TABLE 4.1 Estimates of Helium Reserves Worldwide, 2008 (billion cubic feet)

Country

Reservesa

Reserve Basea

United states

153

350b

Algeria

64

300

Australia

NA

6.9c

Canada

NA

72

China

40

Indonesia

NA

14c

Poland

0.9

10

Qatar

360d

360

Russia

60

250

Other countries

NA

8.1

Total

638d

1,410

NOTE: NA means not applicable, as the country has no refining capacity.

aEntries are those from USGS, 2009, unless otherwise specified and are current estimates based on available information. They are not certified by any accrediting institution.

bIncludes measured and probable reserves rather than measured and indicated, as for other countries.

cConservative estimates based on planned liquid helium plant capacity (see discussion in text) and a 25-year minimum plant productive life.

dAccording to information compiled by the DOE’s Energy Information Administration, as discussed in the text.

tries, the aggregate effective reserves for their fields would be substantially less than the reserves shown in Table 4.1. In the one case outside the United States where information was available, this determination decreased the effective reserves of that country by as much as 70 percent.4 The information necessary to make such estimates is generally not publicly available, but it can be stated that in the United States such losses in reserves—that is, losses due to bypassing—though not negligible, are much less severe than in Qatar.

United States

The United States has reserves of approximately 153 Bcf and a reserve base of 350 Bcf. Table 4.2 details the amount of reserves for all principal fields in the United States currently believed to contain economically accessible concentrations of

4

The country in question, Qatar, produced approximately 2,200 Bcf of natural gas in 2007, most of it from the North Field (U.S. Energy Information Administration-Qatar, 2009). Based on an estimated helium concentration of 0.04 percent by volume in the North Field (Daly, 2005), 880 MMcf of helium were produced by Qatar during 2007. However, only 250 MMcf of helium are reported to have been refined over that time period (USGS, 2009), indicating that only about 30 percent of the natural gas from the field was processed for helium, which corresponds to a waste factor of 70 percent.



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