Helium: Here we go again, potentially


For the second time in less than 12 months, we are staring at the prospect of another global helium shortage.

While last year’s feared shortage – brought about by the rather abrupt Qatar embargo situation in the summer – was short-lived at just a three-week shutdown, this new warning appears to have the hallmarks of a potentially more sustained impact.

At the very least, it further highlights the market’s fragilities and reliance upon the BLM-operated US Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo (Texas), so soon after its exposure to geopolitical events had been starkly underlined.

At the heart of the industry is a reliance on a few mega-sources. Around 75% of all the helium consumed around the world is produced at three locations – Ras Laffan Industrial city in Qatar, ExxonMobil in Wyoming, US, and those helium refining facilities linked to the BLM Pipeline.

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