Helium’s a hot topic in the Middle East and this is a market growing at between 5-7% with its main uses in MRI, carrier gases, leak testing and diving gases – those are the words of Spiritus’ John Raquet as he delivered a presentation about the helium dilemma to resume the morning speeches on day two of the gasworld conference.

Having introduced the topic with a brief overview of helium as a gas, its applications and capacity limitations, Raquet addressed both the global and US situations in particular and emphasised that it is still in the US where the bulk of helium production derives from.

“I’ve just talked briefly about global, but I think it’s very important to discuss the US situation because that is where still the major heart of production lies,” he said.

Speaking about the rising demand and concerns of insufficient helium supplies, Raquet noted that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the US may only be able to offer a limited production capacity. He commented, “If the world demand is increasing as it is the BLM and all its reserves can only supply a certain amount per year and no more.”

The presentation later made clear that while the helium plant in Qatar is currently only operating at 60%, this is expected to rise to 90% by 2008.