Robust pipeline of new projects bodes well for future helium supply


While the worst of Helium Shortage 3.0 may be behind us, the gas industry and many helium users continue to struggle with helium supply allocations and high prices.

Though helium markets may continue to experience shortage or tight supply conditions through the rest of 2019 and some, or all, of 2020, a much more favorable environment is coming into focus for 2021 and beyond. During the five-year period, 2021-2025, new projects could result in more than 3.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of annual capacity entering the market. With current effective capacity of around 6 Bcf, it is not hard to conclude that helium supply should be a lot more plentiful from 2021 forward than it has been in recent years.

Where is all of this new supply going to come from? In previous gasworld articles, we have noted that Air Products’ expansion of its Arzew, Algeria source and the start of production from the Qatar 3 source will help to ease the severity of Helium Shortage 3.0 during 2020. If Helium Shortage 3.0 has not ended already, the start of production from Gazprom’s Amur Project should end Helium Shortage 3.0 by Q2 of 2021. Gazprom’s project, which will extract helium from natural gas that will be transported to China through the Power of Siberia Pipeline, will eventually add 2.1 Bcf per year to world capacity in three 700 million cubic foot (mmcf) per year increments that are currently expected to come on line in 2021, 2022 and 2024.  

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