While Qatar is producing some 23 percent of the global helium demand from the North Dome gas field (called South Pars in Iran), the Islamic Republic has no plan to extract helium from this joint field.
Currently Qatar is producing over 40 million cubic meters of helium per year (mcm/y) by operating two plants in South Pars, the third plant is projected to be built in coming years.
Helium is not expensive and its price is about $2.5-$4 per cubic meter, but the restricted amount of global helium reserves and unique industrial usage, make it very important.
Annual global production of helium is about 175 million cubic meters per year and it is estimated that the earth's precious helium resources will run out within 25 to 30 years.
Currently, the US with 73 million cubic meters of production per day is leading the main producers, including Russia, Qatar and Algeria.
Total helium reserves in the US stand at 20.6 billion cubic meters, according to the US Geologic Survey. Russia's reserves are about 7 billion cubic meters.
While South Pars packs a lot of helium reserves, Iran is not extracting it, as the Managing Director of PARS Oil and Gas Company Ali Akbar Shabanpour told Fars News agency on March 27 that Iran has no plan to extract the helium from South Pars and all of efforts have been focused on increasing the gas production level from this field.
Helium is widely used in a range of industries, such as aviation, aerospace, electronics, nuclear power, and healthcare.
The South Pars gas field covers an area of 9,700 square kilometers, 3,700 square kilometers of which are in Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.
The remaining 6,000 square kilometers, i.e. North Dome, are in Qatar's territorial waters.
The Iranian gas field contains 14 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, about eight percent of the world's reserves.