The US Bureau of Land Management’s Moab field office has approved an application for a permit to drill for helium near Harley Dome just off Interstate 70 about five miles west of the Utah-Colorado border.

A spokesman from the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Lisa Bryant, said in a news release that the agency has signed the Decision Record (DR) and Finding of No Significant Impact for the project. On Tuesday the 2nd of April the Grand County Council voted unanimously to approve a required conditional use permit for the project.

Flatirons Resources LLC applied to the BLM field office for a permit to drill a 1,100-foot exploratory well in the Harley Dome gas field and for an associated right-of-way to transport the produced gas via a surface pipeline to a new gas processing plant that would be brought in, according to the BLM news release.

IACX Energy of Dallas, Texas, would operate the plant. The Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission voted February 27th to recommend approval of the project.

If the exploratory well finds enough high-quality helium, Flatirons will construct a four inch, 7,183-foot pipeline to a small plant where the helium will be removed from the gas stream and compressed for truck transport, the BLM said.

The well would be on federal land in northern Grand County and the helium extraction plant would be on 1.4 acres of private property, according to the news release.

“The project environmental assessment considered a wide range of potential impacts to natural and cultural resources, and the DR includes best management practices and reclamation plans to mitigate identified impacts,” the news release said.

Bryant said during an interview that helium has been extracted across Utah, but usually in small amounts collected while capturing larger quantities of oil and natural gas.

However, it appears that Harley Dome contains a significantly higher percentage of helium and lower percentage of hydrocarbons and methane than usual, she said.

“That would make it economical just to extract helium,” Bryant said. “It would be potentially the first helium-only well in Utah and several other states.”

Helium is a colorless, odorless gas with the lowest boiling and melting points of all the natural elements, according to the BLM news release.

Lee Shenton, Grand County technical inspector, said there is a shortage of helium, which has boosted prices. He said helium, which has been liquefied, is primarily used as a coolant for MRI machines.

The BLM has additional information about the proposed project in an Environmental Assessment, which is available at www.blm.gov/ut/enbb/index.php.