Helium stakeholders urge government to push back sale of federal reserve

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | January 23, 2024
MRI Parts And Service

In its own statement, AdvaMed said that the sale would force U.S. and international suppliers to seek supplies from the Middle East and Eastern European countries, like Russia, whose natural gas company Gazprom recently began supplying helium from its Amur plant. It also will have six process trains running by 2025, raising its share in the global helium market. Currently, geopolitical tensions are high due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and turmoil in the Middle East from the war between Israel and Palestine, meaning that any reliance on foreign suppliers in these areas would be risky and come with its own set of challenges.

“While innovations to use less helium in medtech are underway, MR machines are made to last for years as an investment and aren’t easily replaced. AdvaMed urges the White House to delay the sale and privatization of the Federal Helium Reserve until outstanding issues identified by the Compressed Gas Association are resolved,” said Scott Whitaker, president and CEO of AdvaMed.

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Other areas that could be impacted include national defense, nuclear energy, space exploration, search and rescue missions, and industrial applications. In healthcare, access to helium-neon lasers for eye surgery could also be limited, as could access to semiconductors, which are used in various sectors, including for medical device building.

The U.S. already faced months of delays in April 2022 when the Bureau of Land Management transferred operations and maintenance for the FHR to a private company. The interruptions were brought on by the need to identify and correct operational issues, meet regulatory requirements, and complete permits, illustrating the risks of privatizing the reserve, according to Gottwald.

“A poorly executed sale will lead to a helium supply chain crisis, impacting American competitiveness, economic growth, and national security,” he said.

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Steven Ford

Sale of helium reserves to private corporation

January 24, 2024 12:38

Anyone who has experience in the helium markets knows that, while the federal government has a reputation for mismanagement of many things, turning over the remaining parts of the helium reserve to private ownership would be a disaster of huge proportions.
In the past four or five years, the prices our company has been quoted for liquid helium range from $14 per liter to $62 per liter, and from time to time we cannot buy it at any price at all. We frequently buy liquid and gas helium by the thousands of liters.
This impacts us and our customers, who strive to deliver quality, cost effective medical technology services.
The pricing volatility is, for the most part, caused by the seizing of profit opportunity by international corporations that hold an oligopoly on liquid helium supplies. If these reserves are sold it will make this situation far worse.

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