“Green Helium” is helium produced from gas that contains little, if any, hydrocarbons and where the production of helium does not result in the emission of greenhouse gases. At present, more than 95% of the world’s helium is produced as a by-product of the processing of hydrocarbon-bearing gas at either natural gas processing facilities or liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants. At these plants, helium, which is inert, is part of the waste stream that consists mostly of nitrogen and helium.
Until now, helium has never been explored for independently, it was simply found by accident in very few hydrocarbon bearing gas fields. Therefore, for the last 100 years, supply has been limited to natural gas fields where a very limited number of those (LNG) fields have contained small volumes of helium (0.3 to 0.5%), which is then separated as a profitable by-product.
New age helium focused explorers, such as Noble Helium, are discovering large potential volumes of helium in non-carbon environments in substantially higher ratios of between 3% to 12%. This is going to lead to an increasing share of helium being sourced from non-carbon prospects.
In these helium exploration projects, nitrogen is the dominant carrier gas, which can be vented to the atmosphere with zero CO2 emissions. Since nitrogen is the primary component of the atmosphere and is not a greenhouse gas, helium produced from nitrogen carrier gas is termed “Green Helium.” There is also activity related to producing helium from gas where hydrogen is the major component of the gas and there are no hydrocarbons, and this would also be considered Green Helium.
This will mean a significant reduction in reliance on hydrocarbon resources for helium supply, that, in the longer term may be reduced or even banned which would close out helium supply. Key benefits are reduced reliance on hydrocarbon gas fields and helping to contribute to the global imperative of a carbon free planet by 2050.