LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Air Products (NYSE: APD), the global leader in helium production, continues to take actions to improve future helium supply reliability for its customers. Today Air Products announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Russia-based Gazprom Export LLC that confirms Air Products' long-term plans to purchase helium from Gazprom. Gazprom intends to start development of its major natural gas resources in Eastern Siberia and plans to implement large-scale helium production from the helium-rich gas feedstock in the Blagoveshchensk region beginning in 2018. Beyond the purchase of helium, the MOU also indicates Air Products' interest in working with Gazprom on logistical, technical, and production facets of the overall project. "Our focus on reliable helium supply to our customers is priority one for Air Products and working with Gazprom would further diversify our helium source portfolio. This MOU is the latest in a series of actions we have taken to better position ourselves in meeting increasing customer helium demand. We will continue to look for other helium source opportunities where we can participate as a buyer, an investor, and operator," said John Van Sloun, general manager – Worldwide Helium at Air Products. "Through careful planning of the extraction, transport and storage facilities for the new and ambitious East Siberian helium project, it will primarily ensure these helium technologies will capture this scarce gas for flexible supply and strategic helium storage creation. We hope that our partnership with Air Products will help Gazprom Group in developing these vast resources in terms of global growth of helium demand," the deputy Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee and General Director of Gazprom Export, Alexander Medvedev said. Van Sloun also added that Air Products' new, jointly-owned liquid helium production plant near Big Piney, Wyoming is scheduled to be onstream in 2013. The facility will process natural gas from the Riley Ridge Field in Wyoming, 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 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.