Obtaining speedy customs release for imported items at Nigeria Airports requires knowledge, tact, and doggedness. Hence when you are clearing special shipments such as Helium Gas, you can trust Dreamworks Global Logistics Limited to help you with your complete customs clearing.

The involvement of our team as freight and clearing agents of Helium has given us a deeper understanding of how to secure the super-fast and cost-effective release of Helium Gas shipments from the Nigeria Customs and other regulating agencies of the government.

What is Helium Gas?

Helium is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas mostly used in the healthcare sector as a cooling gas in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). It is ascribed to be the second lightest gas and the coolest element on earth.

Despite its over 34% use in the healthcare sector, helium’s application spans several industries and uses. Among other important uses for helium are:

  • The Internet
  • Electronics
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Semiconductor and fibre optic cable manufacturing
  • Laboratory
  • Ship Leak Detection
  • Arc Welding
  • Treatment of Asthma and other respiratory problems

Like in many other countries around the world, Liquid Helium is used mostly in Nigeria by the healthcare sector, specifically to keep the magnets in MRI machines running. Demand for helium is currently increasing for MRI scanners in Nigeria, and there’s an increasing need for competent and professional freight and clearing agents to consistently add value to that supply chain.

This article particularly addresses freighting and more specifically customs clearing of Helium in Nigeria.


1.      Speed is Life

The efficiency of supply chain management in the procurement and discharge of Helium Gas to healthcare facilities in Nigeria has very grave implications. This is treated in the 3 points below.

a)       It May be life-dependent: MRI Machines are central to many things done in modern medicine. They are used to diagnose cancer, strokes, internal injuries and some other critical health conditions. Therefore quick, timely and efficient availability of this precious gas can determine the fate of a sick patient. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities require helium to assist patients with diagnosing and monitoring their condition. Cancelling patients’ MRIs or shutting down machines due to inefficiencies in the supply of Helium could have dire consequences.

b)      Evaporation Concerns:  Every day counts in the delivery fulfilment process. Helium is a very expensive gas and there’s a risk of evaporation the longer it spends on the way before discharge into the machine. This may have severe economic consequences for the buyer/importer as every centilitre loss of the gas represents a loss in the book of the buyer.

c)       Magnet Quench Concerns: Aside from the above, there may be the risk of “magnet quench” – where the remaining gas in the MRI machine is exhausted and the magnet gets clogged. This may be extreme, but the mere thought of the cost of fixing the machine and cancelled patients’ MRIs should be of great concern.

d)      Discharge Expatriate Cost

2.      Helium Gas has a special Supply Chain and Freighting Needs

a)      Helium is a delicate gas and so the freighting of it requires intricate skills. Perhaps due to the sensitive nature of the gas, the delivery terms with the seller are usually CPT (Carriage Paid To) denoting that the supplier carries all risks, including loss, until the goods are in the care of the nominated party. The CPT Price might include export fees, taxes, and Terminal Handling Charges (THC) in their freight rates.

b)      Although helium is the most stable of all elements, the least reactive of all and it’s non-combustible and not corrosive; it is classified as dangerous goods under IATA Regulations 2.4 because it is poisonous. It’s lighter than air, so inhaling it displaces the oxygen in the lungs. If much helium is inhaled, suffocation or even explosion of the lungs may occur. For this reason, Helium is regulated in Nigeria by the National Agency for Foods, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NASREA).

c)      For safety and adequate storage reasons, Helium is stored and transported in returnable/refillable Dewar cylinders with multi-layer vacuum insulation. This storage protects against leakage and evaporation.

d)      Re-order considerations: A re-order for Helium gas into an MRI machine should be made as soon as the gas level gets to about 50%. This is to avoid the risk of exhaustion due to the lag of time between an order being made, and delivery being taken. This however depends on peculiar usage history and projections by the user.

3.      Sustainable Supply Concerns and Resultant Price Volatility

Global helium shortage is becoming worrisome to medical practitioners, producers, and the World Health Organisation (W.H.O). The quantity of helium on Earth is diminishing as it gradually floats into space and is not trapped. Sadly, once the helium is gone, it’s gone forever as it is a non-renewable resource.

In the short term, the situation is worsened by the burning of a Helium extraction facility in eastern Russia which was supposed to supply nearly one-third of the world’s helium and the consequential effects of the war in Ukraine. Prices of Helium across the globe have been volatile and unabated increasing. For instance, between October 2022 and the beginning of March 2023, prices have soared as much as 65%.

Responsible freight and clearing agents have the responsibility to assist importers mitigate the effects of the skyrocketing prices by employing due tact to smoothly clear Helium shipments most efficiently and cost-effectively.

4.      Careful Local Handling

Special care needs to be taken while transporting Helium shipment from the port of discharge to the final delivery facility. The Dewar cylinder must remain vertically upright and in a stable state. Also, special care must be taken not to tamper with the Ball Valves, Quick Coupling, Pressure Gauge and Relief Valves and other parts that may trigger evaporation or emission.

5.      Empty Tank Re-export is important.

The Dewar cylinders through which Helium gas is stored and delivered to the buyer are returnable items. Usually, there’s a refundable deposit for this cylinder which is paid back to the buyer on return, but besides that, there are stringent underlying trade clauses and conditions relating to the obligation to return.

Helium Gas Regulating Agencies in Nigeria

·         NAFDAC

·         NESREA

Nigeria Customs HS Code for Helium Gas

Nigeria Excise Duty Rate for Helium Gas

Working with a reputable freight forwarder or customs broker like Dreamworks Global Logistics Limited can also help you navigate the complexities of air freight shipping to international markets. In addition, we can provide valuable insights and expertise to ensure your shipments succeed.

If you need a competent and professional customs clearing agent in Nigeria for your Helium Gas shipment, why not get a free quote @ from us?

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