gasworld is now live on the ground at the Westin Houston, Memorial City Hotel, in Houston, Texas for our first ever Helium Super Summit.
As the somewhat dynamic helium business goes through another period of significant change, and coronavirus (Covid-19) hopefully subsides, we couldn’t be more excited for an in-person forum for insight and knowledge-sharing, for discussion and debate. Here, in this live feed, we bring the latest from the Summit straight to you as and when it happens.
Thursday 9th December
13:15 The final speaker of Session 4, Davin Minchin, is live now. Helium from Tanzania is the title of his presentation.
13:05 ”On November 15th the Saskatchewan Government launched a Helium Action Plan, and North American Helium intends to be a major contributor to that through repeatable explorations, multiple purification plants and logistical capability to service North America and international markets,” McDougall said.
12:40 Marlon McDougall, President and Chief Operating Officer at North American Helium is now on the stage at gasworld’s Helium Super Summit. ”New ‘reliable’ geopolitically secure helium resources are needed to replace the declining BLM production and to supply the growing end user demand in North America,” he has just told delegates.
12:15 Durell Johnson, CEO of Tumbleweed Midstream, is next to take the stage, speaking on the Ladder Creek Expansion Plan. ”Tumbleweed Mistream was formed in May 2019 to acquire the Ladder Creek Helium plant and associated system.”
”Ladder Creek Helium Plant has a liquefaction capacity of 1.5 MMcfd of helium,” Johnson has just told delegates.
11:40 Stefano Marani, CEO of Renergen is now on the stage and providing delegates with an update on the company’s Virginia Gas Project.
”There is a very busy 12 months ahead with plant design, key exploration and development activities commencing,” he told delegates. ”The project [Virginia Gas Project] is anticipated to build up to 44mmscf per day at full production.”
10.00 Antoine Mazas, General Manager, Air Liquide Global Helium, is now delivering a presentation on helium and aerospace. “The number of launches is expected to double by 2030,” Mazas said. Mazas said the helium total estimated market (2020-2030) is 25,000 t (cum).
He said, “Air Liquide sees as the possible market evolution for the space industry to grow from $450bn in 2020 to $1,000bn in 2040. Air Liquide has been designed and manufactured the liquid oxygen rank and helium sphere for the Ariane 5 programme. We [Air Liquide] also developed and installed cryogenic lines and a propellant management device and the helium sphere for Ariane 6.”
9.19 MRI is also a key driver for global helium demand as Nick Haines, Head of Helium at Messer Americas, is now explaining.
The cooling properties of helium play a big role in MRI technology, with niobium filament wire wound and immersed in liquid helium to create a superconductive coil.
The conventional make-up of the MRI system has tended to consume significant quantities of liquid helium, as the ultimate supercooling fluid, making it one of the largest of end-user applications for the global helium business.
Haines explained that small MRI helium reservoirs have further reduced demand.
“Magnet manufacturers have installed helium recovery and reliquefication systems, and this has reduced demand by hundreds of mmscf/year,” he told delegates.
“Messer predicts that approximately 5,000 MRI units are installed annually.”
9.19 Tom Deng, Guanggang Gases & Energy, is now providing an overview of the Chinese helium market, and says China domestic production is about 1 million cubic meters annually with the expectation the 2022 market will grow by 3-5%.
He said, “China has 1.1 billion cubic meters helium resource.”
He added, “We believe a huge amount of helium will go from Amur (Gazprom, in Russia) to China in 2022.”
08.50 Day two’s first session is focusing on markets, applications and equipment. Mike Corbett, Managing Partner of Linx Consulting, is the first speaker today and is looking at electronics.
“The semiconductor industry is a major driver of demand for helium,” said Corbett, who went on to explain the semiconductor inudstry will be owrth $1 trillion by 2030. “We exect 100 million Bcf growth in 2022 and we don’t think it’s a one time growth event. We see it as more sustainable growth.”
Covid has shaped the semiconductor industry in a positive way, with the increase of virtual connectivity which has led to a global chip shortage with large economic impacts.
08:30 Phil Kornbluth is introducing speakers for the first session of day two here in Houston. First up is Mike Corbett, who will be speaking about semiconductors and electronics, followed by Tom Deng, Guanggang Gases & Energy, with an overview of the Chinese helium market, Nick Haines, of Messer Americas, on MRI and helium drivers, and Antoine Mazas, of Air Liquide, on aerospace.
Wednesday 8th December
14:30 Today’s sessions have now concluded and what a morning we’ve had here in Houston! Already, since the Summit has been underway, we have heard plans for the world’s largest helium storage cavern and that the $15.5bn Gazprom Amur Project is now over 80% complete.
To read the full recaps of this morning’s presentations, follow the links below:
12.36 Abigail Thurston, Commercial Manager; CO2, Helium and Trucked LNG at ExxonMobil, the biggest producer of helium in the US, is now delivering the last speaker presentation of day one. Thurston is focusing on Exxon’s helium operation at Wyoming. Exxon also captures and sells CO2 from the Wyoming plant. It is currently producing and selling about 340+ MCFD. Exxom operates 160 miles of CO2 pipeline and seven metering facilities in southwest and central Wyoming.
Thurston said, “We currently produce about 1.5 Bcf helium a year. We sell helium at the plant, customers bring ISO to the plant to be filled by our operations team. Starting January 1, 2022, we will have multiple contract types so you can choose your level of security of supply, with plans to add gaseous sales by third quarter 2022. Usually we have about three months before we have these spot sales before we select a winner.”
Thurston said Wyoming accounts for about 20% of the world’s helium and is a $2billion investment.
12.30 Jassem Al-Mulla of QatarEnergy, is now delivering a presentation on Qatar’s helium production and future plans. Earlier this year, Helium 3 started up with production of 400 mcfa. ”Production is currently sold under long term sales contract,” Al-Kubaisi said.
Qatar’s fourth helium plant, taking feed gas from four LNG trains associated with North Field Expansion Project. It is expected 2027, with 1500 mcfa.
11:50 Sam Burton, Field Manager for helium operations at the Bureau of Land Management’s Federal Helium Programme, is next up with an update on the privatisation of the BLM’s helium assets.
He said, “We continue to operate the facility but it’s in surplus mode. All assets will be sold. All the helium will be sold with the facility.”
By 2025, Burton said the helium production is expected to be 535 MMCF should there be no unexpected problems.
Among the assets to be sold include a crude helium pipeline, metres, and cathoid protection; mineral rights to Bush Dome Reservoir; Cliffside Plant Facility, Gas Wells and Pipelines; central compression, natural gas chiller skid and NGL storage and Satanta Maintenance Station.
Burton said, “The transition period to the new owner could take a while, we’re not sure yet. The next quarter in 2022 after September, we expect there will be a smooth transition to a new buyer.”
Burton concluded, “The government is taking the last steps to complete the mission of the BLM and we are well on track to making that happen.”
11:15 Phil Kornbluth, President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting, has just started his presentation on Gazprom’s Amur Gas Processing Plant (GPP) in the far southeast of Russia. This is the start of session two, titled Sourcing and Supply, Part 1, here in Houston.
Kornbluth said the GPP is 80.9% complete as of October, with the first two of six trains in operation, and long-term contracts with the helium majors.
Kornbluth said, “Gazprom’s helium hub at Vladivostok is designed to process more 4000 helium containers travelling to and from Amur. The helium hub is going to manage all the transportation and it’s the largest helium logistics centre in the world. All of Amur’s helium sold to foreign customers will be delivered via the helium hub. It’s like a super transfill.”
Kornbluth added, “Russia will become the world’s third largest supplier of helium in 2022. The Amur supply is going to be relatively low cost initially, it’s going to be quite competitive with the other major sources in the US and Qatar. It will reduce US exports to both Asia and Europe. The helium business is going to continue to become less US-centric.”
Kornbluth concluded, ”It’s a fragile supply chain and when a big plant goes down the market feels it. There will still be times of shortage because these plants go down for maintenance. Supply from Amur will be low cost and have a competitive advantage.”
10:25 Don Hartsell, Commissioner and Managing Director of World Air League, is now on the stage and telling delegates about the Great World Sky Race, for which helium will play a key role.
”The journey will travel over two billion people and will provide everyone around the globe a reason to look up, stand tall and have restored hope in the world that lies ahead,” Hartsell said.
10:05 The Q&A is now underway! Have any questions to ask our panelists? Please post them in the Helium Super Summit app.
10:01: “Helium demand is at or near pre-Covid levels,’ Eckhardt concluded.
09:55 “Approximatley 80% of China’s helium supply is now from Qatar,” Eckhardt has just told delegates.
09:40 Steve Eckhardt, Vice-President of Global Helium at Matheson Tri-Gas is now presenting on the impact Covid-19 has had on helium market. Eckhardt explained the impact of the pandemic on the supply chain, and how it has impacted helium logistics. Increased demand for consumer goods has resulted in US and Asian port congestion, significant delays at some ports.
09:20 gasworld has now welcomed Maura Gauvey, Principal and Director of Market Research at Intelligas Consulting, to the stage.
“US sourced helium will decline from 51% of worldwide supply to 37% of worldwide supply of helium,” Gaurvey told delegates.
09:00 Wally Nelson, Vice-President of Helium and Rare Gases at Air Products, is now on the stage - and has just unveiled plans for the world’s largest helium storage cavern.
“It’s the largest helium storage cavern in the world,” Nelson said.
“It’s fully operational as of 2021. It’s physically the size of the Empire State Building. The injection and withdrawal rates exceed the current capacity of the BLM system which enables us to back up any planned or unplanned outages at any sources around the world. If the ExxonMobil goes down with Hugoton, helium can be pulled from the cavern.
08:00 We are now set-up and ready for the first day of speaker sessions. This morning attendees will hear from the likes of Air Products, Intelligas Consulting, the Bureau of Land Management’s Federal Helium Program. As well as the live feed, once each session has concluded, we will be sharing session recaps on our website.
Wednesday 7th December
20:30 We are now half way through our Welcome Reception and we would like to thank North American Helium for sponsoring this evening. In gasworld US’ recent Helium edition, Nick Parkinson, Editor of gasworld US, spoke to Nick Snyder, CEO of North American Helium, on ensuring helium supply remains close to North America.
Want to read the full interview? Access it here.
19:00 Our Welcome Reception, sponsored by North American Helium, is now underway and guests are starting to arrive at the 024 Grille, Westin Houston, Memorial City Hotel.
18:00 Registration is now open and the gasworld team is now at the reception desk ready to assit you. We look forward to meeting you ahead of the Summit.