Intelligas’ assessment of the worldwide supply of helium is about 5.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for 2023, up from about 5.7 Bcf in 2022 – back where we were in 2021.
We forecast that worldwide supply will be short of demand until late 2024 if the large new sources of helium come onstream. The shortage that began in early 2022 when Amur suffered explosions at its first two LNG trains is still having an impact. And history has taught those of us in the helium business that large plants typically incur delays due to unexpected technical issues. Plenty of uncertainty remains.
While 2022 was marked by shortage due to the series of unrelated events (see ‘The 2022 worldwide helium market’, August 2022, gasworld US Edition, p.30), so far 2023 has not experienced such disruptions at major sources – but several issues still linger, like reduced helium supply from Algeria and Amur having been down until recently.
Next to this, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been operating well. It was down for planned maintenance mid-April and was back to normal production by May 1. ExxonMobil went down for planned maintenance for about a month beginning July 10. The global economic weakness has dampened demand for helium, too, alleviating some supply challenges. But sometimes slower container shipping remains an issue. As helium suppliers works to deliver under these conditions, it is a reminder that the helium supply chain is fragile.
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