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Page added on December 31, 2017

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Helium in the high desert highlands

Geology

Helium is important to the United States of America. Western Colorado and eastern Utah together will play a modest but important role in providing America with this lesser known naturally occurring gas central to the nation’s modern standard of living.

In 2016, The Wild Earth Guardians protested mineral leases north of Grand Junction auctioned by the Bureau of Land Management. The leases were nominated for drilling within an existing historical gas production area. The Wild Earth Guardians’ indiscriminate, copy-and-paste approach to stopping commercial production of all public minerals reveals an eco-opposition business model that doesn’t consider how such mineral leases might matter to the greater national interest. The group’s dogmatic opposition to all development, in this case though, left them humorously blind to a fact: the Wild Earth Guardians are opposing helium production all the while thinking they’re trying to stop natural gas production. Or maybe their organization also opposes helium despite its critical use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines —a use for which there is no known substitute.

In addition to MRI machines, helium is used in electronics, robotics, space exploration and a litany of advanced manufacturing processes and scientific research. In fact, in 2012, GE Healthcare invested around $17 million to capture and recycle helium from its MRI machines — that’s how important helium is. Unlike other gases critical to society (like natural gas and propane) helium is relatively rare. And, unlike natural gas, the end uses of helium usually have no viable substitute. These facts made the recent global helium shortage alarming for researchers and government officials nationwide; and, resulted in 14 percent of today’s helium market being supplied from the national helium reserve — an unsustainable situation. Perhaps equally concerning, 33 percent of the world’ helium supply comes from Qatar. This fact makes many first-world nation’s more reliant on the Middle East for helium than they are for oil. While most Americans simply know helium as the lifeblood of party balloons, support for local helium drilling in places like western Colorado and eastern Utah will only improve as residents in the Rocky Mountains learn what the Wild Earth Guardians don’t know — that this rare compressed gas is critical to welding, semi-conductors, fiber optics, airline navigation systems and countless other applications in the world of medicine and scientific research. In fact, 41 percent of the global helium supply is extracted from natural gas. This makes our region’s natural gas producers potential helium producers too. Locally, Wild Earth Guardians probably don’t know Mesa County has a helium production fractionator. So a woman receiving a brain scan MRI in England may very well be the beneficiary of a small but important helium processing facility right there in the Grand Valley.

The first economic natural gas wells north of Grand Junction were drilled in 1949 in the desert below the Bookcliffs. The natural gas field today is called the Asbury field. These shallow wells supplied the city with its first natural gas. Once the wells were depleted, the field was reversed and the wells still serve as Grand Junction’s natural gas storage facility today. But new drilling in these shallow geologic formations hasn’t been pursued for decades due to the gas reserves containing many inert and uncommercial gases like nitrogen. With a helium fractionator north of Grand Junction, helium production may indeed, in the future, make wells in northern Mesa County (and eastern Utah) economic again while contributing to one of the most challenging natural resource supply challenges in the world.

Before planning your child’s next birthday party, know that the WildEarth Guardians might be on the sidewalk protesting your 6-year-old’s bouquet of helium-filled balloons — as an extension of their protest of recent gas leases in Mesa County. But rest assured, helium producing members of the West Slope Colorado Oil & Gas Association will nonetheless continue working to provide elected leaders in local communities information on the value of helium to our society. Educating each other on how America’s natural gas producers are critical players when it comes to solving the challenges of America’s helium supply is important in the face of opposition by Wild Earth Guardians, and local groups like them, when it comes to natural resource production on federal lands.

Mesa State College graduate David Ludlam is the executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

gjsentinel.com



17 Comments on "Helium in the high desert highlands"

  1. Anonymous on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 8:28 pm 

    (off topic)

    Has David Hughes finally given up? It has been a hoot to read his reports from 2006 (peak gas) to 2011 to 2013 to 2015 to 2016. Each time getting spanked by shale gas, but never changing his bias.

    This year, nothing. No documents since DEC16. Has he finally given up and snuck away? Like the other failed peakers?

  2. Anonymous on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 8:38 pm 

    By the way, US crude oil production hit 9.637 MM bopd in OCT. This was a near term record. Higher than the APR15 record we hit as the last boom was tailing off during the price crash. Is the highest since MAY 1971.

    The all time monthly record is 10.044 MM bopd, set back in NOV 1970.

    It becomes an interesting question when we will break this record. EIA predicts it will happen in OCT 2018. But their predictions (initially blasted as too optomistic!) are now looking conservative.

    I have seen guesses all the way from latest MAR18 to as early as NOV17. (That’s right, last month…but only reported at end of JAN18.) The near term guesses are not as crazy as one might think because even the OCT data had GOM down about 0.2MM bopd from normal (hurricanes).

  3. MASTERMIND on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 9:52 pm 

    Anyoumouse

    As M. King Hubbert (1962) shows, Peak Oil is about discovering less oil, and eventually producing less oil due to lack of discovery.
    https://imgur.com/a/6dEDt

    IEA Chief warns of world oil shortages by 2020 as discoveries fall to record lows
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/iea-says-global-oil-discoveries-at-record-low-in-2016-1493244000

    Peak Oil Vindicated by the IEA

  4. MASTERMIND on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 9:53 pm 

    Projection of World Fossil Fuels by Country (Mohr, 2015)
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016236114010254

    The End of Peak Oil? Why this topic is still relevant despite recent denials (Chapman, 2014)
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030142151300342X

    German Military (leaked) Peak Oil study concludes: oil is used in the production of 95% of all industrial goods, so a shortage of oil would collapse the world economy & world governments

    https://www.permaculture.org.au/files/Peak%20Oil_Study%20EN.pdf

    The world’s largest oil trader Vitol says US oil production will peak in 2018
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-commodities-summit-vitol/u-s-oil-output-may-be-set-for-last-spike-in-2018-vitol-idUSKBN1CF1MZ?rpc=401&

  5. MASTERMIND on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 9:55 pm 

    Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Warns of World Oil Shortages Ahead
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-minister-sees-end-of-oil-price-slump-1476870790

    Saudi Aramco CEO believes oil shortage coming despite U.S. shale boom
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/10/saudi-aramco-ceo-believes-oil-shortage-coming-despite-u-s-shale-boom.html

    UAE warns of world oil shortages ahead by 2020 due to industry spending cuts
    http://www.arabianindustry.com/oil-gas/news/2016/nov/6/more-spending-cuts-as-uae-predicts-oil-shortages-5531344/

    Halliburton CEO says oil will spike due to oil shortages by 2020 after Industry Cuts
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-12/halliburton-sees-2020-oil-spike-after-industry-cuts-2-trillion

    Total CEO warns we are going to have oil shortages around 2020 due to lack of investment & new discoveries
    http://www.boursorama.com/actualites/je-suis-convaincu-qu-on-va-manquer-de-petrole-selon-le-pdg-de-total-patrick-pouyanne-9b2d911a65572f5f989a74319b68d296

    HSBC Global Bank warns 80% of the worlds conventional fields are declining and world oil shortages ahead
    https://www.scribd.com/document/367688629/HSBC-Peak-Oil-Report-2017

    UBS Global Bank warns of industry slowdown and world Oil Shortages by 2020
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/12136886/Oil-slowdown-to-trigger-supply-crisis-by-2020-warns-bank.html

    Citigroup CEO Ed Morse warns of oil shortages coming as soon as 2018
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-25/citi-says-get-ready-for-an-oil-squeeze-than-an-opec-supply-surge

    Wood Mackenzie warns of oil supply crunch and world oil shortages around 2020
    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/The-Next-Oil-Price-Spike-May-Cripple-The-Industry.html

    Energy watchdog warns oil and electricity shortages could develop as investment falls
    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/10/watchdog-warns-of-oil-and-electricity-shortages-as-investment-falls.html

    Why investors’ should brace for a devastating oil shortage ahead
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-investors-should-brace-for-a-devastating-oil-shock-ahead-2017-07-03

    Is an Economic Oil Crash Around the Corner?
    https://www.alternet.org/environment/economic-oil-crash-around-corner

    World Oil Shortages To Lead To Oil Price Spike By 2020s, warns Goldman Sachs
    http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Supply-Crunch-To-Lead-To-Oil-Price-
    Spike-By-2020s-Expert-Says.html

    Chevron CEO warns US shale oil alone cannot meet the world’s growing demand for crude
    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/01/us-shale-cannot-meet-the-worlds-growing-oil-demand-chevron-ceo-warns.html

  6. MASTERMIND on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 9:56 pm 

    Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Warns of World Oil Shortages Ahead
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-minister-sees-end-of-oil-price-slump-1476870790

    Saudi Aramco CEO believes oil shortage coming despite U.S. shale boom
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2017/07/10/saudi-aramco-ceo-believes-oil-shortage-coming-despite-u-s-shale-boom.html

    UAE warns of world oil shortages ahead by 2020 due to industry spending cuts
    http://www.arabianindustry.com/oil-gas/news/2016/nov/6/more-spending-cuts-as-uae-predicts-oil-shortages-5531344/

    Halliburton CEO says oil will spike due to oil shortages by 2020 after Industry Cuts
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-12/halliburton-sees-2020-oil-spike-after-industry-cuts-2-trillion

  7. MASTERMIND on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 9:57 pm 

    HSBC Global Bank warns 80% of the worlds conventional fields are declining and world oil shortages ahead
    https://www.scribd.com/document/367688629/HSBC-Peak-Oil-Report-2017

    UBS Global Bank warns of industry slowdown and world Oil Shortages by 2020
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/12136886/Oil-slowdown-to-trigger-supply-crisis-by-2020-warns-bank.html

    Citigroup CEO Ed Morse warns of oil shortages coming as soon as 2018
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-25/citi-says-get-ready-for-an-oil-squeeze-than-an-opec-supply-surge

    Wood Mackenzie warns of oil supply crunch and world oil shortages around 2020
    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/The-Next-Oil-Price-Spike-May-Cripple-The-Industry.html

    Energy watchdog warns oil and electricity shortages could develop as investment falls
    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/10/watchdog-warns-of-oil-and-electricity-shortages-as-investment-falls.html

    Why investors’ should brace for a devastating oil shortage ahead
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-investors-should-brace-for-a-devastating-oil-shock-ahead-2017-07-03

    Sorry Anonopuss! I am bring gansta back!

  8. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 10:08 pm 

    Helium is a critical national security asset
    due to its usage in party balloons.

    There is no technological substitute
    for helium at all. For example, in the
    helium party balloon, a proposal to use
    hrdrogen is totally unworkable because
    of flammability of hydrogen.

    Helium has no substitutes. This is why
    we must maintain a supply of helium
    for party balloons which are so critical
    to the USA economy.

  9. MASTERMIND on Sun, 31st Dec 2017 11:56 pm 

    The Great Depression 1929-1940 Economic Growth GDP (1%)

    The Great Recession 2006-2017 Economic Growth GDP (1.5%)

    The Great Recession 2006-2017 Economic Growth Per Capita GDP (0.3%)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression
    http://www.history.com/topics/great-depression
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/188165/annual-gdp-growth-of-the-united-states-since-1990/
    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.KD.ZG?locations=US

  10. GregT on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 12:18 am 

    Happy New Years everyone!

    May we all live in interesting times.

  11. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 2:09 am 

    Happy New Year Greg T, an everybody,
    Got a nice big tire-fire going in the
    backyard, and at midnight, we’re
    gonna throw in a carton of fireworks!

    Happy New Year Mr Rockman,
    Sissy foots, Clogster, Mastered Mind,
    Mick, der Honda is Toast,
    Hyper Davy an Makita Power Tools
    (shooting flaming arrows at each other)…
    onlooker, Anonymouse,

    An all the other folks on Peak Oil
    another year 2018 to pump the oil
    wells dry! Til it’s Mad Max dune
    buggies road racing in the desert
    for the last of the gasoline!

  12. Cloggie on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 3:31 am 

    Mastermind is not a debater but a spammer.

    Here is what happens if you do not use helium in a “party balloon”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH-mhZLuGRk

  13. Cloggie on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 3:48 am 

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium#Occurrence_and_production

    Modern extraction and distribution

    For large-scale use, helium is extracted by fractional distillation from natural gas, which can contain as much as 7% helium.[Since helium has a lower boiling point than any other element, low temperature and high pressure are used to liquefy nearly all the other gases (mostly nitrogen and methane). The resulting crude helium gas is purified by successive exposures to lowering temperatures, in which almost all of the remaining nitrogen and other gases are precipitated out of the gaseous mixture. Activated charcoal is used as a final purification step, usually resulting in 99.995% pure Grade-A helium. The principal impurity in Grade-A helium is neon.

  14. Mick on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 5:36 am 

    Happy new year GSR keep burning dem sofas n tires

  15. deadly on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 7:29 am 

    Balloons? For what?

    You use helium in balloons to have a source of helium. Gotta store it somehow. You then can breathe into your lungs to sound like a cartoon character.

    Everybody knows that. Jeesh.

    I can’t think of any other use for helium, other than rocket fuel.

    Oh, wait, that’s liquid hydrogen.

    Gottza have a lot of refrigeration equipment to freeze helium.

    Who dreams up these hare-brained ideas like identifying the elements and forming a periodic table? Don’t they have anything better to do?

    Who’s got time to build refrigeration equipment?

    It’s better to sit on your ass in the White House and think you are in control.

    Building an industrial base so people can survive is for the birds.

    More facts:

    https://cryo.gsfc.nasa.gov/introduction/liquid_helium.html

  16. Go Speed Racer on Mon, 1st Jan 2018 12:30 pm 

    Yo Mr Mick !
    Happy New Year !
    Didn’t hear from ya in a whole year.
    Not since 2017.
    That was so funny that Sat night party
    in 2017 glad you showed up, makin
    so much noise and when the police
    pulled up the look on your face and
    you was th first one jumped over that
    6 foot fence, got away thru the neighbors
    yard. Happy New Year !

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