Date of this Version
This report deviates from previous reports in defining helium reserves. It includes only the estimated helium contained in fields and formations from which helium is currently being recovered. The Cliffside Gasfield is expected to continue to be used to deliver the helium needed to meet worldwide demand. Figure 6 shows the possible demand, using set criteria, for the helium stored in the Cliffside Gasfield to meet helium sales.
The identified helium resources of the United States are estimated at 449 Bcf as of December 31, 2002. This includes 131 Bcf of demonstrated reserves, 132 Bcf of demonstrated marginal reserves, and 37 Bcf of demonstrated subeconomic resources. The identified resources also include 149 Bcf of helium in inferred subeconomic resources. The demonstrated helium resources contained on Federal lands are approximately 150 Bcf, including 29 Bcf in underground storage in the Cliffside Gasfield near Amarillo, Texas. In addition to the identified helium resources, undiscovered helium resources in the United States are estimated at a most likely volume of 108 Bcf, with a maximum volume of 292 Bcf and a minimum volume of 44 Bcf. Also reported are 56 Bcf of helium in nonconventional and low helium content natural gases.
Current extraction of helium in the United States occurs mostly from natural gases produced from the Hugoton gas area in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and the Riley Ridge area in southwestern Wyoming. Helium extracted from natural gas in the United States in 2002 was approximately 3.1 Bcf, with additional production of stored helium from the Cliffside Gasfield of 1.4 Bcf. The volume of helium produced with the natural gas in the Hugoton gas area continues to decline. The trend continues to be the withdrawal from the Cliffside Gasfield of privately owned crude helium by private industry. The open market sale of the Government’s helium initiated in 2003 allows for the transfer of the Government owned helium to private industry. The helium sales from the mid-continent remained basically flat from 2000 to 2002. The helium market has not grown at the recent historical rates of 5.7 percent annually from 1995 to 2000. The helium sales forecast for the future is not clear at this time. Additional helium is expected to come into the market from plants in Algeria and Qatar during 2005. The helium extracted from natural gas produced in the mid-continent is estimated to be declining at 10 percent annually.