France’s Air Liquide to Invest in Russia

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Oct. 11 – France-based Air Liquide Group, a world leader in industrial gas and services, announced the signing of a long-term agreement with RusVinyl – a joint venture between a leading Russian chemical company Sibur and the Belgian polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer SolVin.

According to the company’s press realize, Air Liquide will supply oxygen, nitrogen and compressed dry air to RusVinyl’s new PVC plant being built in Nizhny Novgorod region.

The plant will be located in the town of Kstovo, 30 kilometers southeast of Nizhny Novgorod, and will produce 350 tons of oxygen per day. The plant is scheduled to start-up at the end of 2012.

“The company’s total investment in Russia might reach one billion euros by the end of 2015,” Benoit Potier, chief executive and chairman of Air Liquide, said to Russian daily Vedomosti.

According to him, the company has invested a total of 150 million euros in Russia in the past five years and plans to invest another 150 million euros by the end of this year.

“I personally consider Russia as a very interesting market for us. The time for investment is good. We are investing in Russia for the long term,” he said.

The Russian industrial gases market has been growing annually by 5 percent and is expected to develop strongly over the next decade. PVC consumption in the country represents around one million tons per year, part of which still needs to be imported.

Potier said signing a supply agreement with RusVinyl was “a very important new step” after the company’s deal with Severstal. Air Liquide, which launched an air separation unit at Severstal’s steel mill in Cherepovets in 2007, signed an agreement with the company in July 2010 to build another similar unit at the plant.

The Air Liquide is looking to take up more than 20 percent of the Russian industrial gases market, Potier said.

Russia’s industrial gas market, which had moderate growth until 2009, is likely to grow by 15 percent to 20 percent this year, said Konstantin Yuminov, an oil and gas analyst at Rye, Man & Gor Securities.

“It’s the right time to come to the market, because the market is young and the number of competitors is small,” he said to The Moscow Times.

Air Liquide Russia has been based in Moscow since 1989 and was primarily concerned with the sale of industrial gas production equipment in Russia and Ukraine.

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