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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook 1949
Year 1949 (1951)

Mullins, P.V.; Goodling, R. M.
Helium,   pp. 599-602 PDF (547.3 KB)


Page 599

 Helium  599
By P. V. Mullins and R. M. Gooding
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T JIB Bureau of Mines produces all helium used by Government agencies and
commercial companies in the United States and
 — exports small quantities, chiefly for scientific use. Helium is
extracted from helium-bearing natural gases found principally in the southwestern
part of the United States. All helium produced in 1949 was extracted at the
Bureau of Mines Exell helium plant near Amarillo, Tex.
 Helium production in 1949 was 55,165,482 cubic feet, including 5,716,700
cubic feet produced and conserved by underground storage. By comparison,
63,143,513 cubic feet were produced in 1948; 7,794,000 were conserved in
underground storage. An important production development in 1949 was a substantial
increase in the plant-scale production of high-purity Grade A helium—99.95
percent or higher purity—for better utilization, particularly in inert-arc
welding.
 The helium demand of the Navy, chiefly for lighter-than-air craft, constituted.
the largest single demand. Other Federal agencies used significant amounts,
however, and commercial demand was a substantial proportion of the total.
Helium shipments to Federal agencies in 1949 amounted to 35,133,682 cubic
feet, compared, . with 34,877,490 cubic feet in 1948; non-Federal sales were
16,367,739 cubic feet compared with 16,037,856 cubic feet-in 1948.
 Reserves.—Helium-bearing natural gas for processing in Bureau plants
is available from Government-owned fields and from privately owned fields
through processing agreements. The principal Government-owned fields are
.the Oliffside and the Rattlesnake adjacent to, and available to supply gas
to, the Amarillo and Navajo helium plants, respectively. The helium-bearing
gas supply for the Exell plant is obtained from the West Panhandle (TeL)
field through a. processing agreement with a company transporting gas from
that area. The gas is being transported continuously to fuel and other markets,
and the contained helium is lost if not extracted concurrently with production
from the field.
 The Bureau has arrangements whereby helium produced at the Exell plant,
and not needed to meet demands, . may be transported through a connecting
pipeline to the nearby Government-owned Cliffside field and injected therein
for underground storage and conservation. In 1949, 5,716,700 cubic feet of
helium were produced and conserved in this manner.
 Reserves of helium in the Government-owned Chffside and Rattlesnake fields
amount to an estimated 2,800,000,000 cubic feet. Helium reserves in the West
Panhandle field, available to the Exell plant, are estimated at 1,500,000,000
cubic feet. Other major reserves of helium-bearing natural gas are known
and may become available through purcha~e by the Government or execution
of gas-processing agreements with the owners. No such reserves were acquired
in
1949.


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