Helium Shortage 3.0 will likely ease in the second half of 2020, but that does not mean it’s going away anytime soon – in fact it will remain until 2021.

In the long-term, a different looking market may exist by 2025, driven by a raft of new projects coming on-stream.

Those were the key takeaways from Phil Kornbluth, President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting, during his closing keynote speech at gasworld’s MENA Industrial Gases Conference 2019 in Dubai.

Kornbluth was providing an update on the global helium business today and the status of its latest market imbalance, Helium Shortage 3.0.

He reviewed expected new sources that are set to enter the market and also dispelled the mainstream media misconception that demand growth has caused the current shortage, stressing that if anything, the opposite is true.

“I think the shortage is now in the 10% range, having peaked at around 40% in July/August 2019 when the ExxonMobil and Arzew plants were subject to maintenance shutdowns and temporarily ramped up the deficit.”

“The shortage should ease a little during the second half of 2020,” he explained, while pointing out that “ease doesn’t mean go away. It just means it won’t be quite so severe.”

Kornbluth cautioned that these projections were based on planned new sources entering the market, but “these new projects never come on early so it’s difficult to say with any certainty.”

The projects in question are Arzew, Algeria (425 mmcf/2020 Q3), Gazprom’s Amur Project in Russia (700 mmcf/2021 Q2) and Qatar (425 mmcf/2020 Q3).

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2025 – a very different market

In terms of the longer-term outlook, Kornbluth says a new look market could be upon us by 2025, once a raft of new projects come on-stream and start delivering capacity.

“My feeling is that over-supply is more likely than shortages after the Gazprom Amur plant comes on-stream in 2021,” he said.

“The message is, there’s a lot of projects coming over the next few years, and that’s exciting because we haven’t had that outlook for a while.”

“So a very different market could exist by 2025,” he concluded, “but as always, crystal ball projections are not easy to make.”

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A full review will be published in the January 2020 edition of gasworld magazine.

The gasworld events stage now moves on to Munich in April 2020, for the Hydrogen Summit 2020 and introducing H2 View to the events scene. For more information on all gasworld events in the year ahead, from Munich to Malaysia, visit www.gasworldconferences.com