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Airgas to increase prices on helium 20 percent

The Associated Press

Airgas is increasing prices on helium by 20 percent, citing rising acquisition and distribution costs.

The price jump will take effect immediately, though Airgas said Friday that price increases may differ depending on market conditions or contract provisions.

The company, which sells gases and equipment to hospitals and industrial companies, said the Bureau of Land Management, which supplies a significant portion of helium in the U.S., is charging helium refiners more for the gas.

And on Friday, the bureau announced that it was raising the price for a thousand cubic feet for crude helium from $84 to $95. The federal agency said it raised prices because of market forces and to provide a higher return for taxpayers. It also said that it wants to encourage the industry to conserve.

"The costs of securing helium continue to increase," Airgas CEO Michael Molinini. "In addition, supplier allocations and constantly changing supply and demand geographies are causing us to incur greater distribution expenses to move the product from where we receive it to where it is needed by our customers."

Shares of Airgas Inc. slipped 7 cents to close at $109.88 Friday.