Helium Production Falls Short of Expectations

There may be a shortage of helium this fall. Delays at factories in the Middle East are slowing production.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The price of oil is dropping, but the price of helium is rising. Part of the reason - three big plants in Qatar and Algeria aren't producing helium because of maintenance and construction.

Some party supply stores have already cut back on their balloon business. Goodyear Tires, which uses helium to inflate its blimps, is worried about prices.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The U.S. government provides more than one third of the world's crude helium. People have been asking the Feds if the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade was going to happen. Well, the economy has to go on, doesn't it? So the government says yes.

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