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Two rival companies providing industrial gases to the Bakken oil-and-natural-gas boom built facilities in North Dakota.

But Aspen Air U.S. Corp. chose to double its production of industrial gases in Lockwood and to serve the energy play from Billings.

“We decided to build here. We feel it is so stable,” chief executive Onkar Dhaliwal said. “The living conditions are just better here.”

The company based in Calgary, Alberta, officially opened its expanded Lockwood plant on Wednesday with about 70 local business leaders attending. The company manufactures and distributes oxygen, argon and nitrogen for industrial uses.

Over the past year, Aspen Air has doubled its production capacity, by adding storage tanks and other equipment at its plant at 1524 Lockwood Road. For competitive reasons, Dhaliwal declined to say what the expansion cost.

Aspen Air has grown from about seven employees to 26. Last April, the company said it had doubled its transportation capacity, including contracting with Whitewood Transport of Billings.

The Lockwood plant opened on 5.2 acres in 2006 and since then customers and sales have tripled, Dhaliwal said.

The privately owned company operates in Canada and the United States sells industrial gases for many uses, including medical, welding, food and high-tech operations.

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Business editor for the Billings Gazette.