The world’s top LNG exporter Qatar is pumping growing amounts of helium as a by-product of gas output and aims to become the world’s second largest helium producer with a new plant, its energy minister said.

Qatar exports liquefied natural gas (LNG) with gas output from its giant North Field, the world’s largest known pure natural gas reservoir.

Helium is used in medical diagnostics such as MRI scanners and has industrial applications for semiconductor processing, fiber optics and welding. It is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen.

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