North American Helium, a Calgary-based private helium exploration and production company, said it has brought oil and gas producer Marlon McDougall on board as its president and COO.

McDougall is a 30-year veteran of oil and gas industry operations, having recently served as COO of Grizzly Resources (private) and as COO of PennGrowth Energy (stock ticker: PGHEF, $PGHEF).

Former E&P COO Crosses over from Hydrocarbons to Helium

Former E&P COO Crosses over from Hydrocarbons to Helium – Source: North American Helium

North American Helium said McDougall will provide leadership to the company’s expanding operations, including a substantial increase in drilling activity in 2019 as well as construction of the company’s first production facility, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

McDougall ran two 50,000+ BOEPD oil & gas producers in Western Canada, where he was responsible for hundreds of employees and capital projects up to $700 million, the company said.

Nicholas Snyder, chairman and CEO of North American Helium said, “Marlon has significant leadership experience overseeing complex oil and gas drilling and facilities construction operations…and a track record of leading projects that come in on time and on budget.”

Snyder said North American Helium is preparing for the construction of its first production plant while continuing to manage growing exploration and development programs in multiple jurisdictions.

Helium’s current global supply shortage, and North American Helium’s 1,000,000 acres

Medical imaging, semiconductor manufacturing, space exploration and national defense rely on helium. North American Helium believes it can fill the supply void through its land position established in southwestern Saskatchewan and its exploration program. Based in Calgary, North American Helium, a helium exploration and production company has acquired rights to explore for and produce helium on over 1,000,000 acres, primarily in Saskatchewan.

Helium primer – from Wikipedia

All commercial production of helium comes from natural gas. There are two basic types of commercial helium deposits: natural gas produced primarily for the hydrocarbon content, typically containing less than 3 percent helium; and gas with little or no hydrocarbons, produced solely for the helium, which typically makes up between 5 and 10 percent of the gas. Although natural gas in which helium is only a byproduct contains a much lower percentage of helium, historically it has supplied the most helium.

Most geologists believe that the majority of helium in natural gas derives from radioactive decay of uranium and thorium, either from radioactive black shales, or granitoid basement rock. Granite and related rocks tend to contain more uranium and thorium than other rock types. However, some believe that the helium is largely primordial.

Unusual geological conditions are considered necessary for commercial concentrations of helium in natural gas. Helium accumulations are commonly in structural closures overlying bedrock highs. Faults, fractures, and igneous intrusives are regarded by some geologists as important pathways for helium to migrate upward into the sedimentary section. The atomic radius of helium is so small that shale, which is effective in trapping methane, allows the helium to migrate upward through the shale pores. Nonporous caprock such as halite (rock salt) or anhydrite is more effective in trapping helium. Helium deposits occur mostly in Paleozoic rocks.

High helium content of natural gas is accompanied by high contents of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The percentage of nitrogen is usually 10 to 20 times that of helium, so that natural gas with 5 percent or more helium may have little or no methane. A representative sample from the Pinta Dome in Apache County, Arizona, for instance, has 8.3 percent helium, 89.9 percent nitrogen, 1 percent carbon dioxide, and only 0.1 percent methane. In such cases, the gas is produced solely for its helium content.[13]

In the early 20th century, the highest production and largest known reserves of helium were in the gases produced for their hydrocarbon content. The most important of these were the Hugoton, Panhandle, Greenwood, and Keyes fields, all located in western Kansas, and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas. The Hugoton and Panhandle fields are particularly large, covering thousands of square miles. The helium content of the gas varies greatly within some fields. In the Panhandle field, helium content is highest, up to 1.3 percent or more, along the updip southwest edge, and lowest, 0.1 percent along the northeast edge.[14]

By 2003, the natural gas fields of the Great Plains of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, still held important reserves, but out of 100 BCF of total measured helium reserves in the US, 61 BCF was contained in the Riley Ridge field of western Wyoming, a gas deposit produced for its carbon dioxide content.[15]

The Four Corners area of the southwest US has a number of gas fields containing 5 to 10 percent helium and large percentages of nitrogen, with little or no hydrocarbons. The fields are associated with igneous intrusions. One field, Dineh-bi-Keyah in Arizona, produced oil from a fractured sill. The other fields have no associated oil.

Helium-rich gas fields in the United States

State Field Formation Age Percent Helium
Arizona Dineh-bi-Keyah McKracken Sandstone Pennsylvanian, Devonian 4.8 to 5.6[16]
Arizona Pinta Dome Coconino Sandstone Permian 5.6 to 9.8
Colorado Model Dome Lyons Sandstone Permian 6.7 to 8.3
Kansas Greenwood Topeka Limestone, Kansas City Group Pennsylvanian 0.4 to 0.7
Kansas Otis-Albert Reagan Sandstone Cambrian 1.2 to 2.3
Kansas Ryersee Chase Group Permian 1.4[17]
Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Hugoton various Permian 0.3 to 1.9
New Mexico Hogback Hermosa Formation Pennsylvanian 1.4 to 8.0
New Mexico Rattlesnake Leadville Limestone, Ouray Limestone Mississippian, Devonian 7.5 to 8.0
Oklahoma Keyes Morrow (Keyes) Sandstone Pennsylvanian 0.3 to 2.7
Texas Cliffside various Permian 1.7 to 1.8
Texas Panhandle various Permian 0.1 to 2.2
Texas Petrolia Cisco Sandstone Pennsylvanian 0.65 to 1.14
Utah Harley Dome Entrada Sandstone Jurassic 7[18]
Wyoming Riley Ridge Madison Limestone Mississippian
If not otherwise cited, source is:[19]


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