Middle East: US$200 million investments coming to fruition

July 30, 2008

Middle Eastern countries have double digit rates of GDP growth, leading to growth in the industrial gas market exceeding +20% per year. Industrial markets in the zone, such as petrochemicals, chemicals, metals and food, require increasing quantities of industrial gases.

Air Liquide announces that the development of its business in the Middle East is accelerating, as investments totaling around US$200 million are coming to fruition.

Shuaiba Oxygen, Air Liquide's subsidiary in Kuwait (a partnership with Kuwait Cryo) has supplied since the start of July, the new petrochemicals plant Equate (co-owned by the group Dow and the Kuwaiti company Petrochemical Industries Company - P.I.C.) with oxygen, nitrogen and compressed air. This new air separation unit near Kuwait City, has production capacity of 1,500 tonnes of oxygen per day.

GASAL, Air Liquide’s subsidiary in Qatar (a partnership with Qatar Petroleum and QIMCO) has just commissioned two new air separation units. The Mesaieed unit (40 km south of Doha), commissioned last April, supplies the Qatar Steel Company (QASCO), a leading steel producer in the Middle-East, with oxygen and nitrogen. This unit also supplies five other customers in the industrial basin, through GASAL’s pipeline system.

The second air separation unit, commissioned early July in the industrial basin of Ras Laffan, supplies nitrogen to the Ras Laffan Olefins Company (RLOC), a subsidiary of Qatar Petroleum, Chevron-Phillips and the Total group.

Air Liquide Egypt has just commissioned a new carbon dioxide production unit in Aboukir, to serve the food and soft drinks markets, currently undergoing strong development. This is a new step in the industrial development of the Group which has been present in Egypt since 2002, meeting the growing gas needs of industrial customers.

Air Liquide Sohar Industrial Gases (ALSIG), Air Liquide’s subsidiary in the Sultanate of Oman (a partnership with Oman Refinery Company, Mohsin Haider Darwish and Omzest) will begin supply nitrogen to AOL (Oman Aromatics) in October 2008. The new air separation unit, located in the port of Sohar, will double current production capacity of the Group in the Sultanate of Oman.

The argon production from Shuaiba Oxygen, the acquisition of the Pure Helium company and the liquid sourcing available from the new projects provide ALMENA (Air Liquide’s Merchant subsidiary in the region) with rapidly expanding industrial merchant sales in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other countries throughout the Gulf, in particular to the welding and construction markets.

Pierre Dufour, Senior Executive Vice-President of the Air Liquide Group, responsible for the Middle East zone, declared: "We are delighted that so many projects are coming to fruition in the Middle East, which enable us to be present in most of the markets in this zone. The Group is keen to meet the growing needs of its customers, in particular in the main industrial basins. These investments are carried by the trend for outsourcing industrial gas needs and are in line with Group growth strategy, which is to invest over one billion dollars in the Middle East in the coming five years."