Canada’s largest helium purification plant coming to Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is a year away from becoming home to Canada’s largest helium purification facility.

North American Helium, the most active helium driller in Saskatchewan, announced on May 28 they will be constructing a new helium purification plant in the Battle Creek field situated in the Southwest corner of the province.

The Calgary-based private helium exploration and production company recently announced they raised approximately $39 million through a common share equity financing in order to fund the purification plant, to fund an active drilling program, along with general corporate purposes. The funding comes on the heels of a previously secured $24 million of funding back in February.

“This successful financing allows us to advance the Company toward significant long-term sustainable helium production and cash flow,” Nicholas Snyder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of North American Helium stated in a press release. “We are in the process of securing multi-year off-take agreements with companies looking for reliable long-term helium supply in North America. This is an exciting time in our history as this facility marks our second successful commercialization of a new helium field in Canada. The first is the previously announced single-well processing (SWP) unit at our Cypress field in Saskatchewan, which is expected to come online in July of this year. This new facility at Battle Creek represents a step change for NAH, as we transition towards self-sustaining growth for both our organization and the helium industry in Western Canada.”

North American Helium has ordered the purification plant from Air Liquide Advanced Technologies USA LLC. They anticipate the plant equipment delivery and contraction will take 12 months, so the commissioning and start-up of the facility is scheduled for July 2021. The facility will boast a capacity of 160 mcf/d of purified helium (20MMcf/d raw gas), making it Canada’s largest helium purification system.

To date, the company has drilled 15 helium well in Saskatchewan, and during 2020 they anticipate drilling of up to 10 additional wells along with other exploration and development work.

“We are fortunate to be operating in a jurisdiction with a supportive regulatory structure, favorable geology for helium production and a skilled workforce,” Snyder stated in a Government of Saskatchewan press release. “The government has shown a commitment to the development of this industry in Saskatchewan, which will contribute new production needed to replace depleting natural-gas-linked helium sources in North America. Our Battle Creek project demonstrates that reliable long-term production of helium can be created from non-hydrocarbon sources, which means a smaller environmental footprint while still benefiting from the expertise developed in Saskatchewan’s oil service industry.”

Helium boasts a series of important uses, including medical research and diagnostic testing, digital technologies, semiconductors, fibre optics, nuclear power facilities, rocket systems, welding, and other uses.

The provincial government has completed their regulatory approvals which has cleared the way for the anticipated construction start date in October.

“Helium production in Saskatchewan is set to take off,” explained Energy and Resources Minister Bronwyn Eyre. “The building of this purification facility by North American Helium will enable the province to scale helium production and important export capacity,”

“This project will bring new jobs and economic growth to the southwest region, a part of Saskatchewan that prides itself on resource development and economic growth,” Cypress Hills MLA and Legislative Secretary for Energy and Resources Doug Steele said. “The construction of this plant in the Battle Creek area signals the world-class investment climate Saskatchewan offers and we acknowledge North American Helium for their significant work in the region.”

The Saskatchewan Geological Survey continues to analyze around 88,000 oil and gas wells across the southern half of the province to determine how many have a helium occurrence of greater than one per cent, which is a good indicator of viability.