Summary

The decade ahead will bring massive structural shifts as economies around the world transition away from fossil fuels. These changes have already given rise to new strategic commodities, such as rare earth minerals, cobalt, and lithium to name a few. The extent to which global economies are willing to clash over these strategic commodities in order to secure reliable supply chains remains to be seen, and will largely be a function of the global trade system going forward. However, the fact remains that supply chain security is a matter no policymaker will have the luxury of ignoring.

This article examines factors impacting helium supply and demand over the next decade.

 

Background

What is helium?

Helium is an odorless and colorless inert gas that has both the lowest boiling and freezing points of any other element. The gas is also extremely lightweight and abundant, second only to Hydrogen in both categories. Yet despite this abundance, the levity of helium outweighs gravity on Earth, and can easily escape into space if not properly extracted and stored. In the early 20th century, rich amounts of helium were discovered in natural gas fields across the United States, leading to wider adoption of the gas by the US military.