The European Investment Bank, the European Union's financing arm, is providing an ECU 30 million loan (1) to BOC Gazy sp.z o.o. for a new air separation and liquefaction plant in Upper Silesia.

Located at Kedzierzyn near Katowice, the plant will have a daily capacity of some 1 400 tons for air separation and 300 tons for liquefaction. It will create additional capacity for products vital for Poland's industrial modernisation. While most of the plant's output will be used by one of Poland's largest chemical companies, the new plant will also have spare capacity to supply industrial gases to other customers.

Commenting on the loan, EIB Vice President Wolfgang Roth said: 'The new plant will assist the ongoing modernisation and rationalisation in a sector of crucial importance for the development of a strong industrial base in this region of Upper Silesia. In addition, it helps a European company, a leader in the sector, to consolidate its position in Poland and to provide technology and training to the local workforce.'

The loan for the industrial gas plant brings total EIB lending in Poland since 1990 to ECU 2 330 million. Previous EIB financing concerned mainly the modernisation and expansion of gas, telecommunications, railway and motorway networks, the modernisation of Warsaw airport, municipal investments in Warsaw and Katowice, as well a re-forestation scheme. The EIB is also assisting the development of small and medium-size enterprises through its global loans (credit lines) to Polish banks and EU banks in Poland.

Since it started lending in Central and Eastern Europe in 1990, the EIB has provided more than 8.5 billion ECU for projects in twelve countries in the region, and more specifically in Poland (over 2.3 billion), the Czech Republic (1.8 billion), Hungary (1.2 billion), Romania (1 052 million), Slovakia (665 million), Bulgaria (471 million), Slovenia (325 million), Lithuania (148 million), Estonia (88 million), Albania (68 million), FYR of Macedonia (70 million) and Latvia (61 million).

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, IEP 0.79, USD 1.17159, PLN 4.19135.