The Government of Saskatchewan wants to supply 10% of the global helium market share by 2030, in a move that will make the province a world leader in helium production and export over the next decade.

This was the great ambition outlined in the Helium Action Plan: From Exploration to Exports. Released on Monday (Nov 16) by the Government, the plan provides policy and program commitments to support and grow the entire helium value chain.

Believed to increase production through an additional 150-plus dedicated helium wells, build up to 15 helium purification and liquefaction facilities and generate annual helium exports worth more than $500m, the action plan lays the foundations for the future of helium.

As gasworld hear from Saskatchewan’s Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre back in September, Saskatchewan has the fifth-largest helium resource in the world with significant underground reserves with some attractive geology.

This statement has now been solidified with the launch of the action plan – and Minister Eyre has great belief that Saskatchewan’s ambitious goals are more than achievable. “In Saskatchewan, helium exploration and production and leading to more wells, more jobs, more facilities and, ultimately, more exports,” she said.

Saskatchewan’s helium market has undoubtably seen significant growth in the past year alone. In April (2021), North American Helium (NAH) opened its $30m Battle Creek Helium Purification Facility which is expected to produce more than 50 million cubic feet per year of purified helium for commercial sale.

On the Government’s support for Saskatchewan’s helium future, Marlon McDougall, President and Chief Operating Officer at North American Helium, said, “This announcement further solidifies Saskatchewan’s position as a best-in-class jurisdiction in which to explore, build infrastructure, and produce helium that can serve global markets.”

“North American Helium is a leader in all of these areas and is planning to rapidly expand its liquid and gaseous helium productive capacity to replace currently depleting sources of helium from hydrocarbon fields with reliable new long-term supply with significantly lower emissions.”

Of course, helium is a vital commodity used in medical research, semiconductor manufacturing, space exploration, fibre optics, nuclear power generation and other advanced technology sectors, therefore Saskatchewan’s commitment is great news for both the market and those who utilise the gas.

Saskatoon-based Royal Helium is another helium exploration firm that is active in the Canadian province and recently announced a significant helium discovery at its Climate project, which has the potential to be one of the largest helium discoveries in Saskatchewan’s history.

Welcoming the act, Andrew Davison, President and CEO of Royal Helium, said, “Royal Helium is proud to play a leading role in the sustainable development of Saskatchewan’s world-class helium resources, alongside our neighbours North American Helium and in concert with the Government of Saskatchewan.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Saskatchewan to become a major supplier of helium, which is critical for healthcare and high-tech industries both locally and around the world.”