The first-ever Global Helium Summit is underway in London, UK, exploring the trends, technologies and dynamics in the helium supply chain.

More than 100 delegates from 16 countries have gathered at the Royal Garden Hotel today for the event, highlighting the global scale of the challenges faced in the helium business.

Hosted by gasworld Conferences, the summit is the first event of its kind and provides a platform for insight, discussion and knowledge exchange about one of the hottest topics in the scientific community.

It comes at a crucial time in the global helium market.

While the strong demand for helium has remained steady, a number of shortcomings in supply have led to worldwide shortages, across a wide range of end-user sectors.

From science to healthcare (MRI) to diving applications and party balloons, industry has struggled to quench its thirst for helium.

Planned and unplanned outages at key source sites, coupled with a lack of new capacity entering the market, have restricted supply.

Meanwhile, against this backdrop, fears have intensified concerning the future fate of the BLM-operated US Federal Helium Reserve in Texas, as the clock ticks on new legislation to govern this resource – thought to currently account for up to 30% of global supply. All of which has led to the recently coined phrase, the ‘Helium Cliff’.

These dynamics, as well as ongoing questions about the future supply chain through to 2020, all make up a both pressing and progressive agenda at today’s summit. Gasworld’s Conferences and Events Manager Becky Palmer explains, “In the heart of London, we are delighted to have brought together industry professionals and experts from all areas of the gas industry including research, supply and distribution, to discuss a topic that is at the forefront of everyone’s mind; the changing state of the global helium market.”

“From the ‘Helium Shortage 2.0’ to the more recent ‘Helium Cliff’ there has been much speculation on the future of this valuable noble gas. As the industry eagerly anticipates long-awaited new capacity entering the market, the fate of the Federal Helium Reserve intensifies in 2013…we will be discussing whether everything is being done to ensure the market recovers from its current situation.”

Insight

A packed programme of speakers and debate is already underway in West London, with some of the biggest and most esteemed figures within the industry lined up to share their insights.

Key speakers include:

· Walter Nelson, Air Products

· Nick Haines, Linde Gas

· Gerard Tan, Air Liquide

· Phil Kornbluth, Global Gases

· Siemens Magnet Technology

· Gazprom

Keep abreast of all the latest news, views and developments at the Global Helium Summit via the gasworld website, updated throughout the day.