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Helium Concentrations in United States Wells:

Sean T. Brennan1, Joseph A. East1, Kristin O. Dennen1, Hossein Jahediesfanjani2, Brian Varela3 

1U.S. Geological Survey, 12201 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston, VA 20192; 2Lynxnet, 13873 Park Center Rd., Suite 400N, Herndon, VA 20171; 3U.S. Geological Survey, Kipling St & 6th Street, Denver, CO 80226 


In 2013, the Helium Stewardship Act (Public Law 113–40; U.S. Congress, 2013) directed the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to create an accounting of the geological helium resources of the United States. The initial task in this endeavor has been to collect all known analyses of subsurface helium gas within the contiguous United States and Alaska.

The two main sources of data employed in this assessment process are from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). BLM data come from thousands of gas samples analyzed for the Federal Helium Program, which originally began in 1925 under the U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM). These analyses were reported in several publications (Moore and Sigler, 1987; Hamak and Gage, 1992; Hamak and Sigler, 1991, 1993; Sigler, 1994; Hamak and Driskill, 1996; Gage and Driskill, 1998, 2003, 2005; Driskill, 2008), and additional unpublished data reside in an internal BLM database. A publically available database that contains much of the data from USBM, BLM, and USGS analyses (U.S. Geological Survey, 2015).

The data include all gas analyses from the BLM and USGS databases with measured values of helium concentrations. Helium values of less than 0.005 mol% are listed as “TRACE”, and those greater than 0.005 mol% were rounded up to 0.01 mol%. We report all helium recognized in gas compositions, even though there is a limit on economically recoverable helium. A minimum helium concentration of 0.3 mole percent (mol%) is needed for the commercial separation of helium from marketable natural gas (National Research Council, 2010). However, helium concentrations as low as 0.04 can be economic if gas is chilled and purified to meet specifications as liquefied natural gas (National Research Council, 2010). It is important to note that there might be several gas samples from different wells in a given reservoir or formation, hence the concentration values reported for each well sample do not necessarily represent the concentration of helium in the entire reservoir.

The analytical data is supported with identifying information. These include the American Petroleum Institute (API) number, a unique 10 digit identifier for each well, the first two numbers indicate the state, the next three indicate the county, and the last five numbers are a unique code for that well. Each entry also contains the latitude and longitude of the well, and the names of the gas producing formation and field. The sample depth in feet and the date that the sample was collected are listed for each well. The reported date is in mm/dd/yyyy format. Wherever “00” is present in the sample date, this indicates that the sampling day and or month were not listed in the source publications. Where data are absent, or listed as “not given”, “UNK” was entered into the field to indicate that information is unknown.

Downloading the Data

You must read and agree to the following limitations of the data prior to downloading:

Disclaimer for Provisional Data

The data you have secured are provisional and subject to revision.  The data are released on the condition that neither the USGS nor the United States Government may be held liable for any damages resulting from its authorized or unauthorized use.

Distribution Liability

Although the data have been processed on the computer system at the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, no warranty, expressed or implied, is made by the Geological Survey regarding the utility of the data on any other system, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty.  No responsibility is assumed by the U.S. Geological Survey in the use of these data.

By downloading, you are aware of these limitation to data use and data quality:

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References Cited

Driskill, D.L, 2008, Analyses of natural gases, 2005–2007: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 427, p., accessed May 17, 2016.

Gage, B.D., and Driskill, D.L., 1998, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1996–1997: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 404, 71 p., accessed May 17, 2016.

Gage, B.D., and Driskill, D.L., 2003, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1998–2001: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 412, 173 p., accessed May 17, 2016.

Gage, B.D., and Driskill, D.L. , 2005, Analyses of Natural Gases, 2002–2004: Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 418, 243 p., accessed May 17, 2016.

Hamak, J.E., and Driskill, D.L., 1996, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1994–1995: U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Technical Note 399, 70 p., accessed May 17, 2016.

Hamak, J.E., and Gage, B.D., 1992, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1991: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9318, 97 p.

Hamak, J.E., and Sigler, S.M., 1991, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1986–1990: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9301, 315 p. 

Hamak, J.E., and Sigler, S.M., 1993, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1992: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9356, 62 p. 

Moore, B.J., and Sigler, S.M., 1987, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1917–1985: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9129, 1197 p. 

National Research Council. 2010, Selling the Nation's Helium Reserve: Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 156 p. 

Sigler, S.M., 1994, Analyses of Natural Gases, 1993: U.S. Bureau of Mines, Information Circular 9400, 58 p. 

U.S. Congress, 2013, Helium Stewardship Act of 2013—Public Law 110–40: U.S. Government Printing Office, 15 p., accessed May 17, 2016.

U. S. Geological Survey, 2015, Geochemistry Database: U.S. Geological Survey, Provisional Database, accessed May 17, 2016.

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