The UK project
To test the viability of the helium prospect already identified by surface samples, three to five shallow wells need to be drilled each to a depth of approximately 200 metres. No fracking is involved.
Existing wells in the area show that sub-surface pressures at the target depths are very low (less than 150 psi), so well management is simple. Drilling can be completed in a few hours with coiled tubing deployed from a lightweight tractor, as routinely used for the drilling of water wells.
The environmental footprint of the operation is extremely small involving a very small site, environmentally safe chemicals and minimal noise. As a result, the social acceptability of helium exploration is considered extremely high.
The economics for small scale helium liquefaction are well established. The equipment used is small and the associated vehicle movements and noise are minimal. Buyers already exist for both the helium and any associated methane that would be produced.
The next steps
HRL has the technical capacity to operate a helium exploration programme in the UK and has successfully completed initial reservoir, source and geochemical studies. Helium exploration is clean, socially acceptable and has a small environmental footprint
Providing a UK sources of helium is becoming of national strategic importance
Helium Resources Limited (HRL) now needs a licence to drill, granted by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). In 2016 and again in 2018 HRL applied to the OGA for a licence and held meetings to explain the case and its significance. OGA sought guidance from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), however, whilst helium underpins much of the innovation and technologies promoted by BEIS in the 2017 UK Industrial Strategy; especially clean energy and world leading research capability; and despite all the evidence to the contrary BEIS has indicated they "do not see a pressing need for a domestic source of helium"
In the national interest HRL believe that the significant and growing concerns of helium users in the UK need to be recognised and action taken by the BEIS to urgently allow helium exploration