Helium plant to auction off resource - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Helium plant to auction off resource

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Amarillo, TX - Thanks to legislation signed by President Obama, the Bureau of Land Management Helium plant in Amarillo will remain in business as it prepares to auction off helium to companies around the world.

Amarillo has been known as the helium capital of the world, with what used to be several helium plants scattered throughout the panhandle.

With the many closures of helium plants in the area, one still remains.

It's fate depended on the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, signed by President Obama.

According to Robert Jolley, Field Manager, the Cliffside Plant was scheduled to close in October of 2013.

Jolley said President Obama's signed Act gave the company 7 more years of life.

He said this legislation allowed more than 50 employees to keep their jobs as the company continues to sell helium within the next 7 years.

Currently, the Amarillo plant harbors one-fifth of the worlds supply of helium.

So what happens with the 7 years are up?

According to Sam Burton, the Assistant Field Manger,  it would be offered for sale.

The government would be moving all the assets and selling all the real property holdings, which would go to some private entities.

Although the plant will eventually close, the act has made this transition revenue positive for the company. 

Burton said the company will hold an auction, which will open up helium in the reservoir for sale. 

Beginning in the fiscal year of 2015, 10 percent of helium still available will be sold, which will take place within the next month or so.

The auction is available to all eligible bidders in the helium industry from all parts of the world.

It will also be held right here in Amarillo.

By 2021 the company will have sold all of its helium, yet it will remain stored in Amarillo.