of the entire European refining capacity. Air Liquide has invested over €800 million in this basin in the last 12 years.

The hydrogen market in this basin continues to witness sustained growth of +20% per year. The chemical and refining industries have made sustainable development their priority and are investing in environmental friendly processes and products.

In Rotterdam, Air Liquide has just won a long-term contract to supply hydrogen to Neste Oil’s Renewable Diesel plant. To meet the industrial gas requirements of Neste Oil, Air Liquide is investing in a new world-scale hydrogen production unit (Steam Methane Reformer - SMR) with a production capacity of 130,000 m³/hour. This represents an increase of more than 30% of its existing hydrogen production capacity in the basin. This unit is due to start up in 2011. Group investment amounts €160 million.

This new SMR unit will be designed and built by Lurgi teams who joined the Group in 2007. This project is the result of the new synergies developed within the Engineering and Construction division of the Group.

As well as the supply to the new Neste Oil plant in Rotterdam, the unit will be connected to Air Liquide’s Northern European hydrogen network which currently includes eight hydrogen units in operation and more than 900 km of pipeline, thus providing very high reliability to its customers. This unit will allow the Group to meet the increasing needs of the customers of the basin.

Air Liquide has increased its worldwide production capacity of hydrogen by more than 50 percent over the past three years. The Group is now operating 200 hydrogen units worldwide, of which 40 are large units, and operates the leading hydrogen network in the world with more than 1,800 km of pipeline globally.

Guy Salzgeber, member of Air Liquide’s Executive Committee, Vice-President for European Operations, declared: “With this new world scale investment in hydrogen and the developments planned for the hydrogen distribution network, Air Liquide will offer to all its petrochemical and refining sector customers in the Rotterdam/Antwerp basin a unique combination of production capacity, cost competitiveness and reliability. The Group thereby allows them to improve the efficiency of their processes and to assume their environmental responsibilities."