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The global helium market is expected to be driven by applications across sectors, such as medical, advertising, law enforcement, defence, research, and manufacturing. MRI, lifting, semiconductors and analytical/labs are leading applications. It is expected that the semiconductor industry would be worth nearly $1 trillion by the year 2030. The semiconductor industry witnessed a robust year in 2021, with strong growth in virtual connectivity. Demand for helium in the semiconductor segment is strongly correlated with chief vacuum processes, and helium intensity is increasing with advancements in semiconductor devices. North America, Europe and Asia Pacific are expected to be key markets. Qatar, USA, Algeria, Australia and Russia are important producers of the gas.
Leading companies have been striving to increase capacities and enhance helium production. For example, in 2022, Air Products revealed the world’s largest helium storage cavern. Situated several thousand feet below the surface, it was the first helium storage cavern in the USA. The company held exclusive rights to the helium cavern through a long-term storage services agreement. However, an explosion and fire at Gazprom’s Amur natural gas processing facility in January 2022 indicated that helium production would remain offline for the next few months.
In 2021, Gazprom opened the first of three helium production lines at its Amur gas-processing plant in south-eastern Russia, bringing 20 million cubic metres per year of new helium capacity on-line. Gazprom also commissioned a logistics centre to feed liquid helium into cryogenic containers for shipping. The complex was expected to help increase the global helium supply by nearly 11%. In 2018, Linde Group and Gazprom Export LLC entered into a Sale and Purchase Agreement for the offtake of helium from Gazprom’s new Amur helium plant (then under construction), as part of the development of Gazprom’s “Power of Siberia” gas project.
In 2021, Air Liquide entered into long-term partnership with Laurentis Energy Partners to make and distribute helium-3 (3He). The new partnership would enable Air Liquide to deliver large quantities of helium-3 to customers across the globe. Such developments are likely to drive the global helium market.
In 2021, Air Liquide successfully delivered the largest helium purification plant in Canada, thus materializing a contract the company had signed with North American Helium for the supply of a customizable helium purification solution employing its sophisticated membrane technology. The plant would support North America Helium's site in southwest Saskatchewan - the largest helium production plant in Canada.
In 2022, Xebec signed an agreement with Air Liquide for the exclusive supply of Xebec’s pressure swing adsorption (“PSA”) technology to Air Liquide Advanced Technology US, for North American based helium projects. The partnership would enable both companies to combine each other’s proprietary technologies. Xebec’s strong PSA platform would be deployed alongside Air Liquide’s membrane technology to create a two-stage system that would efficiently purify helium from geological sources.
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Market Analysis by Phase, Application, End User and Region:
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