A tight market in-progress; shortages seemingly never far away; a market evidently exposed to geopolitical risks; and a number of future supply scenarios in the mix. The global helium business might be described as something of a tinder box ready to catch light in the months and years ahead. Discussion and debate around this hot topic is sparking into life in Houston, Texas, right now as the Global Helium Summit gets underway in the traditional home state of helium production. Nearly 300 delegates from 24 countries have gathered at the Marriott Marquis Hotel ready to tackle the key talking points in a market that has once again found itself tightening, and questioning what the future holds once supply from the Amarillo, Texas-based US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is taken off the commercial table in 2021.
For the second time in 12 months, the industry is staring at the prospect of another global helium shortage. A central factor in this is that the BLM’s continuing allocation of crude helium feedgas to the helium refining facilities linked to the BLM Pipeline has significantly reduced US production. Other factors contributing to tight supply are supply shortfalls at other non-BLM sources, both in the US and overseas, and delays of new sources that were expected to enter the market in 2018. Meanwhile, the market has experienced an uptick in helium demand. The helium business experienced significant demand destruction during Helium Shortage 2.0 (2011-2013) and there had been meagre demand growth during the ensuing years, but with all of the major economies back in growth mode, helium demand growth finally seems to be returning to the market. With the only material boost to supply coming from the BLM’s installation of central compression, no other significant new supply expected to enter the helium market before 2019, and the expectation of continued demand growth, global helium markets may experience a tenuous balance between supply and demand for the remainder of 2018.
Against this backdrop, the third ever Global Helium Summit – hosted by gasworld Conferences – provides a platform for insight, discussion and knowledge exchange about one of the hottest topics in the industrial gases community. Entitled Transitioning to Life Beyond the BLM, the one-day event will provide insight into the major issues facing the helium business, including the declining capacity of the US BLM’s Helium Pipeline, the coming privatisation of the BLM’s helium assets, and the anticipated emergence of Gazprom as a major player in helium markets. Gasworld’s CEO John Raquet has officially commenced proceedings, stating, ”Good morning ladies and gentleman, or should I say from Texas, howdy – welcome to our Global Helium Summit. I have to say wow, what an audience and I really mean that I am so pleased to see so many of you here and the numbers surpass anything that we’d ever really thought of.” ”In London, when we held our first Helium Summit, we had about 120 delegates. Then in 2016 we had 155 in New Jersey and today, according to what’s just come in from registration, we have 308 here. That’s terrific. I want to thank you all for coming and hope you enjoy the Summit.”
The one-day summit is split into two sessions with key industry insiders lined up to share their insights. Topics on the agenda include:
Helium Market Overview – The Big Picture
BLM Operations & Privatisation
Gazprom’s Amur Project
Qatar – Status & New Normal Logistics
Impact of the Praxair/Linde Merger