Air Liquide in 450-million-dollar Saudi investment

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The world's leading industrial gas group, Air Liquide of France, said Monday it would commit 450 million dollars to build two two hydrogen production units in Saudi Arabia, the largest single investment project in the company's history.

The units will be part of a refinery being built by the Saudi Aramco group in Yanbu Industrial City, on Saudi Arabia's west coast. The new refinery would be able to process 400,000 barrels of oil a day when completed in 2014.

Air Liquide senior vice president Pierre Dufour said the hydrogen project, worth 350 million euros, "reinforces our strategy and growing presence in the Middle East, where we continue to develop our industrial gas infrastructure in support of the evolving energy sector."

In the first half of this year the Middle East and Africa accounted for 2.0 percent of sales generated by Air Liquide's 5.7-billion-euro gas and services business, which itself accounts for 90 percent of the company's revenues.

In addition to Saudi Arabia the group has operations in Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

Air Liquide said it plans to invest a billion dollars in the Middle East over the next five years. Investment in the region came to 500 million dollars in 2002-2009.

© 2010 AFP

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