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'Still in expansion mode' IGL outlines import substitution, export plans


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March 2022
 
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Keith Davisq (centre), IGL quality health, safety and environment manager; engineer Tami Leigh Mitchell and Senior Operations Engineer Michael Wynter (right) watch as Minister of Industry, Investment and Commer Senator Aubyn Hill start the oxygen pressure swing absorption plant at Industrial Gas Limited's Ferry compound in St Catherine. Also looking on is Member of Parliament for St Andrew Western Anthony Hylton, who attended the commissioning of the plant on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.

Above Body

 18 Mar 2022    admin   

On the cusp of its 60th anniversary — which coincides with the 60th year of Independence for Jamaica — Industrial Gases Limited (IGL) is ready to embark on an expansion initiative that will see the company diversifying its product offering and begin exporting products to other jurisdictions.

On Wednesday, March 16, managing director of IGL Peter Graham used the commissioning of the company's new oxygen pressure swing absorption (PSA) plant at Ferry, St Catherine, as a platform to outline plans to increase supply of industrial gases locally as part of an import substitution thrust. The construction of the plant cost the company US$10 million or over $150 million.

Alerting president of Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) John Mahfood, Graham said, “We are members of the JMEA as a manufacturer, but John…by the end of this year we will be part of that organisation both as a manufacturer and exporter.”

“We want to export oxygen, we want to export nitrogen, we want to export CO2 (carbon dioxide) and also increase import substitution,” he added.

Known mainly for its distribution of liquid petroleum gas used for cooking, IGL also distributes liquefied oxygen, helium, and nitrous oxide in its blue cylinders. In addition, it supplies Jamaica's bauxite refineries with nitrogen used to make alumina.

Now, with the commissioning of the oxygen PSA plant — otherwise called an air separation unit — the company will be able to increase production of oxygen from 13 tonnes per day, adding 40 per cent to its capacity.

Moreover, the commissioning of the plant will also see IGL increase its carbon dioxide production, which, Graham shared, it will aim to sell to local soft drink manufacturers.

“So Wisynco and Pepsi can purchase…instead of importing CO2 they can now purchase CO2 made in Ferry,” the managing director stated, adding that once the carbon dioxide plant is fully functional, IGL will demonstrate creative ways to use the compound.

In addition to including it in carbonated beverages, Graham said food producers can use carbon dioxide to flash-freeze their products for export. He also disclosed that the ISO: 9001-certified company is also pursuing Scheme for Food Safety Management Systems accreditation, which will allow the company “to sell food-grade products”.

“We are still in expansion mode,” IGL Chairman Bevon Francis told the gathering.

“At 60, IGL is soaring to new heights and there is a lot more to come as we continue to innovate for the betterment of Jamaica,” he continued

 

IGL began construction of its new oxygen plants back in 2018, when no one had considered the demand for oxygen created by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In fact, at that time Jamaica was importing all it needed to supply medical-grade oxygen to hospitals.

With this in mind, the company's management gave serious thought to import substitution and the possibility of exporting excess supply of gas to other countries.

 

“IGL is saying, why should we be buying somebody else's production and use scarce foreign exchange? Why not produce right here?” Graham remarked at the ceremony.

 

He added: “As a country we can't get wealthy by selling to the three million people living here. We have to be selling to other jurisdictions.”

The managing director's comments received the endorsement of Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill, who highlighted that now is the time to invest in Jamaica.

“Supply chains are shortening. People don't want to go all over the place. Jamaica is a good investment destination,” he emphasised.

The minister also pointed out that IGL has investors from across the Caribbean who are investing into the island, adding that the investment in the plant positions the company to improve its investment outlook in other countries.

While noting that Jamaica has a per capita income of over US$5,000, Hill argued that, “We're going to have to expand our markets to broader afield in the Caribbean and even wider, so that people with bigger per capita income can buy our goods and we can also get rich like them.”

Source: Jamaica Observer 

 

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