BOC is to install a new state-of-the-art Air Separation Unit at its Motherwell site in Scotland, replacing an ageing unit constructed more than 35 years ago and other redundant process equipment.
The new plant will be smaller, more efficient, quieter to operate and will have a reduced carbon footprint. BOC, a member of The Linde Group, has received planning permission for the construction work which is due to be completed by autumn next year.
The Motherwell facility was established in the 1960s to provide large quantities of oxygen via pipeline for steelmaking at the Ravenscraig plant. Today, the steelworks have gone and BOC’s 18,000 Scottish customers are supplied by tanker and cylinders. The site remains the only source of liquefied air gases in Scotland and is a vital supplier to large sections of the Scottish economy, from offshore oil exploration and renewable energy, through engineering and chemicals to aquaculture.
The multi-million pound investment, which includes an award from Scottish Enterprise under its Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) programme, will secure the jobs of over 40 local staff as well as helping to maintain global competitiveness within the Scottish economy. If the Motherwell facility had closed, gases would have had to be brought up from Teesside by road, incurring extra transport costs.
Enterprise Minister, Fergus Ewing said: "The Scottish Government is doing all it can to ensure the strongest possible economic recovery. That's why it's encouraging to see BOC make this commitment to its facility in Motherwell, safeguarding valuable jobs in the process."
"This investment will also bring wider benefits to our economy by ensuring that the supply of liquefied gases to some of our key industries continues in future in a more environmentally friendly and efficient manner."
Mike Huggon, Managing Director of BOC, said: “This investment is a further demonstration of our commitment to Scotland, following our investment in a purpose-built cylinder filling and distribution centre in Glasgow. The new Motherwell facility will enable us to continue to serve the Scottish economy as it builds on its strengths in engineering and technology.”
Chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, Lena Wilson, said: "RSA plays an important part in our work to help home-grown companies expand in Scotland and in encouraging overseas investors to locate here. By doing so we can help ambitious companies realise their growth plans, ultimately boosting Scotland's long term economic recovery."
"BOC is exactly the type of forward-thinking company we want to work with and we very much welcome its decision to upgrade its Motherwell facility, creating new job opportunities for the local economy."
Since the closure of the steelworks, the existing Air Separation Unit has only run part time. This periodic stopping and starting results in additional noise so the new ASU – which will have more continuous running – will be notably quieter. In addition, because the new unit is designed to modern standards and is matched to today’s demands, it will be much more efficient in its use of energy and water. Carbon emissions associated with the process are expected to drop by around 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year.
As part of the overall project, a number of redundant buildings will be progressively removed over the coming years, reducing the visibility of the plant to the outside world.