BOC Global Helium, Inc and Central Petroleum Limited have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to exchange information and to work towards the joint exploitation of helium targeted by Central’s exploration and appraisal programme.

It was planned in central Australia where previous exploration has resulted in confirmation of a sub-salt hydrocarbon and helium play type thought to be directly analogous to some of the petroleum fields of the Siberian Platform and the Sichuan Basin.

The BOC Group had a 2004 gross turnover and profit of some $8 billion and $1 billion respectively and has recently announced plans to construct a helium extraction plant in Darwin aimed at the domestic and export markets.

The most recent available figures for helium sales in the USA alone for 2003 stand at about 4.5 bcf which sold for prices ranging from $52.50 to $65.00 USD/mcf.

There has been a significant drawdown in helium in storage in the USA of about 6 bcf total from 1999 to 2003 inclusive. Helium demand on a global basis has grown at about 5% per annum for the last 10 years and total world reserves stood at 580 bcf in early 2004.

One of the prospects that Central plans to drill, the Mt Kitty Prospect, has potentially recoverable hydrocarbons at “high” estimate of up to 1.7 tcfg and the play type targeted by this prospect is regarded as being analogous to the Heavitree Quartzite play drilled at Magee 1 in 1992, which contained up to 6.3% helium on test which had been sealed effectively by salt beds of the Gillen Member of the Bitter Springs Formation.

Many commercial extracts of Helium from hydrocarbons take place with concentrations of only 0.3% or higher.