Signs of optimism after widespread challenges for helium


A year of supply constraints, shipping pressures and rising prices – coupled with wars and accidents, healthcare challenges and soaring semiconductor demand – have created a perfect storm for operators grappling with ‘Helium shortage 4.0’.

Yet the clear message from the ‘Global helium and the role of MENA in the supply chain’ session, on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi MENA Industrial Gases 2022 conference, is there are plenty of grounds for optimism, whether that’s through new products, fresh or returning capacity and market developments.

The market has experienced unprecedented pressures primarily due to the natural gas explosion at Gazprom/Amur, but if and when it returns next year, it is expected to make a significant contribution to supply and help moderate prices, together with a robust pipeline of other new projects. Delegates heard just under 2.9bcf of new supply is expected to come on stream to 2026.

The one major caveat is ongoing geopolitical risks which will continue to present uncertainty. Russia’s slice of the helium pie is projected to increase from around 2% to as much as 26% in 2026, although North America (53-37%) and Qatar (31-27%) are both expected to remain dominant over the next four years, despite losing share.

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