Air Products' Helium Director Talks Market Supply Solutions at EIGA
LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., Jan. 30, 2013
LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --"Like fossil fuels, helium
is a finite resource. While the known supplies are sufficient to meet demand
for more than 100 years, and with advances in exploration and drilling,
chances are that we may find even more, this finite resource must be managed,"
is the message Walter Nelson, director of Helium sourcing at Air Products
(NYSE: APD) delivered today at the European Industrial Gas Association (EIGA)
Symposium in Brussels, Belgium.
Air Products is one of the largest helium refiners in the United States and a
leading supplier globally. There has been much discussion recently about the
tightness in the market and the availability of helium. Nelson's presentation
discussed all aspects of the helium business: where helium comes from; its
uses and market demand; availability and distribution; supply shortage; and
conservation and recycling efforts. Most importantly, Nelson presented the
key actions necessary to maintain and increase helium supply for today and
The importance of an available helium supply to society is easily demonstrated
by its many uses. The largest end-user market segments for helium are the
health industry with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MRI manufacturing,
and the semi-conductor industry. Scientific research, and traditional uses
such as cutting and welding, balloons and lifting applications, diving gas
mixtures and analytical and leak detection, are several other end-uses for the
Addressing tightness in the helium market, Nelson said that we are seeing a
shortage of helium supply resulting from limits in natural gas and liquefied
natural gas (LNG) production as well as some existing production plant
disruptions around the globe. There are no naturally-occurring underground
reservoirs of pure helium. Helium is a byproduct of natural gas production.
"The current shortage in the helium market is unprecedented. Investments by
the energy sector are necessary to develop and employ helium recovery with
natural gas processing where there is helium present," he said. "Not all
natural gas fields are alike. Part of the decline in helium production is due
to companies focusing their natural gas drilling efforts on natural gas that
is rich in liquids rather than 'dry gas' which typically has more helium."
One additional key factor of looming impact to helium supply is legislation
currently being considered by the United States (U.S.) Congress related to the
U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) helium reservoir, which currently
supplies 30% of the global helium demand. "U.S. legislators undoubtedly need
to pass legislation soon to extend the BLM operations and preserve the
availability of this important source of supply. Unless, this legislation
passes and BLM has renewed authority to continue to operate the federal
reservoir, all of the helium that remains in the reserve would be
inaccessible. The impact on the U.S. and the world in terms of helium
availability would be chaotic. Renewed or new legislation granting the BLM the
authority it needs to continue to supply helium would bridge the time period
necessary for new announced natural gas and helium production plants to come
onstream," Nelson said.
The new sources of helium to come onstream Nelson was referring to include: a
new natural gas facility to supply a new Wyoming helium plant, in which Air
Products has an ownership interest; an LNG and helium project in Qatar; and
additional LNG and helium production expected in Algeria. All these projects
are targeted to be onstream in 2013. "Only after these three new helium
sources are operational and existing plants are again running at normal rates
will the global helium supply begin to fully stabilize. This is why the U.S.
legislation to continue BLM supply is so critical to so many industries,"
Nelson also touched on steps that end-users and manufacturers must take to
help conserve helium at the point of use, and encouraged them to make the
investments necessary to recover and recycle helium where practical.
"Provided we do all these things, and they are all attainable, we should have
more than sufficient quantities of helium available for end-users and
manufacturers for years to come," Nelson concluded.
About Air Products
Air Products (NYSE: APD) provides atmospheric, process and specialty gases;
performance materials; equipment; and technology. For over 70 years, the
company has enabled customers to become more productive, energy efficient and
sustainable. More than 20,000 employees in over 50 countries supply innovative
solutions to the energy, environment and emerging markets. These include
semiconductor materials, refinery hydrogen, coal gasification, natural gas
liquefaction, and advanced coatings and adhesives. In fiscal 2012, Air
Products had sales of approaching $10 billion. For more information, visit
NOTE: This release may contain forward-looking statements within the safe
harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
These forward-looking statements are based on management's reasonable
expectations and assumptions as of the date of this release regarding
important risk factors. Actual performance and financial results may differ
materially from projections and estimates expressed in the forward-looking
statements because of many factors not anticipated by management, including
risk factors described in the Company's Form 10K for its fiscal year ended
September 30, 2012.
SOURCE Air Products
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