North American Helium now has seven helium purification facilities like this one. By the end of the year, that number is expected to be nine. North American Helium

Company has shipped its 100th ISO container of helium

CALGARY – North American Helium Inc. (NAH) on March 19 announced several updates supporting the continued growth of its business, including plans to add two additional helium purification facilities in Saskatchewan.

That will bring the company’s total to nine helium processing facilities. In 2020, they started with just one production facility.

Nicholas Snyder, chairman and CEO said in a release, “We are excited to continue increasing our production of reliable and sustainable helium supply in North America. While the most recent global shortage has eased in recent months, the world continues to grapple with major risks to other global sources of helium. Issues with shipping from the Middle East as well as sanctions and trade restrictions impacting potential supply from Russia highlight the importance of non-hydrocarbon helium sources produced in a safe jurisdiction.”

Snyder continued, “Earlier this month, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) accepted a bid for the remaining assets of the diminishing federal helium reserve. This marks the end of an era, as the US Government’s involvement in the helium business over the last three decades has contributed to keeping prices low, providing additional supply from storage during shortages, and dampening volatility across the supply chain.

“Going forward, we see an increased emphasis on security of supply from stakeholders across the value chain. I am proud of our team’s ongoing work to increase our production, increase the reliability of our logistics, and support our customers as they navigate an increasingly uncertain world. Substantial planned investments in the semiconductor industry are projected to drive a significant increase in the rate of growth of helium demand and our Company stands ready to invest in our business to ensure we can meet the needs of our growing customer base.”

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Two more helium facilities under construction

NAH is currently constructing two new helium purification facilities in southwest Saskatchewan, bringing the total number of helium facilities it operates to nine. One facility will be an expansion of the Cadillac plant constructed during 2023, and is the result of additional exploration success in the area near Ponteix, Saskatchewan. This new facility is being constructed on an existing plant site and further demonstrates NAH’s commitment to minimizing its environmental footprint, the company said. The new facility is expected to be brought onstream during Q2 2024 and will increase total production from the Cadillac area by approximately 33 per cent.

Notably, for decades before the current era of helium exploration and production, one helium facility near Swift Current kept chugging along, producing helium long-term.

Now, second helium purification facility in this batch is being constructed at Antelope Lake, a new operating region for the company, which is approximately 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Swift Current. This facility is expected to have initial production capability of approximately 50 MMcf/yr of purified helium and will be brought onstream during Q3 2024. Analysis of wells drilled by the company in this area of the province have yielded some of the highest helium concentrations that NAH has encountered to date. These results suggest the potential for even better economics in future development projects as exploration of the basin continues.

Commenting on the new discovery at Antelope Lake, Marlon McDougall, president & COO stated, “Antelope Lake is an exciting new play type for the company and has helium concentrations significantly higher than any other helium production currently onstream at our existing seven production facilities throughout southwest Saskatchewan. This continues to be an exciting time in NAH’s development, with technical learning and data science serving as the foundation of our path forward.”

McDougall added, “Once these new facilities are brought online, we expect total production capability of the company to be approximately 210 MMcf/yr, representing approximately 7 per cent of total North American helium supply.”

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Data-driven approach

NAH said it “continues to maintain the largest drilling program focused on non-hydrocarbon helium deposits in the industry. Two recent discoveries from NAH’s exploration drilling program are expected to contribute to growth leading into 2025 and beyond.”

“NAH continues to place substantial long-term investment into its industry leading seismic database as it explores its vast land position. This subsurface data collection and analysis is a vital tool which advances the organization’s understanding of where nitrogen-based helium accumulations exist deep under the earth’s surface, and sets the stage for future exploration success. Over the past 12-24 months this strategy has led to the discovery of multiple new play types, including several with evidence of higher helium concentrations relative to previously discovered fields.”

The Company is focused on executing its exploration strategy and expanding into new geographic regions across its large land base. With nine million acres of land covering a resource that is still in the early stages of exploration and exploitation, the company said it is excited to continue capitalizing on a multi-decade opportunity in its core area of southwest Saskatchewan.

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100th ISO container of helium shipped

In January 2024, NAH achieved a significant milestone in its marketing and logistics business with the shipment of its 100th ISO container of liquid helium to customers worldwide. “We thank all our customers for their support in achieving this milestone and will remain steadfast in our commitment to serve as a reliable partner and source for geopolitically secure supply of helium in the future,” the company said.

NAH also confirms it has now received all six of its state-of-the-art Gardner 175-40 ISO containers for the transport of liquid helium. Several of the Company’s ISO containers are already in use, with customers shipping liquid helium within the United States, Asia, and European markets.

While the majority of the company’s purified helium production is sold on long-term contracts, NAH said it continues to retain a portion of helium volumes for availability in the spot market as either high-purity gas or liquid.

NAH expands credit facility to $150 million

NAH recently closed an updated borrowing agreement with its syndicate of lending partners. Borrowing capacity under the new agreement now totals $150 million, up from $100 million previously, and was facilitated by the addition of two new syndicate members including Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Fédération des caisses Desjardins du Québec (Desjardins). Going forward, the company’s lending syndicate now includes five of Canada’s leading financial institutions. National Bank of Canada (NBC) continues to act as Lead Arranger and Agent of the syndicate, along with ATB Financial (ATB), Export Development Canada (EDC), RBC and Desjardins.

Regarding the new lending agreement, Brad Borggard, CFO stated, “We welcome RBC and Desjardins to the syndicate and appreciate their support of our business. The expanded capacity of our credit facility reflects the company’s success to date and provides ample financial capacity to fund ongoing growth initiatives.”

 

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