New Source of Helium Found in Tanzania

“A new approach to gas exploration has discovered a huge helium gas field, which could address the increasingly critical shortage of this vital yet rare element. Now, a research group from Oxford and Durham universities, working with Helium One, a helium exploration company headquartered in Norway, has developed a brand new exploration approach. The first use of this method has resulted in the discovery of a world-class helium gas field in Tanzania.”

“Dr. Gluyas said the gas discovered in Tanzania may be as much as 10 percent helium, a huge proportion compared with most other sources. The researchers say the reservoir might contain as much as 54 billion cubic feet of the gas, or more than twice the amount currently in the Federal Helium Reserve, near Amarillo, Tex., which supplies about 40 percent of the helium used in the United States and is being drawn down.”

TECHCET’s read on the situation: The find of what is reported to be “as much as 10%” must be verified and it is not clear if the source will be difficult to access.  Assuming the new source is no more difficult to access than other viable wells, it will still required 2-3 years to build plants that would be capable of extracting and purifying the gas.  Should these gas plants be built without any major problems, then this new source of Helium could relieve current problems associated with tight supply.  However, with regard to relieving price escalation, this is left to be seen.  Gas companies are in the business to make money, and it is likely that the lure of future high ASPs and margins will greatly influence any would-be investors of the future Tanzania helium plant. Is this the making of a future ‘Helium Cartel’ ?  We hope not, but time will tell.

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