Tier One player Praxair, Inc. has reinforced its European supply of helium (He) after signing a long-term contract with the only He producer in Central Europe.

The length of the deal with Polish oil and gas company Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA (PGNiG) was not revealed, but it understood that it fortifies Praxair’s offering into the European He market.

Amer Akhras, General Manager of Praxair’s Global Helium business, stressed, “Through this agreement, Praxair gains a high-quality, proven source that enhances the efficiency and reliability of our He supply into Europe.”

Although financial details of the contract were also undisclosed, PGNiG’s Managing Director, Tomasz Jaskolski, stated, “We are very pleased to have reached this agreement with Praxair, a leader in the global He industry.”

The Odolanow plant in west-central Poland first came on-stream in 1977 and currently produces around 100 million cubic feet of He per year.

State of over-supply

The global He market is experiencing a state of over-supply at present, although this is expected to balance out in the near future. Phil Kornbluth President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting, LLC, has been a specialist in the helium business industry for the last 33 years. He indicated, “I do not foresee a near-term spike in demand or any new applications that are significant enough to ‘move the needle’ for global demand.”

“With only modest new capacity expected to enter the market in before 2018, actions and events may curtail supply sufficiently to bring He markets back into a more balanced state by 2016.”