Praxair Distribution Inc., a subsidiary of Praxair Inc., acquired Harlingen, Texas-based Acetylene Oxygen Company (AOC). AOC, a distributor of Praxair industrial gases, is one of the top 10 independent gas and welding products distributors in the U.S. and operates from 24 locations throughout central and southern Texas, including 4 cylinder filling plants. The acquisition allows Praxair to further expand its packaged gases presence in Texas. The company acquired two independent distributors in the second half of 2011 that serve the Houston area, National Alloy and Texas Welders Supply Company.

In other news, Praxair signed a long-term contract with Mesabi Nugget LLC to construct and operate a new plant at Mesabi’s Hoyt Lakes, Minn., iron nugget facility. The plant will supply nitrogen to provide an inert atmosphere for various aspects of the nugget production process, replacing previous liquid nitrogen supply. Under the agreement, Praxair will build and operate the plant at Mesabi’s facility in Hoyt Lakes, which produces iron nuggets that are pure enough to meet the pig-iron specification for U.S. mini-mill steel production. The plant will produce approximately 50 tons per day of nitrogen and is scheduled to start-up by the end of 2012.