Qatar has now become the world’s largest exporter and second largest producer of liquid helium with the launch of production at the new plant of RasGas Company , said the country’s energy minister.
Commenting on the major milestone, Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry said it was a testament of Qatar’s strategy of creating added value by sound development and maximum utilisation of its natural resources .
RasGas announced that its new plant produced the first liquid helium for delivery to contracted customers. The plant, being operated by the Qatari LNG producer , is twice the size of its Helium 1 plant. “With the commencement of production at our Helium 2 plant, which is the world’s largest helium refining facility, we are today the largest exporter and the second largest producer of helium in the world,” remarked Dr Al Sada.
The world’s top LNG exporter, Qatar, which had been pumping growing amounts of helium as a by-product of gas output, is now second only to the US in helium production, he added. According to him, the combined annual production of 2 billion cubic feet (bcf) at the Helium 1 and 2 plants will help meet around 25 per cent of current global demand. RasGas said off-take agreements had been signed with Air Liquide, Iwatani Corporation and Linde Gases, a Linde Group division, in the second half of 2010.
Under this pact, Air Liquide  will receive 50 per cent of the annual production till 2032, while Linde Gases will get 30 per cent and the Iwatani Corporation 20 per cent. RasGas CEO and Qatar Petroleum vice chairman Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi said the Helium 2 plant, which broke ground in May 2010, was the second helium project to be built in the country. “We are very pleased to report that in over 5 million man hours worked to complete this project, we have maintained a lost time incident rate (LTIR) of zero. Achieving such a remarkable safety milestone is a clear testimony to RasGas’ commitment to create and maintain a safe work environment in a complex construction project that involved thousands of contractors and employees,” he noted.