It’s been five years since gasworld last profiled the helium heatmap, and seven years since this feature debuted back in 2016.
A lot’s changed in the global helium business in that time, and yet so much also still feels the same; what was then Helium Shortage 3.0 ultimately subsided when Covid-19 reduced helium demand in 2020, only to be succeeded by Shortage 4.0 a couple of years later – a market tightness that seems to be subsiding today. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) remains the largest application globally (for now), and sourcing is still overwhelmingly driven by natural gas exploration and co-extraction techniques.
Yet the times have indeed been changing and both the sourcing and applications landscape is slowly shifting. The semiconductor manufacturing sector is on the cusp of supplanting MRI as the largest end-user for helium in the next few years, while there are also now more than 40 helium start-ups disrupting the face of the industry.
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