On 7th May Iwatani announced securing 20% of the helium rights at Qatar II
The new agreement marks a first for Japan. The contract secures direct importation rights to the helium produced at the Qatar II Project in Ras Laffan Industrial City.
Senior Executive Director of Iwatani, Hisato Ueha, explained the significance of the deal stating, “Obtaining the rights in Qatar with its medium to long term stable source, is a major step forward for us in the sense of having a stable supply as well as of reducing costs.”
He continued, “Although I do not rule out the possibility of bringing this helium into Japan, the opportunities are increasing for us to become very active in the global market such as India and the Middle East which are located closer to Qatar.”
Qatar began helium production in 2003. While the original plant, Qatar I, offered French and German firms, Air Liquide and Linde, rights to the annual 20 million m³ of helium produced at the plant. The new Qatar II Project has doubled production capacity, allowing the European monopoly to be broken. Similarly, this new deal anticipates a medium to long term shortage of supply.
Among those interested in direct importation rights were the European majors Air Liquide and Linde, alongside Praxair, Air Products and Matheson Tri-Gas. Subsequently those chosen on a ‘take or pay’ price were Iwatani who secured 20%, Air Liquide with 50% of production and Linde who gained 30%.
Operation is expected to commence at the new plant in early 2013, while the contract is for 20 years with an expiry date of 2032.