Usually thought of as just something with which to inflate birthday balloons, helium actually has many commercial uses, including in conducting magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, manufacturing fiber optics and semiconductors, as well as in metallurgy, analytical chemistry, and other uses.
It's a very useful gas and, as luck would have it, the world's-biggest natural gas producer Gazprom (OGZPY -46.60%)is gearing up to begin development of a helium-rich gas feedstock located in Russia's Blagoveshchensk region, in Siberia, beginning in 2018, to produce more of it. Seeing opportunity in this news, on Thursday, Air Products announced it's signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Gazprom, codifying plans to buy helium supplies from the Russian giant.
According to a press release describing the MOU, Air Products also plans to cooperate with Gazprom on "logistical, technical, and production facets of the overall project," helping to facilitate development of the Russians' resource.
Air Products shares experienced no benefit from the news, however, falling 1.1% in Thursday trading, to close at $84.85.