A global helium shortage has doctors worried about one of the natural gas’s most essential, and perhaps unexpected, uses: MRIs. Strange as it sounds, the lighter-than-air element that gives balloons their buoyancy also powers the vital medical diagnostic machines. An MRI can’t function without some 2,000 liters of ultra-cold liquid helium keeping its magnets cool enough to work. But helium — a nonrenewable element found deep within the Earth’s crust — is running low, leaving hospitals wondering how to plan for a future with a much scarcer supply. “Helium has become a big concern,” said Mahadevappa Mahesh, professor of radiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Baltimore. “Especially now with the geopolitical situation.” Helium has been a volatile commodity for years. This is especially true in the U.S., where a Texas-based federal helium reserve is dwindling as the government tries transferring ownership to private markets.
And why it is so? Here is why:
Until this year, the U.S. was counting on Russia to ease the tight supply. An enormous new facility in eastern Russia was supposed to supply nearly one-third of the world’s helium, but a fire last January derailed the timeline. Although the facility could resume operations any day, the war in Ukraine has, for the most part, stopped trade between the two countries. Now, four of five major U.S. helium suppliers are rationing the element, said Phil Kornbluth, president of Kornbluth Helium Consulting. These suppliers are prioritizing the health care industry by reducing helium allotments to less essential customers.
Boy, they really thought that war-thing in Washington through. But if this was not bad enough, now toy-boy is upset.
U.S. trade and energy policies have created a “double standard”, with Europe left paying higher prices for its natural gas, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday. France, the latest—and largest–country to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty, has switched from being a net exporter of energy last year, to being a net importer of energy this year, after problems with its nuclear fleet surfaced. To compensate for its declining nuclear fleet and Russia’s complete halt of natural gas shipments into the country, France has turned to the United States for LNG—only Macron is unhappy with the price it’s paying. U.S. natural gas exports to France increased 421% during the first eight months of 2022—but the value of that LNG increased by 1094% in August alone due to the higher prices of LNG. “The North American economy is making choices for the sake of attractiveness, which I respect, but they create a double standard,” Macron explained at a Brussels news conference on Friday, with the United States enjoying low energy prices at home, while exporting at record prices.“In addition, they allow state aid going to up to 80% on some sectors while it’s banned here — you get a double standard. It comes down to the sincerity of transatlantic trade,”
The “double standard”, “the sincerity of transatlantic trade”!? Lol…
Somebody explain to Macron that Europe, France included, is lunch, maybe some leftovers for dinner. Europe’s only salvation was Russia, but they missed the train and are going to be consumed now. I am absolutely fascinated with the fate of Airbus and how all supply chains will react to the increasing cost of energy, and aerospace, boy, this industry is extremely energy consuming. Fascinating! Hey, Boeing needs to eat too, you know.