Another volatile year for rare gases


As we near the end of 2016, we look back on another volatile year for rare gases. In my previous rare gases market review (gasworld.com/2009662.article), we reported that neon (Ne) was in a very critical supply shortage during early to mid-2015.

 The new neon production predicted to start up in early 2016, mostly in China, did materialize and added about 20% to the supply side in a very short period of time. Then, we saw the demand drop, as the up to 100-fold price increase for neon caused laser manufacturers to come up with product saving software. That innovation decreased the demand for Ne by about 20% overall. As you may imagine, this caused the price to decline very fast. Today, Ne is back to pre-shortage pricing.

Krypton (Kr), on the other hand, has not been at all volatile in 2016. It is in significant over-supply, and its price is slowly going lower. Xenon (Xe), meanwhile, has begun to increase in price, as the demand is almost equal to supply. Higher Xe prices are driven by an increase in demand and a decline in supply. I foresee xenon being a very interesting product to watch in 2017, but not nearly as volatile as it was in 2013-14.

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