Yesterday, Linde Gases announced the award of a long-term contract to supply helium from the Qatar Helium 2 Project. Production is due to begin early in 2013.

With an annual production capacity of 40 million m³, the Qatar Helium 2 Project will lead Qatar to become the world’s largest helium exporter. Steve Penn, Global Head of Merchant and Packaged Gases with Linde, described the contract as, “an important supply agreement for Linde.”

He commented, “It is our second helium agreement for supply from Qatar and, along with our recently opened helium plant in Darwin, Australia and our Algerian joint venture Helison, it confirms our position as the supplier with access to the most diversified helium source portfolio.$quot;

$quot;As global demand for helium increases, Linde’s Qatar supply will allow us to satisfy our customer’s growing helium needs and shield them from potential industry supply constraints.”

The Qatar Helium 2 Project will produce liquid helium from the helium-rich stream resulting from expanding the LNG facility. The facility is supplied from Qatar’s North Field in the Arabian Gulf which itself has reserves of more than 25 trillion cubic metres.

Rising demand for helium in the medical sector in particular is fuelling increased requirement for the gas. The new agreement constitutes 30% of total helium production output and will enable Linde to meet customer demand.