Air Products and Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. (MATHESON), a member of the Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC) group, today announced that production operations have begun with the filling and shipping of the first two 11,000 gallon helium ISO containers from their jointly-owned liquid helium production plant near Big Piney, Wyoming.
The plant is designed to produce 200 million standard cubic feet of helium per year initially, with expectations for future expansion to 400 million standard cubic feet per year.
The Big Piney helium facility purifies and liquefies a helium feedgas stream that is supplied by Denbury Resources’ Riley Ridge gas processing plant. The Denbury plant processes a raw gas stream produced from the LaBarge Field in Wyoming, one of the largest helium-rich gas fields in the United States. The LaBarge Field is believed to contain sufficient helium reserves to support production for decades.
“This plant is beginning production operations at a good time as both suppliers and manufacturing end-users of helium are still recovering from a global helium supply shortage. Big Piney alone won’t solve the supply issue, but it will help to provide additional helium at this critical time. Going forward, the Big Piney plant will further diversify our helium source portfolio in our efforts to reliably serve our customers,” said Walter Nelson, general manager - Worldwide Helium at Air Products.
Air Products 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.
“Helium produced at the Big Piney plant will help to ensure long-term security of supply for MATHESON’s existing helium customers, and provides us with an exciting opportunity to expand our business. Big Piney’s location in southwest Wyoming, close to our existing supply from ExxonMobil, provides logistics synergies and promotes a stable, efficient and reliable supply chain to serve our customers located in the U.S. and abroad,” said John Bigham, vice president, Global Helium for MATHESON.
MATHESON manages the global helium business of TNSC under the name MATHESON Global Helium. TNSC is the leading helium supplier in Japan, and is one of only five major industrial gas companies in the world with direct access to helium sources.
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.