The latest development in the global helium market has involved a hearing to discuss the proposed Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 introduced by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski.

The Act will provide continued stable access to the taxpayer-owned helium supplies while industry starts-up and continues to develop new helium supplies.

Legislation to complete the privatization of the Federal Government’s helium stockpile is an important and serious matter.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Federal Helium Program and the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 is the product of two years of bipartisan consultation among all stakeholders on how to conclude the Federal Helium Program while maximising public revenue.

Praxair, Inc. was among the major industrial gas companies to applaud the hearing this week, while Air Products is also believed to have been in support of the proposed plan, with the company’s Director of Helium Sourcing & Supply Chain, Walter L. Nelson, among those on Witness Panel 1.

“In his testimony to the hearing, available in PDF format at the website of the US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources*, Nelson said, “First, I want to commend the leadership of this Committee for introducing a bill that, while not perfect, reflects real wisdom about how to address the BLM helium situation going forward.”

“Unlike legislation recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate proposal protects the stability of the helium supply chain, avoids entanglements with existing contracts, and respects private property rights”

Scott Kaltrider, Vice-President of Business Management and Helium, Praxair, Inc.

“This bill accomplishes the goals of maximising the return to the US taxpayer, ensuring the reliability of supply for end-users, honouring contract and property rights, and it does this without disrupting the helium supply chains, all at the same time - very impressive!”

Praxair also applauded the committee hearing. The company released a statement in which Scott Kaltrider, Praxair’s Vice-President of Business Management and Helium, commented, “The privatisation of the Federal Helium Reserve in 1996 is an example of the value of public-private partnerships.”

“In this case, US industrial gas companies invested in refining, enrichment, and distribution facilities which bring substantial value to assets owned by American taxpayers. The Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 preserves the value of this partnership while also instituting important free-market reforms.”

Kaltrider added, “The Wyden-Murkowski Senate proposal provides a thoughtful approach that institutes free-market reforms while also ensuring access to all market participants. Unlike legislation recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate proposal protects the stability of the helium supply chain, avoids entanglements with existing contracts, and respects private property rights.”

“By contrast, H.R. 527, the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act, if enacted into law as proposed, would replace the current, highly predictable helium supply system with a semi-annual auction that destabilises the entire helium supply system.”

 

* http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings?Id=9c129d49-385d-4fdd-8f56-105c180403a2&Statement_id=1c76b159-afc7-4ecd-ac82-a75e15a694b7