Air Products South Africa today unveiled its R300-million Eastern Cape air separation unit (ASU) in the Coega Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), declaring that it had delivered on its promise to be the first industrial gas company to supply the Eastern Cape from the newly constructed and commissioned ASU.
The state-of-the-art, energy-efficient facility is the first of its kind to be commissioned in the Eastern Cape and is the sixteenth ASU to be commissioned countrywide by Air Products South Africa.
The Coega ASU is the second to be launched by Air Products in South Africa this year, and forms part of its long-term capital investment pipeline of R2 billion. The investment pipeline is aimed at establishing a solid national gas production and supply footprint.
“We committed to supply gas to our Eastern Cape customers by the fourth quarter of 2014. We are actually ahead, with the plant already commissioned in September. We are therefore successfully providing a stable and secure supply of industrial gases to the region,” Air Products General Manager: Central Services, Josua le Roux said.
The newly-commissioned facility will produce 110 tonnes per day of liquid nitrogen and oxygen, with the capacity to scale up production in line with market demand. It supplies industrial gases for a wide range of applications – from welding to freezing – to diverse sectors in the region, including the automotive, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, agro-processing, food and beverage industries.
Air Products had made a strategic decision to invest in the Coega IDZ based on thorough market analysis, which showed increasing demand for gas across the industrial spectrum in the Eastern Cape, along with promising economic growth.
According to Le Roux, the availability of a secure supply of industrial gas, which no longer has to be trucked in over long distances from outside the province, strengthens the Eastern Cape’s industrial infrastructure and its attractiveness as an investment destination of choice.
“Security of industrial gas supply further supports business sustainability and competitiveness, by enhancing the region’s supply chain network – which in turn opens the door to further industrial growth, investment and job creation throughout the entire value chain,” he said.
As the largest supplier in the on-site and pipeline markets in Southern Africa, Air Products has been at the forefront of air separation technology innovation over the past 15 years.
The Coega ASU incorporates the latest advances in order to deliver optimal energy efficiency and maximum product output capacity, at a reasonable cost of production.
Le Roux further commented that whilst the Coega facility formed part of a national strategy and footprint, the company had focused strongly on local skills in design, construction and installation.
“All construction work was performed by local contractors, and the bulk of the engineering and design work was awarded to local consultants. Going forward, we will use companies from this region as far as possible in the ongoing operation and maintenance of the plant,” he said.
Le Roux said the on-schedule completion and commissioning of the facility was the result of in-house project management expertise and a pool of professionals and contractors who worked hand-in-hand with us to ensure delivery on time, safely and without incident.
“With the ASU completed and commissioned, and gas now flowing, the real next step is to focus on building relationships with our customers through ‘service that delivers the difference’,” Le Roux added.
The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) has welcomed Air Products as the 29th operational investor in the IDZ.
“It has been a momentous occasion to witness gas flowing from the Air Products ASU in our IDZ. The CDC is always proud when investment in the Coega IDZ becomes tangible, as this has a direct impact on the socio-economic development of the city and Eastern Cape province. We can now look forward to many other positive spin-offs from the newly-launched Air Products ASU,” said Christopher Mashigo, CDC Business Development Executive Manager, calling the facility an “Industrial Sculpture”.
Mashigo further commented: “Security of gas supply to our investors and manufacturers in the Eastern Cape will enable uninterrupted production and manufacturing, which is critical for the growth of the local economy. Air Products’ investment will ensure ongoing and sustainable industrial development.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber president Mandla Madwara welcomed the Air Products’ launch as a “clear indication of their confidence in the Eastern Cape market”.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber salutes companies which pursue strategic investments not only to support their customers, but to support and develop Nelson Mandela Bay’s own potential for growth.”
“Air Products provides a key enabling service to industry through security of industrial gas supply. This investment can only have a positive impact on the economic growth of this region,” he added.
Madwara further commented: “Air Products is to be congratulated for reaching this significant milestone. We are pleased to welcome this pivotal national company to Nelson Mandela Bay as a valued Business Chamber member.”
Le Roux concluded by saying: “We believe that through this investment we have not only proven our commitment to our customers in the Eastern Cape, but have also established our gas as being pivotal to industrial processes and manufacturing.”
“In summary, the quality of our technology, coupled with our long-term security of supply – will make a positive contribution to the economic growth of the region for many years to come.”
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