DENVER, CO / ACCESSWIRE / July 7, 2023 / Total Helium's (OTCQB:TTLHF) helium field in the Holbrook Basin of Arizona is helping North America establish helium independence. Total Helium is an exploration, production and storage company for this essential resource, and its goal is to provide North America with a dependable domestic supply of helium.
The importance of accessing domestically sourced helium was highlighted last year when shortages reportedly caused the spot price to rocket to $2,000 per cubic foot (mcf), a 300% increase from 2021 prices. Very few countries produce helium, and in recent years Russia and Qatar have become some of the world's largest exporters of helium.
However, sanctions from the Ukraine war have disrupted the Russian supply of helium. Another disruption was caused when the major Russian production facility Gazprom Amur was damaged in a serious fire, which caused a reduction in the country's output.
The supply from Qatar has also proved unreliable. Problems with neighboring Arab countries in 2017 stopped their exports and temporarily affected 25% of the global access to helium. Then, in 2021, a blockage at the Suez Canal caused another serious disruption to the helium supply chain.
The Importance Of Domestic Helium Supplies
These disruptions indicate the need for America to establish its own independent, reliable supply of helium. Helium plays an important role in a range of industrial and technological sectors. Aside from its well-known use in balloons, helium is also essential in the manufacturing of semiconductor chips. Congress's 2022 CHIPS and Science Act highlighted the need for more investment in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and development, and a stable supply of helium is a key component of semiconductor production.
Other uses for helium include its role in welding, rockets and national defense applications like surveillance machines and air-to-air missile guidance systems. Helium is also used in medical devices, and the extensive use of helium in MRI machines makes hospitals dependent on a consistent supply. In fact, in 2021 hospitals used 32% of the global market's helium, making them the largest end-users of helium.
The U.S. government used to put a greater emphasis on maintaining domestic helium supplies. The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) got involved in helium production in the early 20th century, and for a while, it maintained the Federal Helium Reserve. However, the Helium Privatization Act in the mid-90s caused the BLM to sell off its reserves, and the last auction was finalized in 2019. This contributed to the collapse of the U.S.'s dominance in the market, with its share of global production declining from 80% in 2015 to 56% in 2018.
Total Helium Brings Stability To Domestic Helium Supply
As the recent shortages suggest, losing access to a dependable supply of helium could hurt the U.S. economy and even pose a threat to national security. This belief has motivated Total Helium, which has the goal of giving America helium independence through a reliable, domestic supply.
With its joint venture project in the Pinta South helium field in Arizona, Total Helium is looking to put U.S. production of helium back on the map. It has a working interest in 27,000 acres of a helium-rich field that includes seven producing wells and eight additional wells that are nearing production.
The field has the potential to expand the company's operations to 300+ wells, which would make sense to do given that the field has world-class helium concentrations of 5-8%. The accessible terrain also makes the drilling and extraction process straightforward and affordable, meaning Total Helium can keep the cost of each well to just $220,000.
As part of the project, Total Helium is collaborating with the major industrial gas and chemicals manufacturing company, Linde PLC. Its partnership with Linde, who recently got a contract to supply helium to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), includes an agreement that Linde will purchase helium from the 10 wells at the price of $500/mcf. Beyond the first ten wells, Total Helium has the ability to sell its helium on the open market, where prices are currently between $500-$1,000/mcf.
SOURCE: Total Helium Ltd.
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