2017 global helium market – Supply chain challenges remain


Helium is a global commodity delivered though a complex supply chain. Diversity of sourcing and reliability of sourcing operations will be the drivers affecting level of helium supply and service by major gas companies.

Worldwide helium market demand in 2017 is about 6.0 billion cubic feet (Bcf), as shown in Figure 1. This figure represents growth of about 200 million cubic feet (MMcf) from 2014, when the critical shortage of 2011 to 2013 ended, primarily because the very large Qatar 2 supply was brought on stream. Worldwide helium supply in 2017 is also about 6.0 Bcf, bringing supply and demand in balance.

Prior to the disruption of helium supply caused by the Qatar blockade, global helium had been in moderate surplus. From the Figure 1 map, we can see the complexity of supplying helium—which is perishable under very high vacuum at very cold temperatures—from a very few specialized companies with a few remotely located production plants for delivery to hundreds of thousands of customers all over the world. 

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