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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1977
Year 1977, Volume 1 (1977)

Foster, Russell J.
Helium,   pp. 469-476 PDF (643.4 KB)


Page 469

  469Helium 
By Russell J. Foster1 
 Domestic sales of high purity helium (minimum 99.995% purity) in 1977 increased
37% to 789 million cubic feet.2 The Bureau of Mines sold 28% of the total,
and private industry accounted for the remainder. Exports of high purity
helium, all by private producers, declined 3% to 168 mil 
lion cubic feet. The Bureau of Mines f.o.b. plant price for high purity helium
remained at $35 per thousand cubic feet, unchanged since 1961. High purity
helium sold by private producers averaged approximately $22.50 per thousand
cubic feet. 
DOMESTIC PRODUCTION 
 Nine plants with the capacity to extract helium from natural gas were operational
in 1977. Seven of the plants were owned by private industry and the other
two were owned by the U.S. Government and operated by the Bureau of Mines.
Five extraction plants were located in Kansas, two in Texas, and one each
in New Mexico and Oklahoma. 
 Total helium extracted from natural gas in 1977, by private and government
plants, was 1.5 billion cubic feet, an increase of 12% over the amount produced
in 1976. High purity helium extraction increased 27%, but the amount of crude
helium extracted declined 9%. High purity helium produced for sale comprised
64% of the total helium extracted and crude helium constituted 36%. The Bureau
of Mines accounted for 
23% of the high purity and 22% of the 
crude helium extracted, and private industry the remainder. 
 The Bureau of Mines awarded two contracts to CTI-Cryogenics, a division
of Helix Technology Corp., for the construction, startup, and testing of
a new helium purification facility capable of producing 600,000 cubic feet
of pure helium per day from a 70% to 78% crude helium feed gas, and a new
500-liter-per-hour-capacity helium liquefaction facility at the Bureau's
Exell, Tex., plant. 
 Liquid helium production capacity of the Bureau will be increased to about
100 liters per hour with the addition of another helium liquefier at the
Amarillo, Tex., shipping terminal in 1978. The unit was purchased from Kerr-McGee
Corp.'s Navajo, Ariz., plant, which closed in 1976. 


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