Signing an agreement in Paris, Gazprom and Linde AG have entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in implementing new helium production projects as part of the development of the Eastern Siberia gas fields.

News of the MoU came just days before fellow industrial gas major Matheson also entered a similar agreement with Gazprom.

Russia, and Gazprom in particular, has ambitious plans to become a key player in the helium market, with huge and untapped underground reserves of helium-bearing natural gas in Eastern Siberia providing the basis for these objectives.

Pursuant to the MoU recently signed in France, Linde intends to act as a strategic buyer of significant volumes of helium from a new Gazprom production facility in the town of Belogorsk, in the vicinity of the city of Blagoveshensk.

The plant is due to be commissioned in 2018 in parallel with the start of the flow of natural gas extracted from the resource rich Chayandinskoye field.

Tom Blades, Member of the Executive Board of Linde AG, said, “Linde is interested in a long-term cooperative agreement with Gazprom Export to purchase significant volumes of helium produced from this major project, and as a potential partner of Gazprom Group in helium production, marketing, logistics and other technical areas associated with helium.”

Large resource

Alexander Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom JSC and General Director of Gazprom export LLC, and Blades signed the MoU in Paris.

The parties also agreed to explore other opportunities of a more profound cooperation within the framework of new helium production projects in the Russian Far East.

The Chayandinskoye field, together with other resources owned by Gazprom in the East Siberian region, forms one of the largest reservoirs of helium in the world. By using the appropriate facilities the helium production levels will be set to enable balancing of world supplies and demand for decades.

The volume of helium produced by Gazprom will reportedly replace the volumes produced by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) system for decades to come, as the BLM system depletes.