DUBAI/DOHA - Qatar, the world's second largest helium producer, has closed its two helium production plants because of the economic boycott imposed by other Arab states, industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
The helium plants operated by RasGas, a subsidiary of state-owned Qatar Petroleum [QATPE.UL] (QP), were shut after Saudi Arabia closed its border with Qatar, blocking overland exports of the gas, a QP official told Reuters. RasGas is 70 per cent owned by QP and US giant Exxon Mobil has 30 per cent.
The official declined to be named under briefing rules. Phil Kornbluth, head of US-based industry consultancy Kornbluth Helium Consulting, said his sources had confirmed the closure.
The closure of the plants is a sign of how the rift between Qatar and Arab powers could affect commodities markets. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties last week, accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, a charge Doha denies.
Qatar's exports of liquefied natural gas at Ras Laffan have been unaffected by the boycott.