Industry May Face Shortages In 2012
- 1/20/2012

2011 held its share of supply challenges for gases and welding distributors. In the months after a furnace
fire halted the domestic supply of calcium carbide in March, distributors were tasked with re-learning how
to source the raw materials to carry on with acetylene production. Then, in the third and fourth quarters of
2011, many distributors found themselves on allocation from their helium suppliers. Early evidence
suggests that 2012 may present supply challenges for distributors much like 2011. The industry outlook
“Eyeing Potential Shortages In 2012” appears in Welding & Gases Today, the leading magazine for the
gases and welding equipment industry.

In order to understand the future of helium in 2012 and beyond, it’s important to consider the past.
Although there was a helium shortage in 2006-07, Nick Haines, head of global helium source development
at Linde, explains that circumstances in 2011 were a somewhat different. “The situation in 2006 and 2007
was caused by multiple major plant outages and a lengthy Qatar I plant ramp up,” he says, adding, “Helium
is a globally traded product, so shortages in any plant are felt throughout the world as supply is shifted to
meet demand when supply interruptions occur.”

In 2011, Haines says the situation was the result of market demand growth and a variety of maintenance
outages, which left little spare capacity and supplies increasingly subject to interruptions. The good news
for 2012 is that two new plants are scheduled to come on line. However, there are several planned
outages for 2012 that will impact supplies.

Sources suggest that 2012 may also hold uncertain in aluminum markets. In 2011, Goldman Sachs drew
attention for Detroit warehouses operated by the investment and banking firm where aluminum was
exiting at a slower rate than it came in, creating a bottleneck in supply and reportedly increasing prices.
Due to the shortage in helium and the high rise in cost.
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