Russia's push towards helium could present 'geopolitical risk of threats to supply': Report

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 10, 2020, 03:29 PM(IST)

Nord Stream 2 gas line in eastern Germany Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

NYT said that Russia is "well-positioned to supply China and the technology industry on the US West Coast" and the Gazprom the Russian company is "will export canisters of cryogenically cooled liquid helium from the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok."

The Russian media hit out at a report that claimed the country presents a "geopolitical risk of threats to supply" of helium which is  "finite resource".

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The New York Times in its report said that that "Siberia holds some of the largest known untapped reserves of natural gas with high levels of helium, and Russia is preparing for a major leap in production when its new complex of factories comes online next year."

NYT said that Russia is "well-positioned to supply China and the technology industry on the US West Coast" and the Gazprom the Russian company is "will export canisters of cryogenically cooled liquid helium from the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok."

The report said after ramping up production by the middle of the decade "Russia expects to produce 25 per cent to 30 per cent of all helium used worldwide without breaking a sweat". Gazprom said in September that its Siberian helium machine was more than 60% completed, the report said.

The report said US and Qatar at present generate vast amounts of world’s helium but Russia is already self-sufficient, however, the US has exited the business which the NYT report claims would allow Russia to become a major exporter from 2021.

The report claimed that the US holds 2.8 billion cubic feet of helium in an "abandoned gas field outside Amarillo, Texas".

"It has raised worries that Russia could bring to helium the same politically influenced trading practices that worry buyers of Russian natural gas and crude oil," the NYT report said.

There are several uses for liquid helium which is widely used in MRI machines also to propel space rockets including in welding and printing computer chips and is seen as a "critical resource".

The report also mentioned the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany which has been embargoed by the Trump administration with its "complicated mix of politics and economics influences the Kremlin’s decisions."

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