The current global market bulk liquid helium market is thought to be worth over US$1.5 billion, with the unit price (US$ per thousand cubic feet) rising by over 100% in the past decade.
The USA is the world's leading helium supplier with approximately 55% share of global supply in 2016, followed by Qatar with 32% (USGS). Algeria, Australia, Canada, Poland and Russia are also producing nations.
The largest reserve of crude helium is owned and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In 2013 it announced that it would begin to auction off an increasing percentage of the reserve annually, until it ceases sales to private industry on or before the 30th September 2021. This is due to depletion of the reserve, and will remove a very significant portion of existing supply from the market. Forecast demand, and reduced USA output is anticipated to create a global helium deficit commencing in 2020.
Helium Markets have been quite volatile in recent years with 3 years of global shortage during the period 2011-2013, followed by 2 years of oversupply caused by the start of production from the Qatar II plant in 2014-2015. The global helium market was on course to find equilibrium, however limited output from Qatar in 2017 (due to the geopolitical situation with its neighbours, and consequent border closures) is likely to have created another global supply shortage.