Helium shortage could impact consumers - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Helium shortage could impact consumers

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Amarillo, TX - A new helium recovery method is now up an running in Amarillo; this is only a short-term solution to the major helium shortage problem.

"Everyone's looking for helium wherever they can find it right now," says Samuel Burton, helium operations, Bureau of Land Management.

Helium is a non-renewable resource; the amount of this gas is at an all-time low.

"Even though there's a shortage, we're working very hard here in Amarillo, Texas to meet that need as best we can," says Samuel Burton, helium operations, Bureau of Land Management.

Airplanes, MRI equipment, medical research and most technology are all supplied by helium but keeping those items running is becoming a growing struggle.

Several methods are in the works to make sure this gas lasts longer.

There are a total of 23 wells surrounding the helium plant.

Not all of the wells are being used but the one's that are, are being used to their full capacity.

"The wells are being used to extract that helium up out of the ground and they're also a safety mechanism to make sure that the helium doesn't leak out. That helium is then enriched to 76 to 78 percent where it is then offered for sale to the private refiners," says Samuel Burton, helium operations, Bureau of Land Management.

Plant production could soon be put to a halt.

"After 2018, we see that the field will be very much depleted. We'd have to consider some other more expensive options," says Samuel Burton, helium operations, Bureau of Land Management.

At that point the federal government will decide whether they want to continue or suspend production at our local plant.

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