Major helium producer Qatar shuts its plants amid GCC crisis
Qatar has stopped producing helium gas at its two processing plants as a direct result of the blockading of its border with Saudi Arabia.
An unnamed official from Qatar Petroleum told Reuters that the plants were shut because Saudi Arabia had blocked overland exports of the gas.
The neighboring country, as well as the UAE and Bahrain, have sought to boycott Qatar to challenge its political leanings.
Qatar is the world’s second largest helium producer, after the US.
Demand for the gas has grown in recent years as it being increasingly used for medical and technological purposes.
Qatar’s two plants, run by RasGas, can meet about 25 percent of the total world demand for the gas, according to RasGas’ website.
Helium gas is also used in nuclear power production and deep-water diving.
Qatar’s decision to close its processing plants may have an impact on global stocks of the gas, which is already in short supply.
In the past, doctors have called for a ban on the use of helium in balloons, in order to preserve finite stocks for other purposes.