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    Clearing Of Helium Gas at the Nigerian ports: 5 Things We’ve Learnt
    Updated On: 19 Feb 2023 | 944 Views

    Clearing Of Helium Gas at the Nigerian ports: 5 Things We’ve Learnt

    Clearing Of Helium Gas at the Nigerian ports: 5 Things We’ve Learnt

    Obtaining speedy customs release for imported items at Nigeria Airports requires knowledge, tact, and doggedness. This is more so when you are clearing special shipments such as Helium Gas. Valuehandlers will complete customs clearing of MRI Helium gas in Lagos, Nigeria air & Seaports. 

    My involvement as a freight and clearing agent of Helium in Nigeria over the past couple of years has afforded me a deeper understanding of how to secure super-fast and cost-effective releasing of Helium Gas shipments from the Nigeria Customs and other regulating agencies of government. Video of recently delivered Helium Gas tanks to Lagos Sate University Teaching Hostipal, LASUTH here.

    What is Helium Gas

    Helium is a colorless, odorless, 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 across several industries and uses. Among other important uses for helium are:

    -        The Internet

    -        Nuclear reactors

    -        Electronics

    -        Ship Leak Detection

    -        Semiconductor and fiber optic cable manufacturing

    -        Laboratory

    -        Treatment of Asthma and other respiratory problems and

    -        Arc Welding

    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 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. I have treated this under the 3 points below.

    a)       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 fulfillment 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 centiliter 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 concerns.

    d)      Discharge Expatriate Cost

    2.      Helium Gas has 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 both 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 multilayer vacuum insulation. This storage protects leakage and evaporation.

    d)      Re-order considerations: It’s advisable that a re-order for Helium gas into an MRI machine is made as soon as the gas level gets to about 50%. This is to avoid the risk of exhaustion due to lag of time between and order is made, and delivery is 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 Organization (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 unabatedly increasing. For instance, between October 2022 and beginning of February 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 in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

    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 item. Usually, there’s a refundable deposit for this cylinder which are 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 excerse Duty Rate for Helium Gas

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

    About the Writer: Adetayo George-Adewoye is a freight broker and logistics processional. Adetayo introduced pre-shipment consulting services into the shipping industry in 2012. He has offered high-level consulting service to medical / pharmaceutical sector, oil and gas multinationals, agricultural sector, Mining, and construction industry, manufactural, to procurement experts. Adetayo George-Adewoye is an award winner in the field of logistics, a member of the Lagos Chamber of commerce and industry, lions club international and freight net logistics network

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