Helium swings from tight supply to surplus


Helium supply remained tight for the past two years until mid-March when across the globe countries went into lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19), causing a global recession.

That helium shortage was proving to be the most painful and prolonged in helium history, potentially lasting four years as new supplies to alleviate the shortage were not due until 2021/2022. This shortage began spring 2018 when a series of planned and unplanned outages affected major global supply sources, delays in plant startups, and the continued reduction of helium and ongoing allocations by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The ongoing tight supply caused by helium shortages peaked last summer during the planned plant outage at the largest US supplier, ExxonMobil.

But Covid-19 abruptly ended the shortage when demand significantly dropped off as many businesses, factories, non-essential healthcare services across the globe closed.

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