Helium, a global commodity delivered though a complex global supply chain. Having been through various periods of peaks and troughs in supply, the increasing challenge for the helium business is the diversity and reliability of its sourcing operations.
As a result, the global helium supply chain is becoming exactly that – a global sourcing network comprised of existing core production locations, with new and emerging sourcing hotspots of various scales proliferating around the world. Several smaller sources have emerged across the US; others are emerging in Canada, Russia and South Africa; while game-changing projects loom large on the horizon with Gazprom’s Amur Project in East Siberia and the long-awaited Qatar 3 project from RasGas Helium, not to mention the prospect of a Qatar 4 facility in the future too. At the same time, the BLM Pipeline & Storage System in Amarillo, Texas, the traditional flywheel for the industry, continues to tick down to its privatisation by 30th September (2021). The helium heatmap continues to evolve.
Yet while this sourcing map of the world is ever-changing, the nature or source type of that helium production invariably follows the same models. Approximately, 95% of the world’s helium supply is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing. Almost half of that volume is produced as a by-product of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production in Qatar, Algeria and Australia, affirms Phil Kornbluth, President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting.
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