Published April 2022
Because helium is traded mainly as a liquid product below its boiling point of 4.2 K (–269.0°C), helium is a justin- time product with a highly fragile supply chain that can easily be disrupted. As helium is critical to several industries such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and semiconductor manufacturing, any supply disruptions have a severe impact on dependent industries. Throughout the past 10 years, the global helium market suffered under several massive supply constraints, which caused severe shortages and greatly reduced demand as consumers started to either substitute or recycle helium.
Commercially, helium is recovered from natural gas deposits. Helium is typically extracted from heliumbearing natural gas by a low-temperature separation that removes the crude helium (containing mostly nitrogen and helium) as a gas from the natural gas portion (mainly hydrocarbons).
The following pie chart shows world consumption of helium:
Worldwide, helium is available from only a few sources. Helium is listed on the critical materials list of major economies such as the United States, the European Union, and mainland China because it is at high risk of supply shortages that could have a significant economic impact. Five fields alone supply about 80% of the world’s helium. Production outages or slowdowns from one of these five fields will have a severe impact on the global helium supply, making the helium supply chain sensitive to shock. The United States is still the major producer, but most new sources are developing elsewhere. The bulk of US production is related to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the world’s largest helium reserve. In recent years, BLM-related production has diminished considerably. Helium is a global product in tight supply and any disruptions create shortages and dislocation.
Growth in the global demand for helium is driven by rising demand for MRI, along with growth in the electronics, semiconductor, LCD, and fiber optic industries. Semiconductor manufacturing, flat-panel display manufacturing, and optical fiber manufacturing are all significant consumers of helium in Asia, especially in mainland China, India, South Korea, and Taiwan.
For more detailed information, see the table of contents, shown below.
S&P Global’s Chemical Economics Handbook – Helium is the comprehensive and trusted guide for anyone seeking information on this industry. This latest report details global and regional information, including
S&P Global’s Chemical Economics Handbook – Helium has been compiled using primary interviews with key suppliers and organizations, and leading representatives from the industry in combination with S&P Global’s unparalleled access to upstream and downstream market intelligence and expert insights into industry dynamics, trade, and economics.
This report can help you
- Identify trends and driving forces influencing chemical markets
- Forecast and plan for future demand
- Understand the impact of competing materials
- Identify and evaluate potential customers and competitors
- Evaluate producers
- Track changing prices and trade movements
- Analyze the impact of feedstocks, regulations, and other factors on chemical profitability