Posted on July 09, 2013

RasGas Company Limited (RasGas) yesterday announced that its recently completed Helium 2 plant produced the first liquid helium for delivery to contracted customers. 

The Helium 2 plant is expected to produce approximately 1.3 billion cubic feet per year. Qatar is now the World’s largest exporter and second largest producer of helium

 RasGas’ Helium 2 plant is twice the size of its Helium 1 plant, which began operations in 2005. The Helium 2 plant is expected to produce approximately 1.3 billion cubic feet per year[i] when fully operational.  With a combined annual production of 2 billion cubic feet, the two plants will meet around 25 per cent of current total liquid helium global demand.  Both facilities are managed and operated by RasGas.

H.E. Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Qatar’s Minister of Energy and Industry, expressed pleasure at the new milestone saying “it was a testament of Qatar’s strategy of creating added value by sound development and maximum utilisation of its natural resources.” "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,” added Dr Al Sada.

RasGas has started production and delivery from its Helium 2 plant to contracted customers Air Liquide, Linde Gas and Iwatani

“The Helium 2 plant, which broke ground in May 2010, is the second helium project to be built in Qatar, and 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,” said Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi, RasGas Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of Qatar Petroleum (QP).

Off-take agreements were signed with Air Liquide, Iwatani Corporation and Linde Gases, a Linde Group division in the second first half of 2010. Air Liquide will receive 50 per cent, Linde Gases 30 per cent and the Iwatani Corporation 20 per cent of the annual production up to 2032.  

The plant is co-owned by Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited 2 (Qatargas 2), Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited 3 (Qatargas 3), Qatar Liquefied Gas Company Limited 4 (Qatargas 4) and Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited (3) “RL3.” 

Formed over billions of years, helium is often trapped in deposits of natural gas making it expensive to extract, purify and make available for commercial use. The design and construction of the helium purification and liquefaction plant incorporated highly complex and advanced technology that will capture, extract and refine crude helium from six existing LNG processing trains, including:  RasGas’ Trains 6 and 7, and Qatargas’ Trains 4, 5, 6 and 7.    

RasGas manages and operates the Helium 2 purification and liquefaction unit which is the world’s largest, measuring 20 metres long and more than 8 metres high

Helium is used across a number of industries including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners, electronics for superconductors and in the retail and entertainment businesses as a pressurising, lifting and purge gas.

Future growth in consumption of helium is expected to be driven by demand from electronic manufacturers in Japan, China, Republic of Korea and Taiwan. Since 2000, world demand for helium has increased by around 20 per cent – the bulk of this increasing demand can be met from Qatar’s North Field for many years.

[i] ISO containers (each container has 11,000 US Gallons volume capacity) per annum.

Qatar Airways flies 3 times weekly to Belgrade, Serbia starting 20th November