On November 15 this year, history will be made in the helium market when sealed bidding opens for the Federal Helium System at Cliffside, located northwest of Amarillo, Texas.The sale is highly anticipated and will present the private market with the chance to acquire up to 1.8 billion cubic feet of helium, and an asset that today supplies 20% of domestic demand and 9% of global helium demand.
Why the sale and why now? The Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 required that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) helium assets be designated as excess by no later than September 30, 2021.
Therefore, BLM reported the assets as excess to the General Services Administration (GSA), thereby satisfying the legislative requirement that the assets be designated excess by end-September 2021.
Originally, a target date for the sale was set for Q4 2022. However, the sale date was postponed to allow the government additional time to address issues that were raised by government stakeholders, including issues flagged by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 2022 that were corrected and got a final close out letter in March of this year; and getting comfortable with GSA’s terms of sale, including the expansive title work on a 423-mile long helium pipeline and how GSA has included a bid requirement that the purchaser will assume BLM’s responsibilities for 11 separate and ongoing helium storage and delivery contracts.
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