Indian industrial gas supplier AirLife Gases has started up a liquid helium transfill facility in Pune, India, which will intake containers capable of holding 11,000 gallons of bulk liquid helium mainly from sources in Qatar and North America.

Announced yesterday, 25th May, the facility will enable AirLife Gases to fill high pressure cylinders, tube trailers, quads, and liquid helium dewars for customers throughout Pan India. 

In addition to its helium export plans for its customers in Asian Markets, AirLife Gases supplies the North American market through its subsidiary AirLife Gases USA. 

Under a long-term agreement with North American Helium, Inc, the company is supplied with bulk liquid helium from the Battle Creek Plant in southwestern Saskatchewan, Canada. 

Three of the specialised 11,000 gallon cryogenic containers used to transport the liquid gas are owned by AirLife Gases, with an additional three containers on order for July 2022 delivery. 

Commenting on the new facility, Kiran Karnawat, Founder, CEO, Managing Director, AirLife, said, “I am already excited to launch our new state-of-the-art transfill facility in Pune and to re-enter the Helium Business after an absence of several years” 

“We plan to build AirLife into one of the leading suppliers of helium throughout India during the coming years” 

AirLife Gases’ re-entry into the helium supply market has come during a lengthy shortage period, labelled by expert Phil Kornbluth as ‘Helium Shortage 4.0’. 

Following the four-month maintenance outage of the US Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) crude helium enrichment unit, it was anticipated that Gazprom’s Amur Project would begin to satiate the high demand for helium. 

However, shortly after production began, the plant was taken down to complete construction punch-list items and – while out of commission – the Amur plant experienced a fire on 8th October 2021, followed by a second explosion/fire on 5th January 2022. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February could also cause long-term consequences upon the global helium supply.

Read more: Russian invasion of Ukraine will impact future helium supply

Helium supply is expected to improve later this year, with signs indicating that the BLM’s Crude Helium Enrichment Unit (CHEU) is set to reopen within the next month or so, an event that could increase the world’s helium supply by greater than 10% compared to recent levels, according to Kornbluth. 

Other positive developments include the cancellation of a planned maintenance outage at ExxonMobil’s Shute Creek, Wyoming plant – the largest US source of helium, and Air Products’ soon-to-be complete Arzew Expansion Project.