When I took my helium tank in for a refill last week the clerk looked at me almost incredulously wondering if I knew there was a helium shortage. I did not. I had no clue.
I do read up on current events but the newspaper articles I scan have not filled me in on the helium shortage of 2012. Of course I came home and learned all about it.
Helium is harvested from natural gas reserves and plants around the world have not produced as much as usual due to equipment failures and extended shutdowns. Then, use has gone up with helium needed to make flat-screen TVs and as a cooler for magnets in MRI machines.
So, it’s basically a supply and demand problem but new plants opening in Qatar and Wyoming should help. But, right now during this season with school proms and graduations, helium is a hot commodity.
Now after getting told at two places there was no helium to be found I tried a different approach at my third gas supplier. See, I’ve been taking lessons from Jen Smith’s ability to get what she wants (no one can ever say no to Jen) so I tried my luck with the helium clerk. I (very nicely) begged and pleaded and told him how much I would appreciate any miniscule amount he could sell me. And the next thing I knew, my tank was full!
So, the take home for the day (besides a tank filled with helium) is that it never hurts to ask!