In a storyline that practically begs attention from the Austin Powers’ character Dr. Evil, the U.S. Government is selling the Federal Helium Reserve after controlling all helium found on federal land since 1925. The U.S. produces 43% of the world’s helium supply with most of it coming from the FHR. The sale is set to begin July 12.
Reese Energy Consulting today is following the latest news from the BLM, which now manages the FHR located near Amarillo. Assets there include the Cliffside gas field, a gas plant, 23 wells, the Bush Dome (the world’s only helium storage facility), a 425-mile pipeline system that connects to refineries in Texas, Okla., and Kans., and other plant equipment. But the true gem of the package is the 1.8 BCF of crude helium estimated at $300 per MCF. The next owner will have a sweet customer base, too. NASA is the largest buyer to make jet fuel. Helium is also used to make MRI magnets, semi-conductor chips, fiber optics, and microscopes.
Some folks aren’t so keen on privatization, though, warning of supply interruptions and a matter of national security. The Compressed Gas Association last year compiled a list of buyer-beware issues that range from ROW problems on 14 miles of the pipeline to the helium enrichment unit—a critical piece of equipment that’s currently owned by four other companies. But if the thought of world dominance through helium supply sounds appealing, this might be your chance of a lifetime. If you use your powers for good, that is.