Is there a Helium shortage in 2023? Helium gas is used around the world. It is used in various laboratories for scientific research as an active ingredient in the study. It is also used in decoration and celebration-based businesses as it is integral to party decoration.
Scientific labs worldwide have been facing a shortage of helium gas for a long time. In 2021 and 2022, almost all the science labs in the world could not get 65% of their helium gas and needed more supply. This causes a massive problem in these labs as they cannot perform their daily functions.
Due to this ongoing crisis, helium gas prices have also increased. With time, the demand for helium gas in the scientific industry is growing exponentially and will not decrease. This means that helium production has to be increased to keep up with future demands. But right now, even the current market still needs to be met.
Earlier labs used to pay higher prices to get a sufficient supply of Helium. But even if a particular lab is ready to spend a lot of money to get Helium, even then, it’s yet to be available in the market. This means that the supply is meager, which can be concerning.
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Future of helium production
Until 2021, 51% of the world’s Helium was produced in the United States of America. By 2025, the United States of America will be making only 37% of the world’s Helium. This has been predicted because the over-dependency of other countries over the United States of America for Helium has caused a lot of supply chain-related issues.
Also, the United States of America has yet to be able to fulfill the demand of its people. This is why helium production will be distributed to reduce the dependency on just one country, and many other countries will enter the helium production market.
Similarly, Qatar also produces 34% of the world’s Helium right now. By 2025 this production is expected to fall to 26%. The reason is also the same. Seeing this continuous under-supply, many countries will be stepping up to produce Helium to cure the problem of helium deficiency.
But right now, the country has yet to come up to confirm that they will be starting the production of Helium. Many labs and concerned businesses have become very tense about their supply of Helium and the future ahead.
Low supply from Russia
Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many countries have cut their official ties with Russia. They have stopped any trade with Russia on a national or international level. But this is also why the world is gripped with a situation of global inflation right now. Everything you want is low in supply, and prices are increasing rapidly. Similar is the situation with Russia.
Currently, Russia produces 3% of the world’s Helium. Although it’s a small number, it is expected that Russia will grow its helium market to 21% compared to 3%. This is a massive expansion, and all those countries that have cut their ties with Russia will not be able to enjoy the benefit of this expansion.
This is why even if Russia is supposedly the future of Helium production, only a few countries expect anything from Russia. This is because all the nations have stopped trading goods with Russia, and the practice will likely continue for the coming years. This means that Russia expanding or not expanding Helium will not be beneficial to these countries.
An outage of the bureau of land
One of the main reasons why the production of Helium has been down in the United States of America is because the bureau of land has been down since January 2021. The bureau of land was solely responsible for producing 10% of the world’s Helium. Since it has not been functioning to its asset’s utmost potential for a very long period, there has been a global shortage of Helium.
Initially, it was said that the bureau of land would be back functioning in a couple of months. But it has been a very long time since it has been completely shut down. No one has taken any official responsibility for the same, and no confirmed date has been released as of yet. Everything is entirely unexpected, and it is likely that as long as the bureau of land is shut down, the supply shortage will continue.
According to some sources, the government is working on solving this problem as soon as possible. This means that it is a positive sign, and whenever the bureau of the land issue is sorted, the helium problem will be solved very quickly.
How to solve the current problem of a helium shortage?
Right now, the whole world, in solidarity, is facing a crisis of helium shortage. The new production house or country has yet to decide to contribute to the production of Helium. This means that everyone needs to look for an alternative to helium gas. This will decrease not only the demand for Helium but also its price.
Many industries worldwide have used hydrogen and nitrogen as carrier gasses instead of Helium in their GCs. These glasses are often termed unsafe by many people, which is why they are not used as rapidly as Helium. But they can be used with many safety precautions such as internal leak detection, mechanical fail-safes in case of high pressure, and automatic shutdown features.
There are a lot of companies that offer hydrogen generation facilities. In the meantime, all those industries and individuals who could not get their due supply of Helium can use hydrogen and nitrogen-powered generators to carry on their tasks. Whenever the problem of helium supply is solved, they can return to using Helium again.
Where is Helium used?
The world has witnessed a problem with helium production and a previous decrease in supply. Since 2006, it is the fourth time since the world has seen an issue of decline in the collection of Helium. This time, the problem is more intense because of multiple factors, such as low supply from the United States of America and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, due to which exports have been cut off from Russia.
Helium is a significant gas in a lot of industries. Scientists use it in compressed form to carry out many scientific activities. It is also used in high-speed TV internet and other things such as computer hard drives, microscopes, airbags in cars, mobile phones, computers, and tablet chips. The temperature of nuclear reactors tends to get very high, which is why Helium is used as a cooler.
But right now, the essential laws of Helium are in the development of magnetic resonance imaging which is generally known as MRI. The discovery of MRI has been revolutionary in the healthcare industry and has helped in the solution of a lot of medical problems. Doctors can figure out so many things about the patient’s body through the help of MRIs. The cure for a lot of complex healthcare problems has been invented because of an MRI. It can generate images of the human body below -269° and even at very high temperatures. Since the discovery of MRIs, healthcare industries have been operating very efficiently and making a lot of progress for the benefit of humanity.
Causes of Helium shortage
Many people know that Helium is one of the rarest gasses naturally found on the earth’s surface. This means that its reserves are not high naturally, and now that many industries have become dependent on this gas, the stored resources are depleting very fast. Also, the exciting thing about Helium is that once it excalea from the source that it is found at, it cannot be trapped back into your helium containers or cylinders. This is why its extraction is complicated compared to many other natural gasses found on the surface of the earth.
Currently, very few countries contribute to the production of Helium. Slight fluctuations make a huge difference in the outcome and can cause significant differences. For example, helium production in Qatar has depleted significantly since 2017. This has bothered many people, and they have been worried about the future of Helium and all the industries that depend on it. A lot of scientists feared that they would have to stop their helium-related experiments because liquid Helium has a particular boiling point. Any changes would destroy the whole purpose of carrying out the investigation.
Hospitals are the most significant users of Helium, using up 32% of the total Helium produced in the world. This means that the whole healthcare industry depends on the production of Helium. There will be a significant impact due to the decrease in the supply of Helium on the treatment of patients. This is a grave matter, so the government had to take involvement in it. Many hospitals have been given subsidies over film supply and are prioritized over other industries. This is because the health of individuals in a country is more important than any different kind of production or scientific expedition.
Another primary user of helium gas is the balloon decoration industry. Balloon decorators use around 18% of the Helium in the world for decoration purposes. Helium balloons or a major decoration item in weddings and birthday celebrations. Other festivals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are also significant locations where killing balloons are used. Now gender reveal parties also use extravagant balloon decorations for celebration purposes. People of all ages like these balloons, and they find balloons intriguing.
Effect of helium deficiency in Canada
Currently, countries like Algeria, Russia, Qatar, and the United States of America Are the major players in the production of Helium. These are the countries that supply Helium to the rest of the world. But due to fluctuations in the output of Helium in these countries, there is potential for a lot of other countries to enter this market and make their game strong. There has been a constant increase in the demand for Helium from Asian countries. Canada has a lot of geographical areas which have a great potential to produce Helium.
The government of Canada has yet to utilize its many areas to their full potential, and now that the whole world is facing a shortage of Helium, Canada can take full advantage of areas such as Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan has excellent potential and is the largest supplier of Helium in Canada. Canada currently has a potential area of helium extraction of 7,0000,000,000 ft.³, making it the fifth largest in the world. Due to this reason, a lot of people have been making investments in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
People have been eyeing Canada as it can become the next big thing in the market of Helium production. Situations are unprecedented right now, and a lot of things can happen which are unexpected. The Canadian government has targeted producing at least 10% Helium by 2030. This doesn’t feel like an impossible goal and is something Canada will be able to fulfill quickly. Who knows that Canada would take over the United States of America some years later and becomes the prime supplier of the United States of America?
The world has been facing the problem of helium shortage for over 15 years now. This is not a new problem and has occurred many times before 2021. Every time the government of different countries and the primary producers of Helium can come up with a solution. But this time, this low supply has stretched for a very long period, due to which People have become apprehensive.
Industries such as health care and science, balloon decoration, and other related areas have become worried. It is because their livelihood depends on the sole production of Helium. Many scientists and researchers have devised new ideas to substitute Helium and other gasses such as hydrogen and nitrogen. But there are a lot of risk factors associated with these gasses. The operational cost of managing the security checks is also very high. After using gasses such as Helium and nitrogen, the profit margin will become significantly lower.
This is why people have been desperately waiting for the problem of helium shortage to be solved as early as possible. There are a lot of geopolitical factors which have contributed to its need, and the problem will likely get cracked later. But we can hope for a bright future and wish for good things.