The European Commission (EC) has approved a proposed joint venture between German gas company Linde AG and Algerian state-owned energy group Sonatrach, that is planning to produce and market helium. The commission decided to clear the transaction having asserted that no competition concerns arise from the deal.
In late May 2002, Linde and Sonatrach announced plans for a joint helium project in Skikda on the East Coast of Algeria. The companies agreed on the establishment of a production as well as a distribution joint venture, with Linde holding a stake of 51 percent in each.
Linde will build a helium liquefaction plant in Skikda with a total investment volume of about $86 million, which is due to go on stream in 2005 and will produce 17 million cubic meters of helium per year. Through this deal, Linde as a major supplier of helium in Europe has secured its own helium source. Up to now, the Linde Group has obtained helium mainly from US suppliers.
The rare gas helium (He) is needed for the most various medical and scientific applications. Among these are the generation of very low temperatures close to absolute zero, super-conductivity (magnetic resonance imaging in the early diagnosis of cancer), use in the optical fibers technology or the building-up of electronic circuits, to name only a few. Worldwide demand for helium increases annually by five to 10 percent. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )