Speculations around US Helium Intensify as Global Supply remain poor
- 27-Jun-2022 5:27 PM
- Journalist: Timothy Greene
The supply of specialty gases to the United States (US) is disrupted drastically due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. The constant demand from the electrical component sector and increase in circuit usage in the automotive industry, especially the rise of sales and production of Electric Vehicles in the US market, put more pressure on the helium prices in the US market once the inventories of the major chip manufacturers run out.
According to ChemAnalyst sources, the inventories of helium in the top chain of chip manufacturers like Intel, ASML, TSMC, and Micron will only be enough for six months or less of chip production, if the war continues for longer, the end-users are expected to witness a price hike, and the demand from the downstream automotive and electrical sector are likely to drive up the price of helium in the US market.
The rising demand for semiconductor and electronic manufacturing products from the downstream automobile and electronics sector worsens the state of the noble gas market. For an average 3D memory flash, the material involved in making the chip is 24% gases, 27% chemicals, and 17% silicon, so the gas supply is critical in the chip manufacturing units.
Ukraine is the primary manufacturer of various noble gases like (Neon, krypton, and Xenon) and Russia is supposed to be the major of helium exporter through its storage unit in the Amur plant. Due to the current geopolitical situation in the East European region, there is no end to the shortage of noble gases, especially helium. Russian government’s decision to set sanctions against ‘unfriendly countries’ (countries that opposed Russia for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine like the US and several countries in the Western European region) worsens the state of the helium market in the US.
According to ChemAnalyst, this tightness of supply in the European market and America’s depleting helium inventories have caused a gap globally in which the Chinese players are filling the space, and the increase in noble gas production in China might reduce the price of helium in the Asian market but the scale of production of these new Chinese manufacturers is not large enough to replace the giant manufacturing capacity of noble gases like Ukraine and Russia leaving the noble gas market of Europe and US in a tight spot.