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Selling the Nation’s Helium Reserve
The balance between domestic and foreign consumption of helium has shifted significantly in the past 15 years. Until the mid-1990s, substantially all helium production took place in the United States. This factor, combined with high shipping costs and limited availabilities, meant that until recently, the amount of helium consumed abroad was fairly small. In 1995, for example, over 70 percent of worldwide helium consumption was in the United States (see Figures 1.1 and 1.2).
FIGURE 1.1 Helium demand, actual and forecasted, among regions of the world over time. In 1995, total volume sold was 3.750 billion cubic feet (Bcf); in 2007, total volume sold was 6.335 Bcf, and in 2012, it is expected to be 6.5 Bcf. SOURCE: Cryogas International.
FIGURE 1.2. Consumption of refined helium in the United States (blue), in other countries (red), and worldwide (green line) for the years 1990 through 2008. SOURCE: Cryogas International.