Things have expanded quite a bit at North American Helium’s Mankota site. The processing facility under the tent was originally built by Weil Helium. Now, under NAH, the processing at Mankota has been doubled, as the company added its sixth processing facility. North American Helium

CALGARY, MANKOTA – Saskatchewan’s leading helium producer, North American Helium Inc. (NAH), announced bringing online its sixth processing facility, and putting a second drilling rig to work to ramp up its exploration and development.

The announcement comes just a couple months after it brought its fourth and fifth processing facilities online. Combined, these are major developments for Saskatchewan’s helium industry, as North American is the first helium producer to bring new production online in years.

New facility doubles Mankota capacity

During April 2023 NAH completed construction of, and successfully brought onstream, its sixth helium purification facility near Mankota, Saskatchewan.

This is an area that had been initially developed by Weil Helium several years ago. But their wells watered out, and production at Mankota had ceased. North American picked up those idle assets, and started drilling in the area, not only on its own land, but farmed in land owned by Helium Evolution.

The new facility was constructed adjacent to NAH’s current plant at Mankota, doubling this area’s total productive capacity to over 50 million cubic feet per year.

This comes after bringing its fourth and fifth production facility online in late February. One facility is located approximately 20 kilometres southeast of Consul, Saskatchewan and the second is located approximately 15 kilometres southwest of Eastend, Saskatchewan.

When that announcement was made, NAH also indicated it was expanding its fleet of high-volume composite trailers from 15 to 25 by year-end. Owning its own ISO trailers “further expands the company’s service offering by enabling the delivery of liquid helium directly to customers who do not own or have access to ISO containers within the North American and international markets.”

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Multi-year contracts signed

NAH recently completed two new multi-year sales contracts and has successfully renegotiated several price reopeners on current contracts, at prices that better reflect the current market, the company said.

“To help customers meet critical business requirements during the current global helium shortage, NAH continues to retain uncontracted helium volumes for the spot market as either high-purity gas or liquid. Due to announced maintenance outages at major helium facilities this year, the helium supply deficit is expected to worsen in the near term and the company continues to work to ensure supply is available for critical end-users.”

Expanded drilling and development program

North American Helium announced that it has recently contracted a second drilling rig to accelerate growth in its business. The expanded 2023 drilling program is a mix of exploration and development targets across a range of established, emerging and proof-of-concept geologic targets on its vast acreage position, the company said.

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Commenting on the company’s continued operational successes, Marlon McDougall, president & COO stated, “Bringing on three new helium purification facilities in different regions of southwest Saskatchewan over the span of the last five months is an incredible achievement. Just as important, we accomplished this with zero lost time incidents in the field. Safety for our employees and contractors continues to be a top priority at NAH. The company now has six helium production facilities online, and I would like to thank our field construction and operations teams for the achievement of this milestone.”

McDougall said, “Including volumes from this latest facility, current helium production is in excess of 130 million cubic feet per year, representing approximately 5 per cent of total helium supply in North America. This does not include another plant we plan to bring online in Q4 of this year. With the addition of the second rig to our drilling program, we expect to drill approximately 30 wells this year to support additional growth in 2024.”

The company’s plans for 2023 include bringing an additional production facility online and running a continuous exploration program with two drilling rigs targeting a total of 30 wells. The company is working to rapidly grow its production to meet the increasing helium demand from semiconductor manufacturing, space exploration, and emerging applications like small modular reactors (SMR) and nuclear fusion.

 

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Flow through shares would be great, if only they applied to helium exploration, says Royal Helium CEO