The Chinese market has experienced significant growth over the past decade and is now a major market for helium.

That’s according to Steve Eckhardt, Vice-President of Global Helium at Matheson Tri-Gas, who gave an overview of the Chinese Market to delegates at the Helium Summit 2018 in Houston, Texas yesterday.

Global Helium Summit 2018 closes

Eckhardt’s presentation elaborated on the rapid growth in China, the dynamics of the market, the major players, and where it may be headed in the future.

“China is a major driver of current helium market growth, with demand growth of about 10-12% annually since 2010,” he explained. “China represents around 12% of the global helium demand. It has surpassed the Korea and Japan helium markets as measured in volume and continued robust growth is expected into the future.”

“Future growth is expected to be more ‘modest’ at 5-8% annually, with approximately 40-60 MMCF/yr of growth,” he added.


Eckhardt then listed the recent drivers of helium growth as:

  • The industrialisation of China and related GDP growth – welding, diving, balloons, leak detection
  • The significant increase in the deployment of MRI’s – local MRI manufacturing and magnet filling drives significant growth
  • Increased fibre optic and semiconductor production – industry growth and relocation of plants from other countries to China

Looking to the future, Eckhardt reflected on a number of dynamics that could impact upon the Chinese helium business, not least the potential for an additional 5% tariff to be placed on helium imported from the US. There will, however, be increasing imports from Russia starting in 2021, as well as potential for locally-owned suppliers to impact competitive dynamics in the future.

Continued demand growth in key market segments will drive global growth, he added, and there are additional helium transfills mainly outside of Shanghai to be developed.


A full review of the Helium Summit 2018 will be published in the upcoming November editions of both gasworld and gasworld (US edition) magazine.