Helium Supply Drops, Price Skyrockets
Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) For years, helium balloons have been a big part of any kid's party. But now there's less helium to go around in the US at much higher prices.
The reason helium balloons go up is because they're lighter than air. Helium is a byproduct of mining natural gas. But now a major drop in the supply of helium has driven prices up two or three times what they were a year ago.
Brett Schlund with Norco Welding & Safety says, "The supply is just considerably limited. As far as Norco's concerned, we're at 60 to 70% less than we were last year in what we're given."
Schlund says Norco fills medical gases first. Helium keeps MRI machines cool so they can operate correctly. Right now Norco doesn't supply any large scale amounts of helium to any customers for balloons.
Amy Sullivan, Store Manager for Zurcher's, says, "There is a shortage. We not for sure when it's going to pick back up. The helium guys that we talk to don't really know for sure. We're just lucky that we're getting it in at the time."
Another local store owner says he's losing $2,000 a month because he can't buy any helium to fill party balloons.
Schlund says miners have been told to continue getting helium from the Federal Reserve near Amarillo, Texas until 2018, when the national helium supply could actually run out. And that could spell the end of a longtime childhood tradition.
Schlund says, "As times change, it quite possibly could be that we no longer see helium for balloons."
Schlund says his company sells about 14 cubic feet of helium for $40 dollars, which is only enough to fill roughly 50 balloons.
Sept. 14, 2012.