Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook 1949
Year 1949 (1951)
Mullins, P.V.; Goodling, R. M.
Helium, pp. 599-602 PDF (547.3 KB)
Helium 599 By P. V. Mullins and R. M. Gooding + 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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