Second, the committee recommends that the BLM study the adequacy of the Bush Dome reservoir as the reserves are depleted. Specific study tasks that should be considered include the following:
Determine the optimal size of a federal stockpile of crude helium.
Develop models of gas extraction at the Bush Dome reservoir to predict the helium content of future extracted gas.
Determine whether the quantity of gas that remains in the Bush Dome reservoir will be adequate to meet future federal needs in the event of a temporary drop in private production.
Reassess the pricing structure for the storage of helium at the Cliffside facility so that it more accurately reflects the value of the facility.
Finally, the committee recommends that the Department of the Interior conduct research and development to ensure the continued supply of helium into the future. Goals should include (1) new geological models and exploration technologies, (2) improved helium storage systems, and (3) enhanced technologies to conserve, recycle, and eventually replace helium. The following specific tasks should be considered:
Determine the geological characteristics and processes that permit the formation of helium-rich gas fields and develop methodologies and databases to assist in the discovery of these fields.
Identify potential sites for natural storage facilities to permit the establishment of new facilities near future major helium producers and to allow an increase in the storage and conservation capabilities of helium users.
Develop economic models for the extraction and storage of joint-product, nonrenewable resources the production of one of which is dominated by supply and demand for the other.
Incrementally improve the efficiency of technologies that currently depend on helium and develop alternative technologies that do not require helium