The potential ‘Helium Cliff’ crisis has been averted, after the US House of Representatives unanimously backed measures that will re-authorize the Federal Helium Program.
The House of Representatives passed the resolution that would suspend its procedural rules and adopt the Senate version of legislation to re-authorize the Federal Helium Program, with the vote unanimously in favour at 367 - 0.
All that remained was for the legislation to be signed and sealed by President Obama.
It is understood that the BLM program will continue on under the current allocation process for another year and the helium program will continue to offer helium from the stored reserves, albeit under different terms, until it reaches the strategic level of 3 BSCF – at which time the BLM will only sell to Federal Helium Users.
The news is seen as the helium business achieving a something of a soft landing from a potentially precarious situation; there had been fears that the Federal Helium Reserve, operated by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), would stop selling commercial helium this October as it would have technically paid off its debt and funding was not provided for to take it beyond that point – a move that would cut access to half of the domestic (US) supply and cause significant disruption to the helium supply chain.
Look out for further fallout and analysis from the passing of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 in the Q4 issue of Specialty Gas Report, coming soon.