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Qatar producing helium again, but blockade still poses challenges

Qatar, one of the world’s top producers of helium, has resumed production of the gas, reports gasworld magazine.

The small Middle Eastern country, which accounts for roughly 30 percent of the world’s helium supply, suspended production on June 12, a week after Saudi Arabia and other region nations cut off borders with Qatar, essentially blockading the nation.

Although helium production has resumed, shipping line logistics could remain a problem, wrote Rob Cockerill of gasworld.

“Sources within the region state that while production may be back online, the movement of ISO tanks by chartered boats to and from Qatar is currently very limited and so, supply from Qatar will remain ’very much restricted’ until this is improved or the geo-political impasse is resolved. The same sources note that helium prices have only marginally responded to the position in Qatar and there is still a sizeable overhang in the market,” gasworld reported.

The Saudi Arabia-led blockade, which includes Egypt, Bahrain and UAE, stems from Qatar’s friendly relations with Iran and, allegedly, terrorist groups as well. Diplomatic relations between Qatar and the other countries ceased June 5. The situation remains at an impasse, as Qatar rejected a list of demands to end the blockade on July 5.

Qatar appears to be readying for a lengthy situation with the announcement that the country would up its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) production by 30 percent in the coming years. 

Originally posted Thursday, Jul. 6, 2017

Tags: helium shortage