Air Products, Matheson open Wyoming helium plant

Air Products and Matheson Tri-Gas (MATHESON), a member of the Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp. (TNSC) group, have started operations with the filling and shipping of the first two 11,000 gallon helium-ISO containers from their jointly-owned liquid plant near Big Piney, Wyoming, the companies announced on Wednesday. 

The plant is designed to initially produce 200 million standard cubic feet/year of helium, with expectations for future expansion to 400 million standard cubic feet/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 US. 

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," said Walter Nelson, general manager of the global helium business for Air Products. "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."

Air Products has pioneered many of the helium extraction, production, distribution and storage technologies used in the industry today. The company says it 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," said John Bigham, vice president of the global helium business for MATHESON. "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 US and abroad."

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.

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