Helium shortage has businesses rationing supply

Posted at 8:32 PM, Aug 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-21 22:48:55-04

A nationwide helium shortage has affected businesses here in Utah. And many businesses that use it for party supplies have either rationed their supply or will not sell the gas at all.

Helium is commonly known to keep party balloons aloft. But the inert material has its greatest use in industry, including welding or with medical devices. Usually party stores that fill balloons are the last to get it.

Natural gas drillers, where much of the helium is produced, cut off the supply of helium this summer so they could do their yearly maintenance work.

Helium distributor DJB Gas Services says that part of their work is down 20 percent.

"The natural gas price is so low, that they always think summer or into August before the cold season starts when the price is the lowest, they're going to do their maintenance," said DJB Gas Services spokesperson Dave Burne. "This year it [price] was so low, they decided to do their maintenance longer."

The shortage is expected to over at the end of September. While 2013 is expected to be a good year for helium yields.