The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold a sale and auction of federally-owned crude helium tomorrow, 26th August, at its Amarillo Field Office in Texas.

The sale and auction will begin at 1:00 p.m. local time and will be live streamed at http://www.blm.gov/live.

The sale complies with the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 that established an auction system for the sale of the federal helium and mandated that all property, equipment and interest held by the US in the Federal Helium Reserve be disposed of by 30th September 2021.

The BLM began an implementation plan in 2014 to provide for an orderly transition to a privatised system, while ensuring minimal market disruption. The plan included a series of helium sales (auctions and conservation helium sales), measures to ensure continued access to the helium supply for federal users, and the disposal of government assets in the system.

Operated by the BLM, the US Federal Helium Reserve continues to deplete. Volumes delivered via the BLM pipeline will decline each year as reserve depletes and the pressure declines – with expectations that it will be fully depleted by 2020, except for a 3 BCF (billion cubic feet) stockpile. This stockpile will only be sold to Federal Helium Users.

As capacity along the BLM pipeline declines, the world’s reliance on sources with little storage capacity will increase and the reliability of the industry’s helium supply chain will likely be brought into question once again, gasworld understands.

A sense of stability has only returned to the global helium business in the last 18 months, with the market in a state of over-supply in 2015 after three years of significant shortages. Estimates suggest that the entry of new capacity in the market in late 2013 and early 2014 achieved up to a 25% increment in world helium supply, taking the market from a situation of shortages to over-supply, but this is expected to subside over the year ahead, with balance returning by the end of 2016.

gasworld recently announced that it will stage Helium Summit 2.0 in 2016, building upon the success of the first-ever Helium Summit in 2013 and addressing the evolving dynamics in this most topical of markets.