Against a backdrop of worldwide helium shortages and with the future of the US Federal Helium Reserve still in the spotlight, the first-ever Global Helium Summit is underway in London, UK.

Hosted by gasworld conferences, the summit has attracted more than 100 delegates from 16 countries to explore the trends, technologies and dynamics in the helium supply chain.

The summit is a single-day event, providing a platform for insight and discussion about one of the biggest issues in the industry.

From science to healthcare (MRI) to diving applications and party balloons, industry has struggled to quench its thirst for helium. Planned and unplanned outages at key source sites, coupled with a lack of new capacity entering the market, have restricted supply.

Fears have also intensified concerning the future fate of the BLM-operated US Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo, Texas – thought to currently account for up to 30% of global supply.

These dynamics, as well as questions about the future supply chain through to 2020, comprise a pressing agenda at the summit. A packed programme of speakers is already underway in London, with some of the biggest figures within the gases industry lined up to share their insights.

Key speakers include Walter Nelson of Air Products, Nick Haines of Linde Gas, Gerard Tan of Air Liquide, and Phil Kornbluth, now of Global Gases. Also represented on the speakers panel will be Siemens Magnet Technology and Russian company Gazprom.