Air Liquide Starts Hydrogen Site at Yanbu

French industrial gases producer Air Liquide has started up its €350m global-scale hydrogen production site at Yanbu Industrial City in Saudi Arabia, where it has a long-term contract to supply the new YASREF refinery operated by a joint venture of Saudi Aramco and Sinopec.

Hydrogen production is planned to be ramped up in parallel with the refinery’s operations over the course of 2015. Altogether, Air Liquide will have two hydrogen plants with capacity of 340,000 Nm3/hour – bringing the company’s overall output forward by nearly 20%. The site will also include a purification unit.

The region’s largest refinery will process 400,000 barrels/d of heavy crude. The input of hydrogen allows the sulfur content of the fuel to be reduced and thus meet the environmental standards for cleaner transportation fuels.

Air Liquide said the presence of significant industries such as refining or petrochemical in the Yanbu industrial basin will allow it to further develop and optimize the hydrogen supply to its customers.

Pierre Dufour, senior executive vice president of the French gases group, said the new project reinforces its strategic presence in the Middle East. The decision by such a large refinery to outsource its hydrogen production is a first in the Middle East, and representative of a growing trend in the region, he added.

“Thanks to its technologies and operational know-how, Air Liquide can offer customers high value-added solutions that contribute to their competitiveness in the long run,” Dufour said.

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