Gulf Cryo Holding K.S.C.C, is a leading manufacturer of industrial, medical and specialty gases in the MENA region consisting of 13 subsidiaries across 10 countries. It has come a long way since its formation as the Kuwait Oxygen and Acetylene Company (KOAC) in 1953, which was the first oxygen separation plant in the Arabian Gulf. Gulf Cryo now employs over 1000 staff across the MENA region, with continued expansion and strategic investment plans in the pipeline.
Salim Huneidi, the father of the current chairman Amer Huneidi, recognised that the booming construction, manufacturing and petroleum sectors in Kuwait in the 1950’s were generating a growing need for a constant and reliable source of industrial gases. KOAC was established to provide oxygen to thriving local industries but over time, and as the needs of the region developed, it expanded its product range to cover a broad spectrum of industrial and medical gases. By 1971, KOAC started bulk gas operations and in the late 70’s it expanded into the United Arab Emirates with the formation of Arabian Industrial Gases Company in Sharjah.
Naji Skaf, chief executive officer at Gulf Cryo says: “Our success over the decades has been driven by our ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and convert emerging opportunities into solid revenue generators. We continue to make the strategic investments necessary to increase our competitiveness over the long term. Over the past five years, we made important moves into KSA and expanded Gulf Cryo’s footprint to Egypt by acquiring a controlling interest in a leading gas company. That investment, which closed early this year, provides Gulf Cryo access to the region’s largest underserved market with significant opportunities for add-on investment.”
Strong cash flow growth from continuing operations has resulted in substantial balance sheet capacity for Gulf Cryo’s further expansion plans. As well as Egypt, recent new territories for the company are Oman, Jordan and Iraq – Gulf Cryo is the first foreign company to operate in Iraq – and it has two more countries on its hit list. Earnings have also been enhanced by the acquisition of a minority stake in Shuaiba Oxygen in Kuwait which brings Gulf Cryo’s interest in this project to 50%.
As well as major capital and acquisitions spend, Gulf Cryo is also investing in the construction of a new 200 TPD ASU on a 30,000 square metre site in Abu Dhabi. On completion in August this year, this will be its largest plant in the UAE and will help meet demand for fast reliable delivery of industrial gases to the oil and gas, steel and heavy fabrication sectors, alongside an emphasis on diversification throughout the downstream market in Abu Dhabi. The group has also just secured access to 280 TPD of raw CO₂ under a 20 year contract with EQUATE petrochemical company that, pending construction of a new CO₂ liquefaction plant, will make Gulf Cryo a leading CO₂ supplier in the GCC region.
Naji Skaf continued: “The way in which an industrial gases company must differentiate itself to maintain a competitive advantage is to continuously introduce new applications for its products and consistently enhance its ability to deliver a product safely, reliably and with the highest possible quality. These core principles have remained unchanged for six decades. Over the coming years, we will undoubtedly continue to be tested by historical events unfolding across the region but I am convinced that our long term strategies and commitment of our employees and shareholders, provide us with the necessary foundation for successfully meeting those challenges.”