A company that supplied natural gases to USX's Geneva Works says USX owes more than $700,000 because it wrongfully withheld money to pay for electricity and failed to pay a guaranteed contract while the plant was shut down.

Liquid Air Corp., based in Walnut Creek, Calif., filed a lawsuit earlier this month in 4th District Court saying USX owes $529,953 because a contract it signed on Sept. 11, 1981, guaranteed purchase of at least 72 million cubic eet of oxygen per month from a facility operated on the Orem plant's grounds. The suit says USX, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., failed to pay for the minimum amount while the plant was shut down between Aug. 1, 1986, and Jan. 31, 1987.The contract has a clause that makes the minimum-purchase requirement invalid during a strike. However, the suit says that other court cases have determined the plant was shut down because of a lockout. "This labor dispute was a lockout caused by and within reasonable control of USX, not a strike," the suit says.

USX sold the Geneva steel mill to a Utah-based company in 1987. The Utah firm then reopened the plant.

The suit also says USX wrongfully withheld $232,375 for power used by Liquid Air to produce oxygen for other customers after Jan. 31, 1987. Liquid Air says it had an agreement with USX to credit the company for power used for producing oxygen sold to other customers, but it says the amount USX withheld was excessive.

Liquid Air says USX is attempting to recoup money it has to pay Utah Power & Light from losing a similar suit. In that suit, UP&L asked USX to pay for minimum monthly power purchases during the plant's shutdown.