South Africa: Air Liquide starts up the world’s largest oxygen production unit

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Air Liquide recently started the world’s largest oxygen production unit for Sasol, an international integrated energy and chemicals company. Air Liquide invested around €200 million1 for the construction of this Air Separation Unit (ASU) in Secunda, with a total production capacity of 5,000 tonnes of oxygen per day (equivalent to 5,800 tonnes per day at sea level). Owned and operated by Air Liquide, it is the first ASU that Sasol has chosen to outsource to a specialist of industrial gas production at this site.

Located in Sasol’s Secunda site (around 140 km East of Johannesburg), the new ASU supplies Sasol with large quantities of oxygen used for production of fuels and chemicals.

The start-up of the air separation unit represents a new milestone in the partnership between Air Liquide and Sasol which brings to 17 the number of ASU’s delivered by Air Liquide over the last 40 years, with a total oxygen production capacity greater than 45,000 tonnes per day. It is also the first time ever at Secunda, that Sasol has chosen to outsource an oxygen supply contract, thus recognizing Air Liquide’s expertise in the field of oxygen production and underscoring the importance of this long-term relationship.

The unit was designed and built by Air Liquide’s Engineering & Construction team using leading edge technologies that meet the highest standards of safety, reliability and efficiency, while increasing production capacity. The ASU's design is based on Air Liquide’s proprietary technologies including several first of its kind innovations in the air compression process, which allow for an annual electricity consumption reduction of more than 20%, contributing to reducing the customer’s carbon footprint.

As scheduled, the new ASU has been completed in less than three years from design to commissioning. This ASU also provides Air Liquide with a new source of liquid gases to supply the growing industrial gas market in South Africa.

François Jackow, member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee, supervising Middle East and Africa: “We are proud to be consolidating a strategic partnership built on trust and long-term commitment with Sasol. This project illustrates Air Liquide’s capability to manage very large innovative projects. This new unit sees, for the first time, Sasol outsource its oxygen needs at its Secunda site, confirming our leadership in oxygen production technology as well as our commitment to contribute to South Africa’s economic and social development.”

Bernard Klingenberg, Sasol’s Executive Vice President, Operations: “The successful start-up of this world class ASU unit cements Sasol’s long-standing strategic partnership with Air Liquide, bringing first rate oxygen supply expertise and long-term reliability to our Secunda operations. Furthermore, this important milestone ensures that our integrated Southern African value chain provides a robust platform for Sasol’s long-term growth and sustained contributions to the country’s economy”.

Air Liquide in South Africa
Air Liquide supplies industrial and specialty gases to the steel, automotive & fabrication, food & beverage, mining, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and glass industries. It also supplies medical gases through a network of many state and private hospitals as well as solutions and services to home based patients. Air Liquide production facilities are situated in the three main industrial hubs of South Africa, in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern and Western Cape with over 20 national branches strategically located to serve its customers. Air Liquide currently employs around 800 people in South Africa. It is committed to supporting local development, in particular in assisting and educating surrounding communities close to its sites.

About Sasol
Sasol is an international integrated chemicals and energy company that leverages technologies and the expertise of our 30,300 people working in 33 countries. Sasol develops and commercializes technologies, and builds and operates world-scale facilities to produce a range of high-value product stream, including liquid fuels, chemicals and low-carbon electricity

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