Air Liquide : Qatar: Start-up of World’s Largest Helium Unit
PARIS -- July 8, 2013
Air Liquide (Paris:AI) recently started up the world’s largest helium
purification and liquefaction unit, a turnkey project at Ras Laffan Industrial
City, Qatar. The new unit’s production capacity is approximately 38 million
cubic meters of helium per year. The high technologies AirLiquide uses to
purify and liquefy helium at a very low temperature (-269°C) are proprietary.
The liquefaction equipment is the world’s largest, measuring 20 metres long
and more than 8 metres high. This helium liquefier is operated by RasGas.
The combined production capacity of this new unit and the existing unit on
this site will be approximately 58millioncubic meters per year, making Qatar
the world’s second largest producer of helium with 25% of current global
Under a long-term agreement with RasGas and Qatargas, Air Liquide will
purchase 50% of the helium volumes produced by this new unit and the existing
one. Access to this major helium source will position the Group as one of the
main players in the worldwide helium market.
This start-up marks the next step toward helium market stability. World demand
for helium has remained robust in the last ten years, while helium is scarce
worldwide. Helium plays a critical role in a wide array of products. Key uses
include MRI scanners, semiconductors, fiber optic cable, space exploration,
scientific research, air-bag production and professional hyperbaric diving.
Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi, RasGas Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of
Qatar Petroleum (QP) said, “The Helium 2 plant, which broke ground in May
2010, is the second helium project to be built in Qatar, and we are very
pleased to report that in over 5 million man hours worked to complete this
project, we have maintained a lost time incident rate (LTIR) of zero.
Achieving such a remarkable milestone is a clear testimony
toRasGas’commitmentto creating and maintaining a safe work environment in a
complex construction project that involved thousands of contractors and
François Darchis, Senior Vice-President, Air Liquide Group, and a member of
the Executive Committee, commented: “I would like to thank RasGas for its
trust, as well as the many dedicated people who have inspired and contributed
to the technological prowess required to bring this helium production project
in Qatar to where it is today. Air Liquide is proud to have played a role in
this success, which significantly strengthens our worldwide helium supply
position as well as our leadership in the Middle East.”
Helium in Ras Laffan, Qatar
After the discovery of the vast North Field deposit in the early 70s and the
launch of Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited RL at Ras Laffan
Industrial City in the 90s, Qatar initiated the development of a plant to
recover helium from the natural gas liquefaction units. Even when present at
levels of only 0.05%, helium recovery is economic due to the size of the North
Field deposit. Qatargas and RasGas are key players in the worldwide liquefied
natural gas and helium markets.
Air Liquide in the Middle East
Air Liquide employs 600 people in the Middle East. The region offers
increasing development opportunities as a result of energy-related projects
and a demand for new technologies.
Air Liquide is the world leader in gases for industry, health and the
environment, and is present in 80countries with close to 50,000employees.
Oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and rare gases have been at the core of Air
Liquide’s activities since its creation in 1902. Using these molecules, Air
Liquide continuously reinvents its business, anticipating the needs of current
and future markets. The Group innovates for the good of society while
delivering profitable growth and consistent performance.
Innovative technologies that curb polluting emissions, lower industry’s energy
use, recover and reuse natural resources or develop the energies of tomorrow,
such as hydrogen, biofuels or photovoltaic energy… Oxygen for hospitals, home
healthcare, fighting nosocomial infections… Air Liquide combines many products
and technologies to develop valuable applications and services not only for
its customers but also for society.
A partner for the long term, Air Liquide relies on employee commitment,
customer trust and shareholder support to pursue its vision of sustainable,
competitive growth. The diversity of Air Liquide’s teams, businesses, markets
and geographic presence provides a solid and sustainable base for its
development and strengthens its ability to push back its own limits, conquer
new territories and build its future.
Air Liquide explores the best that air can offer to preserve life, staying
true to its Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainable development
approach. In 2012, the Group’s revenues amounted to €15.3billion of which
82% were generated outside France. AirLiquide is listed on the Paris Euronext
stock exchange (compartment A) and is a member of the CAC 40 and Dow Jones
Euro Stoxx 50 indexes.
Follow us on Twitter @AirLiquideGroup
Corinne Estrade-Bordry, + 33 (0)1 40 62 51 31
Garance Bertrand, + 33 (0)1 40 62 59 62
Virginia Jeanson, +33 (0)1 40 62 57 37
Annie Fournier, +33 (0)1 40 62 57 18
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.