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The Ukraine Crisis & The Helium Shortage

Ukraine crisis and helium shortage

How Will the Ukraine Crisis Impact an Already Low Supply of Liquid Helium?

Prepare Your Medical Imaging Business for Another Round of Shortages and High Cost for Helium Refills

The effects of the international turmoil in Ukraine and Russia is having an economic impact on industries around the world. We can see it in rising gas prices, financial sanctions, higher costs of commodities, and supply-chain disruptions. For medical imaging companies, the most immediate concern has to do with a commodity that was facing major supply issues before anything happened in Ukraine: Liquid Helium.

Several years ago the cost of liquid helium was averaging over $25/liter. This was at the height of the helium crisis before we hit the COVID-19 pandemic. During the economic standstill caused by the virus, there was actually an improvement in the availability and cost of helium. However, 2022 has introduced an evolution in the original crisis in what’s being called “Helium Shortage 4.0”.

Running low on liquid helium

Running Low on Liquid Helium?

Recent Disruptions in Liquid Helium Production

Since the beginning of 2022, the liquid helium supply has been hit by several factors:

  1. Domestic production was recently shut down for several months by the US Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) crude helium enrichment unit due to unplanned maintenance
  2. Another processing plant in Wyoming is processing liquid helium in the interim but demand (and cost!) is high
  3. Qatar and West Africa are now the main global suppliers of liquid helium … as well as Russia at the Amur Helium Plant.

Prior to the Ukraine crisis, there were several fires at Russian processing plants that have caused a shutdown until Q3 of 2022. This means the industry was already bracing itself for unstable prices and supply disruptions. And then Russia invaded Ukraine.

Will Russia’s war with Ukraine further disrupt the supply of liquid helium? Most likely. 

With the BLM down again, reduced production from Qatar during the Spring, and no real relief in sight from the Amir plant, major helium providers are allocating what they can to provide for their customers. 

As a medical imaging company or hospital system, you need to be prepared for another, more evolved version of the Helium Crisis we faced back in 2017-2019. 

Prepare Your Business for the 2022 Helium Shortage

Russia is one out of four global producers of liquid helium, and you can only get 60% of the helium you can usually purchase because of BLM going offline. This means you need to partner with a company that takes you out of the “chasing down helium for exorbitant costs” game. SWMR continues to have uninterrupted access to liquid helium. So if your access is interrupted or set to a lower allocation than you need, we are here to help both spot fill and delivery helium services.

Need Helium? 

Southwest has you covered!

With Southwest, you can reduce your helium loss to ZERO. 

Rather than focusing on managing helium loss when it happens, we propose the complete elimination of helium loss. Through SWMR’s Helium Zer0 solution, we provide constant monitoring and proactive maintenance solutions to help you manage costs while gaining access to expert advice and on-call engineers.

With Helium Zer0, your contract ensures you can protect your customers, patients, and bottom line from the 2022 shortage. This includes labor and expenses, emergency fills nationwide, as well as coverage for pre-existing conditions. There is no up-front cost for equipment or installation, and volume discounts are available. 

Helium Zer0 programs are available for all GE, Siemens, Philips, and Toshiba MRIs. 


Connect with the Southwest Team to Learn More About Helium Zer0 Today

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