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HELIUM: A VERSATILE ELEMENT

Although the principal activities of RasGas are focused on the extraction, processing, liquefaction, storage and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), RasGas is also heavily involved in other natural resource projects that maximise the use of liquids extracted from the North Field. These include the Helium 1 and Helium 2 plants.

Operated by RasGas, the two plants have a combined annual production of approximately 2 billion standard cubic feet (Bscf) per day and are expected to meet approximately 25 per cent of current total helium global demand. This makes Qatar the largest exporter and second largest producer of helium in the world.

Helium is a product which is derived from natural gas during processing and is recovered from some natural gas deposits where it is found in low concentrations of less than 0.05%. Helium is extracted during the final stages of the LNG cooling process through various stages of separation. With Qatar’s North Field holding some 26 per cent of known helium reserves, the crude helium stream is extracted from a total of fourteen existing LNG trains at Ras Laffan.

While helium (He) is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen (H), helium can only be recovered from some underground natural gas deposits

Since 2000, world demand for helium has increased by approximately 20 per cent. Future growth in helium consumption is expected to be driven by demand from electronics manufacturers in Japan, China, Republic of Korea and Taiwan. Given the rare nature of Helium as a commodity and increasing global demand, RasGas is able to ensure reliability and continuity of international helium supplies through the two facilities.

 

QUICK FACTS

Helium 1

  • Announced in 2003 and started production in August 2005.
  • Designed production capacity of 700 million standard cubic feet per year reached in 2008.
  • Production currently stands at more than 500 containers a year.
  • Helium feed stock streams from eight LNG processing trains: RasGas Trains 1- 5 and Qatargas Trains 1-3

Helium 2

  • Twice the capacity of Helium 1.
  • Construction began in June 2011 and production started in June 2013.
  • 100 per cent production reached in October 2013
  • Annual capacity of 1.3 billion standard cubic feet making it the world's largest helium refining facility.
  • Helium feed stock streams from six LNG processing trains: RasGas’ mega trains 6 and 7, and Qatargas’ mega trains 4-7.
  • Helium 2’s construction was completed without a single lost time incident (LTI).

 

 

 

Helium: Qatar's Journey

Helium: Qatar's Journey

Where is Helium used?

Owing to its low density, inertness and unique low-temperature behaviour, Helium is used across a number of industries including medicine, astronomy, space travel, aviation and deep sea diving. Here are some examples:

Liquid helium's use in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines continues to increase as the medical profession accepts and develops new uses for the equipment.

2 Blimp Helium
Helium is used to inflate blimps, scientific balloons and party balloons.
2 Blimp Helium
Helium is used to clean out rocket engines, pressurise the interior of liquid fuel rockets, condense hydrogen and oxygen to make rocket fuel, and force fuel into the engines during rocket launches
2 Blimp Helium
Helium is used in solar telescopes to reduce the distorting effects of temperature variations in between lenses
2 Blimp Helium
Liquid helium is an important cryogenic material and is used to study superconductivity and to create superconductive magnets. It is also used in superconductors which is essential for the manufacturing of electronics.

   
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