Helison Production Spa, a joint venture between Algerian gas and oil company Sonatrach and The Linde Group, has announced that it successfully delivered its 100th container of helium at its plant in Skikda, Algeria in late September, marking a milestone in liquid helium production at the site.

Designed and built by Linde Engineering, the helium plant was handed over to Helison Production on 20th June 2006 and since commencing operations in April 2007, the plant has been supplying most of the helium that Linde sells on the European market.

Dr Hocine Laidouni, deputy managing director of Helison Production, commented on the landmark, “The 100th helium container produced in Skikda marks an important milestone in the development of the Helium industry in Algeria. We are operating a best-in-class helium plant and look forward to continue working with Linde to consolidate our position as one of the most reliable helium sources worldwide.”

Currently, the Skikda plant has a capacity of 1,300 tpy, with between 4-6 containers of helium filled at the plant each week. However, a newly built LNG plant in Skikda, which is expected to be operational by the end of 2011, will increase the total helium production to 13 containers per week or 3000 tpy respectively.

Sonatrach supplies the feed gas – a mixture consisting of helium, nitrogen and methane – to Helison from the three LNG plants they own and operate in Skikda. In this process of helium manufacturing, the nitrogen is separated, liquefied and delivered back to Sonatrach for use in the industry, while the methane is returned to the LNG complex and used to produce steam. The Helison plant is, therefore, emission-free.

Skikda is located on the Mediterranean coastline, close to the Tunisian border and 600km east of Algiers.