Regular readers will be aware of a number of recent fluctuations in the demand and availability of helium. It is perhaps little surprise then that prices are beginning to creep upwards, particularly in North America.

Indeed, this week Air Products announced a price increase on North American liquid and bulk helium gases. Effective 1st September 2011, or as contracts allow, the industrial gas firm will be implementing a price increase of 15% for liquid and bulk helium gases in North America.

In a public statement, the company commented, “The pricing adjustment is the result of several factors including the continued strong demand over the past year for helium and significant reductions in supply. The helium market has been tight across the globe with product allocations implemented by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and with many other global helium sources producing below capacity.”

Air Products added, “Additionally, new helium sources located primarily outside of the U.S. are extremely expensive, wholesale prices for crude and processed liquid helium have increased, and costs have escalated for power and diesel.”

The view ahead
In light of this change, Air Products offered a sensible forecast for the short-term horizon: “Air Products’ worldwide helium team is managing this difficult situation on a daily basis so that it can continue to bring uninterruptible supply to customers. It is expected that demand will exceed supply for the next two to three years, thus creating ongoing shortages in the market.”