Engineering News

Air Products and Matheson Tri-Gas to Form Joint Venture to Build and Operate New Wyoming Helium Plant
Wednesday October 17, 11:45 am ET

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., Oct. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Air Products and Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., a member of the Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC) group, today announced their intention to jointly build and operate a liquid helium production plant near Big Piney, Wyoming. The plant, designed to produce 200 million standard cubic feet per year at start-up, with expectations for future capacity expansion, would process crude helium produced by a natural gas processing facility that would be owned by Cimarex Energy Co. and their partner, Riley Ridge LLC.

The Cimarex facility would process natural gas from the Riley Ridge Field in Wyoming, the second largest helium-rich natural gas field in the United States. Riley Ridge is believed to contain sufficient helium reserves to support production for decades. Production at the new Wyoming plant is anticipated to commence in 2009.

Air Products, the global leader in helium production, has pioneered many of the helium extraction, production, distribution and storage technologies used in the industry today. Air Products maintains the world's largest helium production and distribution system and operates numerous facilities around the world.

"We are enthusiastic about developing the helium reserves at Riley Ridge. Bringing on this new source, with very long-lived helium reserves, will enable us to further diversify our helium supply and enhance our ability to reliably serve our worldwide customers," said John Van Sloun, general manager, Helium and Rare Gases for Air Products. "We continue to see tightness in the supply of helium in the global market. The initial helium volumes expected from Riley Ridge in 2009 are relatively small, but this important new facility can produce additional product to help meet growing global demand."

Matheson Tri-Gas Global Helium was formed in September 2006 when its parent company, TNSC, acquired the helium assets that were divested in connection with Linde AG's acquisition of The BOC Group, plc. TNSC is the leading helium supplier in Japan, and is one of only six industrial gas companies in the world with direct access to helium sources.

"Taiyo Nippon Sanso purchased a 'sold out' helium business from Linde with limited ability to grow. Helium from the Riley Ridge Project will improve our ability to supply existing customers and provide the opportunity to grow the business beginning in 2009. Moreover, Matheson Tri-Gas' participation in the Riley Ridge Project gives us additional credibility as a competitor in the global helium business," said Phil Kornbluth, executive vice president, Global Helium for Matheson Tri-Gas.

Upon completion, the Wyoming helium production plant will be the 10th liquid helium plant operating in the United States, and the first new U.S. facility since 2000. It is expected to employ approximately 8-10 people after start-up.

Helium is used in many unique and valued applications including: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); lifting for high altitude scientific research balloons, blimps and party balloons; fiber optics and semiconductor manufacturing; metallurgy; breathing atmospheres for deep diving or unique blood gas medical mixtures; analytical chemistry; pressurizing and purging pipes, vessels, and other critical equipment; leak detection; and other advanced applications.

About Air Products

Air Products serves customers in industrial, energy, technology and healthcare markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of atmospheric gases, process and specialty gases, performance materials, and equipment and services. Founded in 1940, Air Products has built leading positions in key growth markets such as semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, home healthcare services, natural gas liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. The company is recognized for its innovative culture, operational excellence and commitment to safety and the environment. Air Products has annual revenues of $9 billion, operations in over 40 countries, and over 20,000 employees around the globe.

About Matheson Tri-Gas

Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., is a single source provider of industrial and specialty gases, including bulk and cylinder gases, gas handling equipment, high performance purification systems, and related hard goods. The Company also provides support services, engineering services, and systems management services to analytical laboratories and semiconductor manufacturers worldwide. As a member of the Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation group, Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc., is part of a worldwide industrial gas organization focusing on being the single source provider for global customer requirements.

Source: Air Products

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