LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., Oct. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Air Products (NYSE: APD) today applauded President Barack Obama and members of both the United States Senate and House of Representatives for their work in successfully passing vital legislation needed for the continuation of the critical helium supply from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Federal Helium Reserve. The BLM reserve in Amarillo, Texas currently provides 30 percent of the world's helium supply.
"While there currently exists a severe helium supply shortage that will unfortunately continue for some time, Congress' actions have averted a further supply crisis that would have been unprecedented," said John Van Sloun, general manager Worldwide Helium at Air Products. "It is only appropriate that we recognize Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) of the House Natural Resources Committee for developing this pragmatic legislation." Van Sloun added, "Air Products is especially grateful for the tireless efforts of U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent, who became a recognized leader on the helium issue in the House, and Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, both of whom were instrumental in the passing of the bill."
Air Products, a global leader in helium production, while pleased with the BLM supply continuation, cautioned that the helium shortage still remains. "There will be no increase in the amount of helium molecules being produced by the BLM as a result of this legislation. The legislation maintains the status quo in terms of helium availability. However, we are just pleased that the legislation's passing prevented a difficult supply situation from getting any worse," said Walter Nelson, director of Helium Sourcing at Air Products.
The continued supply from the BLM reserve also provides a bridge for new helium projects to be developed and brought onstream. One such project is Air Products' new, jointly-owned liquid helium production plant near Big Piney, Wyoming, which is scheduled to be onstream later this year. The facility will process natural gas from the Riley Ridge Field, one of the largest helium-rich natural gas fields in the United States. The Riley Ridge field is believed to contain sufficient helium reserves to support production for decades. Air Products also continues to take actions to improve future helium supply reliability for its customers by looking for other helium source opportunities to participate in as a buyer, an investor and an operator.Additionally, Air Products encourages all users of helium to review their operations for ways to conserve or recycle helium. "We have worked with several customers and will do so with others interested in looking for ways to conserve or reduce the amount of helium used in their operations. In fact, we consistently review our own use for ways to save," said Van Sloun. In 2011 Air Products was presented an "Innovation for Growth" award from Royal Philips Electronics for its work together with Philips to significantly reduce the amount of helium used at Philips' Latham, New York manufacturing facility. 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 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 semi-conductor 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.