Helium for Darwin

BOC has announced plans to build a new liquid helium plant in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. The new facility will be the first helium plant in Australia and will be one of only 15 operating in the world when it commences production in mid-2007.

The helium produced by the Darwin facility will supply domestic Australian demand as well as export customers located in New Zealand and Asian markets.

Under a long-term contract with Darwin LNG, BOC will extract the helium from the vent stream of the Darwin liquefied natural gas plant. The helium will be purified, liquefied and filled into specialized ISOcontainers for shipment to market.

Pending the required government and regulatory approvals, construction of BOC’s helium plant, located at Wickham Point and adjacent to Darwin LNG’s facility, will begin in mid-2006. When the helium plant reaches full production, it will have capacity of 150 million cubic feet per year and will supply between one and three per cent of the world’s helium demand.

Australia currently imports all of the helium that it requires, primarily from US sources,” said Graham Smith, managing director, Industrial & Special Products, BOC, South Pacific.

Phil Kornbluth, vice president, helium & rare gases, BOC, added, “The investment in Darwin is another in a series of steps BOC has taken recently to strengthen our global supply position and prepare for the eventual decline of US sources.”

Darwin LNG’s plant, which is expected to produce 3.1 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas a year when it begins operating in early 2006, is now under construction.