Global Helium Market

Helium is a vital element for a number of major technologies that affect our lives every day, but the ability of existing and planned sources of helium supply to meet future demand is highly uncertain.

A number of factors have come together to create a precarious situation, starting with the 1996 decision by the US government to sell off nearly its entire stockpile of helium, stored in a depleted natural gas field in Amarillo, Texas.  This created an increase in supply and artificially depressed prices for much of the last decade.  This helium reserve will be fully consumed over the next few years, and currently is not a reliable supply source with only limited deliverability. It is expected that the United States will become a net importer of Helium in the next few years as a result of rising domestic demand from the semiconductor and space exploration industries.

Global reserves of helium are rare and only found in a few places around the world, typically in very low concentrations. Most helium is associated with conventional natural gas production which is only made economic through large scale cryogenic LNG plants located in Russia, Qatar, and Algeria, all of which have inherent significant geopolitical risk. 

Helium discoveries in Western Canada have illustrated the large potential for new sources of helium and our Company, North American Helium, is at the forefront of advancing the development of significant helium production in Saskatchewan that will be needed in North America and potentially worldwide. 

Recent shortages have made existing helium demand less elastic and quickly-maturing new sources of helium demand could increase the rate of demand growth.

Of these new sources of demand, amongst the fastest growing in North America is the demand for helium in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. An eroding share of global manufacturing capacity coupled with a widespread global semiconductor shortage, prompted the US government to pass the CHIPS for America Act and the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) in 2021. USICA specifically included $52 billion to bolster domestic chip manufacturing, research and design. 

It is clear that helium’s unique physical properties make it increasingly vital to both our present and our future.