IACX Energy, Dallas, has begun extracting and selling helium from gas wells in Harley Dome field, Grand County, Utah.
The helium plant, 40 miles west of Grand Junction, Colo., is the first helium-only application to extract the rare gas from federal lands and is IACX’s third helium plant. The plant has an initial recovery rate of 100 Mcfd of helium.
Discovered in 1925 on the Uncompahgre uplift, Harley Dome field was designated “Federal Helium Reserve No. 2” by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934.
Despite the proven nature of the reserve, it has remained unexploited until now. The field’s unusual gas composition, 7% helium with the balance being mostly nitrogen, and its low reservoir pressure proved to be a barrier to prior attempts to develop the field. IACX’s small-scale, low-pressure helium extraction technology has enabled development of Harley Dome.
At a time when domestic helium supplies are on decline and the federal helium storage is depleting, IACX is actively developing new domestic supplies. For almost 100 years, the US has been the world’s largest producer of helium, but conventional, domestic supplies are declining and other international sources such as Algeria, Qatar, and Russia are on the rise.
Helium has strategic and indispensable uses in many high-tech applications such as magnetic resonance imaging machines, semiconductor manufacturing, the US space program, and fiber optic cables. The availability of domestic supplies of helium is critically important to a wide array of US industries.
IACX is developing other high-helium deposits across the country and is positioned for rapid growth as it continues to combine its helium purification technology with its ability to locate and produce helium-rich feedstocks. The company is also working with natural gas producers to highlight the considerable value of helium that may be present in their production.
IACX believes that significant volumes of helium are not recovered by today's natural gas producers. Where helium is present in economic quantities, its value help can offset the impact of low natural gas prices.