RasGas Company Limited (RasGas) has announced the award of two major contracts linked to the upcoming Qatar III helium plant (Helium 3), to Air Products and Chiyoda AlMana, respectively.
The new Helium 3 plant is expected to produce up to 0.4 billion standard cubic feet of liquid helium per annum. It will be located in Ras Laffan Industrial City, home to the existing Helium 1 and 2 plants, and is expected to become operational in early 2018. Air Products has been awarded the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the long-term helium supply from Helium 3, as well as the Technology License to supply the helium licensor package equipment for the new plant. Meanwhile, the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Agreement has been awarded to Chiyoda AlMana. Qatar Petroleum (QP) President and CEO, Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, described the signing of the agreements as an important building block for Qatar’s third helium project, which symbolises QP’s policy and continuous efforts to utilise the State’s hydrocarbon resources and create added value for its national economy. Al-Kaabi also thanked RasGas for its efforts in achieving Helium 3, thus contributing to the optimisation of Qatar’s North Field resources, and realising the elements of Qatar National Vision 2030 to build a better future for generations to come.
The Helium 3 project in Qatar has long been the source of speculation concerning its start date and expected capacity. gasworld understood earlier this year that the installation would be smaller than the original Qatar 1 plant, but will provide a considerable boost to the global helium market in the future. It has now been confirmed that the plant – managed and operated by RasGas on behalf of Barzan shareholders, QP and ExxonMobil – is expected to produce up to 0.4 billion standard cubic feet of liquid helium per annum. An off-take bid package was issued in October (2014), with RasGas inviting all industrial gas companies who meet the mandatory requirements to submit a bid for the project. The scope of work entailed entering into an SPA which requires the buyer to lift anywhere between 10% and 100% of the total refined helium produced by the Helium 3 Refinery. Mandatory requirements of the bid included the buyer possessing the financial strength, logistical capability and access to support and lift a minimum of 40 helium containers per year. It has now been confirmed that Air Products has secured the SPA; this will see the company build upon its existing relationship with RasGas in other business and markets, having previously supplied the natural gas liquefaction technology, key liquefaction equipment, and helium extraction boxes for all 14 LNG trains for RasGas and Qatargas, as well as the large air separation plant for Oryx GTL, which are all located in Ras Laffan. In achieving this, the company will again be the world’s largest commercial supplier of helium when the plant begins production in 2018. Walter Nelson, Vice-President and General Manager – Global Helium at Air Products, enthused, “These are two very big accomplishments for our company. The equipment win to build the helium plant demonstrates RasGas’ confidence in Air Products as a global supplier of high technology gas processing equipment and helium technology.” “Just as importantly, the long-term helium supply contract win demonstrates to our many customers our dedication to them in ensuring a consistent and reliable helium supply.”
RasGas also manages and operates the Ras Laffan Helium 1 and 2 plants. Helium 2 became the world’s largest helium purification and liquefaction unit upon start-up in July 2013 and reached 100% production capacity less than a year later. According to Hamad Mubarak Al-Muhannadi, CEO of RasGas, the new Helium 3 plant will also deliver milestones of its own. He explained, “The Helium 3 project’s source of supply is unique, with extraction processes unlike any of the previous two helium plants.” “This is a new achievement for RasGas, and I am pleased with our ability to leverage existing available capabilities in the country.”