The importance of Plan B: Helium and its supply chain fragilities


The global helium business is full of fragilities and fluctuations by its very nature, as we have experienced in the last decade alone.

After a period of relative stability, the helium markets experienced supply shortages in 2006-2007 followed by a more severe shortage from 2011-2013 caused by curtailed production of helium from (helium) refining facilities tied to the BLM Pipeline, as well as a series of significant outages at other sources and the delayed start-up of new sources.

From this challenging period, which became widely known as Helium Shortage 2.0, new supply came into the market from several sources in 2014 – most notably the keenly anticipated Qatar II plant which added roughly 1.3 billion scf (standard cubic feet) to global supply, an expansion of the Skikda, Algeria source and a new Gazprom liquefier in Orenburg, Russia.

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