(EnergyAsia, November 30 2011, Wednesday) — Air Liquide said it has secured a contract to supply China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation or Sinopec 200,000 normal cubic metre per hour (Nm3/h) of gaseous oxygen and nitrogen for use at its existing MPCC oil refinery in Maoming in China’s Guangdong province as well as an upcoming coal-to-hydrogen project.

Sinopec is expanding and upgrading the refinery to meet the country’s growing demand for cleaner fuels. Upon completion, the MPCC complex will become one of China’s biggest and most modern refineries with an annual capacity to process more than 20 million tons of crude oil.

Air Liquide said it will begin supplying 3,000 tonnes of oxygen per day when it starts up its new air separation plant in southern China in the first half of 2013. The plant will also produce nitrogen and argon.

Yu Xizhi, MPCC’s general manager, said:

“We have chosen Air Liquide as our partner to benefit from its state-of-the-art technology and excellence in operational management, to ensure a safe, efficient and reliable gas supply.”

Jean-Marc de Royere, Air Liquide’s senior vice-president for the Asia Pacific and a member of the company’s executive committee, said:

“This is a new step in our relationship with Sinopec and another milestone for Air Liquide in China’s refining industry. Air Liquide remains committed to the Chinese market in offering comprehensive solutions with leading-edge technologies.”

In 2007, Air Liquide said it and a subsidiary of Sinopec, Asia’s largest petroleum and petrochemical group, established an equal joint venture in Tianjin to supply oxygen and nitrogen to the Chinese firm’s new one- million-ton per year ethylene cracker and downstream units.