Bureau of Land Management Disposing Of Remaining Helium Supply

The Bureau of Land Management announced today the process and timeline for disposing of remaining helium and helium assets, meeting the requirements of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013. In accordance with that law, the BLM will no longer manage the Federal Helium System after September 30, 2021. Any excess helium and helium assets remaining on that date will be transferred to the General Services Administration, which will follow its disposal process. Federal In-Kind users will continue to have access to helium until September 30, 2022, while the GSA completes their disposal process. This will allow the BLM to continue operations until around 2023, as all privately owned helium is produced from the field. “For more than a century, the U.S. Government has played a vital role in meeting helium needs for the country, especially for Federal agencies that depend on helium for scientific research, aerospace projects, and defense purposes,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “Now it is time for the U.S. government to remove itself from the helium business, and allow the private sector to further develop this industry to meet the supply needs of the United States, creating a sustainable economic model and jobs for Americans.” The Federal Helium Reserve, located near Amarillo, is currently the only helium storage facility in the world. The Reserve has sold crude helium to private companies and indirectly supplied helium to Federal users since 1996, and provided refined helium beginning in the 1960s. Through auctions, BLM’s Federal Helium Program has returned nearly $2 billion to the U.S. Treasury from the sale and auction of crude helium since Fiscal Year 2005. The Program is entirely revenue funded, operating via a revolving fund, so no taxpayer money is used in its operations. Helium is used in MRI machines, specialized welding, low-temperature research, in missiles, rockets, and observation balloons. Currently, the Reserve indirectly provides helium to Federal users through the In-Kind program. Federal users, including the Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security, receive priority for helium from the Reserve in times of shortage. Allowing the GSA additional time after the Sept. 30, 2021 to dispose of helium and helium assets will allow Federal In-Kind users the ability to continue to receive helium through the In-Kind program for an additional year while GSA completes their disposal process. At that time, Federal In-Kind users will seek new sources on the open market to meet their helium requirements.

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