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EU Proposes First Sanctions on Russian Helium

Updated: May 7

The European Union has, for the first time, directly targeted Russia's gas sector by proposing sanctions on Russian LNG. Along with LNG, the package includes a recommended ban on helium imports — an attempt to cripple a small but growing Russian sector targeting high-tech customers in the semiconductor and medical equipment industries. Russian helium has started gaining market share in Asia, notably in China, Asia's largest helium importer. In China, Russian helium has significantly cannibalised Qatar's helium volumes, which have fallen from ~75% of China's total imports over the LTM to Feb'24 to ~50% in Mar'24. Possibly fearing similar trends, the EU has proposed sanctioning Russian helium. Currently, as of February 2024, Russia accounts for only 6% of the EU's total imports, but this has increased from 3% over the LTM to Jan'24, while Algeria's volumes (EU's main supplier) have fallen from 46% to 38% for the same period. If the sanctions are implemented, it will limit Russian helium exports to Asia.

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