Afrox seals R300m Coega investment
Afrox has signed a milestone agreement confirming its R300m investment in a 150 ton per day state-of-the-art air separation unit (ASU) to service industry and health services across the Eastern Cape.
Brett Kimber, Managing Director of Afrox, South Africa’s leading industrial gases company, signed the land-lease agreement with the Coega Development Corporation at a ceremony in Port Elizabeth today.
Kimber confirmed the agreement reflects the company’s commitment to support existing and new customers in this crucial industrial development zone.
“Being able to produce gas on the customer’s doorstep will ensure security of supply, especially since we have built-in 10-day back-up storage facilities on-site for our oxygen, nitrogen and argon customers,” said Kimber. “We have longstanding relationships with customers across the Eastern Cape, some going as far back as 20 years, and we see the new ASU as a catalyst for growth for these businesses.
“Demand for Afrox products is already high in the Eastern Cape and we expect this to increase going forward. This new ASU will service that demand and the investment reflects our greater corporate strategy to meet the needs of customers wherever they arise.”
Afrox’s Coega ASU will also stimulate indirect job creation in the form of maintenance work, water treatment and office services and, during the construction phase, will support local businesses supplying materials for the civil works, confirmed Kimber.
The new plant will be constructed by Linde Engineering, a subsidiary of gases, engineering, healthcare and technologies multi-national, The Linde Group of Germany.
“As a member of The Linde Group, Afrox can call on the latest in engineering know-how and technologies to construct ASUs to the highest, most stringent of global standards,” said Kimber. “Linde Engineering has standardised the most popular plant sizes and equipment for specific applications and has modularised these plants. This means our ASU will be fully fabricated and shipped straight to the Eastern Cape, significantly reducing project time and costs.”
Linde Engineering’s approach to swift ASU construction means far fewer post-commissioning hitches and setbacks than is generally the case with the more common customised plants.
“With pressure increasing worldwide to reduce energy consumption, the new generation Linde plants are between 15% and 20% more energy efficient than other plants of a similar size,” confirmed Kimber. “In addition, at Coega we plan to harness power factor correction to filter the quality of the electricity coming in, which will consistently ensure energy efficiency.”
The Port Elizabeth ASU will be remotely operated and monitored from Brinsworth in the United Kingdom, where technicians can efficiently maximise plant output and pinpoint problems before they arise on a 24/7 basis.
Coega welcomed the R300m investment, saying that it would support industrial development and serve the needs of the market.
“In order to support the diversification of the industrial base, we need investment in essential utilities such as industrial gas to drive industrial development through ease of supply,” said Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC head of marketing and communications. “Afrox’s investment is a testament to the growing demand for industrial gas in the Eastern Cape and business’s response to that need. We are looking forward to watching them grow together with their clients.”
Kimber confirmed the R300-million ASU is part of a greater R1.5-billion strategic development programme to boost customer service levels and support Afrox’s growth strategy in South Africa.
“Other projects in the programme include the establishment of the R300 million first-phase of the centralised business campus near Umhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal and the recently commissioned R200-million ASU at Afrox’s Pretoria West site.”
Afrox is also installing a new generation modularised hydrogen plant at its Pelindaba site in North West Province in order to serve its merchant market. The new plant, which will replace two existing hydrogen plants that have reached full term, is scheduled to come on stream second quarter 2014.
Current plans are for the Eastern Cape ASU to be commissioned the first quarter of 2015, and work on the Coega site will commence in first quarter 2014.
- Modular ASUs: Linde Engineering, working repetitively to produce standard modularised gas plants, confirms the success rate of these plants is very high, with far fewer post-commissioning hitches and setbacks than is generally the case with the more common customised plants. These ASU plants generally produce oxygen, nitrogen and argon and the volumes and mix of these products can be adjusted to suit local market requirements.
- Advantages of remote monitoring: Dedicated Linde Group process experts can identify plant operation trends and are able to pinpoint any problems before they arise by monitoring key parameters. Monitoring all ASUs 24/7 from one operations centre, Afrox can draw from comparative information to monitor the performance of all its plants in South Africa.
- Africa investment strategy: As part of Afrox’s growth strategy in emerging economies, the company is to establish a new ASU in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, at a project value of about R45-million. The new plant is being designed primarily to produce bulk nitrogen, but it will have a small oxygen component for cylinder medical gas. This plant will be run off a gas generator and will be operational in April 2014.
- African Oxygen Limited (Afrox) is a leading supplier of gases and welding products in sub-Saharan Africa. A JSE listed company, Afrox employs over 3,000 people across its business and has its head office in Johannesburg. Afrox’s ultimate parent company is The Linde Group, which is in turn a global leader in gases, engineering and technology solutions. Afrox operates in South Africa and in 11 other African countries. In these markets Afrox supplies a wide range of customers drawn from sectors as diverse as mining, manufacturing, heavy industry, healthcare and hospitality. In addition, within the sub-Saharan markets in which it is active, Afrox manages five operations on behalf of The Linde Group. Throughout all regions, Afrox supplies the full range of large-volume on-site and bulk gases, cylinder gases, scientific and medical gases, refrigerants, packaged chemicals, helium and associated products. It also serves its markets as a provider of gas equipment, welding consumables and safety products. For more information go to www.afrox.com
- The Linde Group is a world-leading gases, engineering, healthcare and technologies company with around 62,000 employees in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the 2012 financial year, Linde generated revenue of EUR 15.280 bn (USD 19.9 bn). The strategy of the Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment – in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development. For more information, go to www.linde.com
Issued by: Serendipity Events, Promotions & Exhibitions On behalf of: Afrox
Editorial contact: Loll Thomson (011) 467 2133 / Mail to: loll@
Date: 1 November 2013