Steel mills' switch to natgas boosts oxygen demand – US Praxair

24 April 2013 21:52  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The steel industry's switch to natural gas as a source of carbon is increasing demand for oxygen, US-based industrial gases producer Praxair said on Wednesday.

Because of the advent of shale gas, steel makers are using natural gas instead of coking coal, said James Sawyer, chief financial officer of Praxair.

He made his comments during an earnings conference call.

However, the switch to natural gas also requires steel makers to buy more oxygen, Sawyer said. In fact, using natural gas consumes about 25% more oxygen than using coal.

As a result, Praxair's utilisation rate for oxygen used in steel mills is running close to 90%, even though the steel mills are not running at peak capacity, he said.

"If the steel mills were to operate at a higher capacity, we would be building more air separation units, but we are not there yet," he said.

By: Al Greenwood
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