The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing to sell and auction federally owned crude helium on August 18, 2015, at its Amarillo Field Office near Amarillo, Texas, for delivery in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.

The proposal complies with the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 (Act), passed by Congress in October 2013, that established an auction system for the sale of the Federal helium and mandated that all property, equipment and interest held by the United States in the Federal Helium Reserve be disposed of by September 30, 2021.

In response to the provisions of the Act, the BLM began an implementation plan in 2014 to provide for an orderly transition to a privatized 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 no later than September 30, 2021.

The proposed plan and schedule for the FY 2016 auction and sale was announced in the Federal Register on June 12, 2015, under the title “Notice of Proposed Action: Crude Helium Sale and Auction for FY 2016 Delivery.”

The Federal Register Notice includes a 30-day public comment period, and also proposed August 18, 2015, for the helium auction at the BLM Amarillo Field Office, 801 South Fillmore Street, Suite 500.

Helium is used in the testing of rocket engines, welding, commercial diving, and semiconductor chips. The element’s ability to reach very low temperatures attracts many commercial and institutional users who conduct magnetic resonance imaging and other scientific applications. Other industries depend on helium’s lifting powers for operating weather and party balloons.

The Federal Helium Program is responsible for the conservation and sale of federally-owned helium. The BLM operates and maintains a helium storage reservoir, enrichment plant, and pipeline system near Amarillo that supplies enough helium to meet more than 40% of domestic demand for the gas.

Additional documents relating to the proposed plan for the FY 2016 sale and auction, including documents related to the 2014 Federal Register Notice and the 2014 Auction Notice, can be found on the Field Office’s website at: http://www.blm.gov/nm/helium