MOSCOW Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom (GAZP.MM) and France's Air Liquide (AIRP.PA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to jointly develop helium deposits in Eastern Siberia, Gazprom said on Tuesday.
"According to terms of the MOU, Air Liquide and Gazprom Export intend to study forms of strategic cooperation such as joint production, transportation, storage and marketing of helium within the Helium Project framework," Gazprom's exporting arm, Gazprom Export, said in a statement.
Gazprom has signed several such deals, including with Japan's Matheson, to tap vast reserves of helium, which is used in a range of industries, such as aviation, aerospace, electronics, nuclear power, and healthcare.
Gazprom's new helium production facility in East Siberia is scheduled to start producing liquid helium by around 2018.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Megan Davies)