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Air Products focuses on two China projects

South China Morning Post – Dec. 17, 2011

Investment programme will take advantage of Beijing’s efforts to enhance energy efficiency

Air Products and Chemicals, the United States industrial gases group, will keep its focus on China as it starts two mega projects in the high-growth market.

Steve Jones, president of Air Products’ China, said Beijing’s efforts to enhance energy efficiency would benefit the company’s expansion and reinforce its plan to increase investment.

The company plans to invest about US$800 million in Asia in the current financial year to October next year and most of the capital will be spent on the mainland.

“China is a big piece of the global industrial gas growth worldwide,” Jones said. “We expect to get a fair share.”

In eastern Anhui province, Air Products will build an on-site ammonia plant to supply Anhui Sanan OptoElectronics’ light emitting diode factory.

The company will also set up an on-site air separation unit in central Shaanxi province after signing a supply contract with Shaanxi Future Energy Chemical.

Air Products would not reveal investment figures for each project, but said that both were the largest of their kind worldwide.

Air Products, which has more than 40 subsidiaries and 50 production facilities on the mainland, predicted China’s demand for industrial gas would grow 19 per cent annually between 2011 and 2015, more than double the projected annual growth of 9 per cent worldwide.

By 2015, the mainland’s industrial gas market is expected to account for 11 per cent of the world’s US$96 billion market, the company said.

Air Products, along with rivals such as Linde Gas and Praxair, supplies industrial gases and processing equipment to mainland companies.

Industrial gases – including oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen – are widely used in sectors ranging from petrochemicals and steelmaking to electronics.

China’s 2009 pledge of cutting carbon emissions by up to 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020, provides opportunities for Air Products, Jones said.

By using quality industrial gases in the steelmaking and glassmaking sectors, the producers could reduce energy consumption and emissions.

Jones said Air Products hopes to “grow in excess of” the already hefty 19 per cent increase in China’s forecast needs.

The company’s clients include mainland giants such as PetroChina (SEHK: 0857announcementsnews) and China National Offshore Oil Corp.

“We will continue to leverage our leading technologies, excellent reliability and safety records to support the growing markets,” Jones said.

He added that the only difficulty Air Products faced in China was the shortage of local talent needed to support the company’s expansion plans.

Steve Jones

Steve Jones

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