Helium 4.0: Expectations for a difficult summer


2023 is shaping up to be the ninth year that has been impacted by helium shortages since 2006 – and there looks to be more headwinds on the horizon as upcoming plant outages will present further challenges.

Most notably, US oil and gas firm ExxonMobil is set to close its LaBarge facility on July 10 for an estimated 29 days. Located in Wyoming, the LaBarge site produces more than 20% of the world’s helium and has an 80-year supply remaining.1

Phil Kornbluth, President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting, says the major maintenance shutdown will increase the supply deficit during the July to September period. “Helium Shortage 4.0 has eased to some degree. However, we are in a bit of a ‘calm before the storm’ as the upcoming ExxonMobil shutdown will remove significant supply from the market,” he tells gasworld.

While maintenance outages are not unusual, they still unsettle the marketplace. As Kornbluth explains, the ExxonMobil closure will temporarily increase the supply deficit to around 30%, which is quite severe.

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