Helium is widely used in medical equipment such as MRI, aerospace and precision machinery. A global shortage of Helium spurred a new wave of exploration in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin.
A Growing Market
The crude helium market is estimated at 10 billion $ per year and consumption is 6 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per year, with a 10% yearly growth. The price of crude helium grew 135%, from $119/Mcf in 2018 to $280/Mcf in 2019.
The US federal Helium reserve in Amarillo, TX, managed by the US Bureau of Land Management, sold helium to the industry since 1996, but it ceased public sale of the gas in 2019.
Deposits in WCSB
Helium is a by-product of radioactive decay of heavy elements found in the metamorphic basement, and can be found in accumulations at the base of sedimentary basins, often associated with other inert gases such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide, or in association with natural gas. The Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin has known accumulations of gas containing 0.5 to 2.5% Helium by volume. Exploration for the noble gas is underway in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Helium is currently produced and refined in Southern Saskatchewan.
Canadian Helium Operators
- North American Helium develops and refined Helium in Saskatchewan
- Royal Helium are actively developing Helium properties in Saskatchewan,
- Imperial Helium explores and develops Helium properties in Southern Alberta
- Avanti Energy explores for Helium in Alberta and Montana
- Other companies involved in helium exploration are Thor Resources, Weil Group, City of Medicine Hat, First Helium
Chinook Consulting assists Helium operators with the same suite of services catered to the oil and gas industry:
- Geological Wellsite Supervision
- Drilling and Completions
- Reservoir studies
- Laboratory services