Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals, minerals, and fuels 1972
Year 1972, Volume 1 (1972)
Koelling, Gordon W.
Helium, pp. 605-610 PDF (613.0 KB)
605Helium By Gordon W. Koelling Sales of high purity helium (99.995% purity) in the United States during 1972 increased 9% to a total of 489 million cubic feet.2 Approximately 36% of this total was sold by the Bureau of Mines and 64% was accounted for by private industry plant sales. Exports of high purity helium, all by private industry, totaled 138 million cubic feet in 1972. The f.o.b. Bureau of Mines plant price for high purity helium sold during the year remained at $35 per thousand cubic feet while private industry plant prices averaged $21 per thousand cubic feet. In compliance with an order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas issued on March 27, 1971, the Bureau of Mines continued to accept helium during 1972 under three of four conservation contracts whose termination provisions had been invoked by the Secretary of the Interior. This order was affirmed on appeal on the ground that the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act had not been complied with. On November 13, 1972, the Department released an environmental impact statement prepared in fortherance of an evaluation of the environmental consequences of termination of the contracts. A ruling made by the U.S. Court of Claims on January 21, 1972, held that the Government had materially breached its agreement with the fourth contractor.. The issue of damages is pending. This firm continued to deliver helium, to the Bureau of Mines for storage to its account, pursuant to an interim storage agreement until expiration of the agreement on September 28, 1972. DOMESTIC PRODUCTION A total of 12 helium extraction plants were in operation during 1972. Of these two were owned by the Federal Govern. ment and operated by the Bureau of Mines, five were private industry plants extracting helium primarily for long-term conservation storage, and five were private industry plants producing helium for independent sale to commercial (non-Federal) customers. Total helium extracted from natural gas during 1972 declined approximately 10% to 4,089,501 thousand cubic feet despite a 9% increase in the output of high purity helium to 627,250 thousand cubic feet. Approximately 85% of total helium extracted was crude helium3 and 15% was high purity helium produced for sale. About 92% of crude helium production was from private industry conservation plants and 72% of high purity output was from private industry plants producing for sale to corn- mercial customers. The remaining 8% of crude and 28% of high purity helium produced was extracted by Bureau of Mines plants. Of the 438,665 thousand cubic feet of helium produced by the Bureau of Mines Keyes and Exell plants in 1972, approximately 88% was extracted from natural gas supplied by a private natural gas pipeline company on a gas-processing contract basis. The remaining 12% was extracted from natural gas that was produced from the Bureau of Mines Cliffside gasfield primarily in order to create additional reservoir space for helium conservation storage. All helium extraction from Cliffside natural gas occurred at the Exell plant. ' Geographer, Division of Fossil Fuels. 2 All helium statistics in this chapter are reported in terms of contained helium measured at 14.7 pounds per square inch absolute and 70' F. 3 Helium mixed with various quantities of other light gases, mostly nitrogen.
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