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Grand County — Texas-based IACX Energy has commenced helium production and sales from a new facility located at Harley Dome, Utah, approximately 40 miles west of Grand Junction, Colo. This facility is the first helium-only application to extract the rare gas from federal lands and is IACX's third helium plant.
The Harley Dome field was discovered in 1925 and was designated "Federal Helium Reserve No. 2" by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1934. The field's unusual gas composition (7 percent helium with the balance being mostly nitrogen) and its low reservoir pressure proved to be a barrier to prior attempts to develop the field. IACX's small scale, low pressure helium extraction technology has allowed for this helium deposit to be finally produced, some 90 years after its initial discovery.
For almost 100 years, the United States has been the world's largest producer of helium, but conventional, domestic supplies are declining and other international sources (Algeria, Qatar and Russia) are on the rise. Helium has strategic uses in many high tech applications such as MRI machines, semi-conductor manufacturing, the NASA space program, fiber optic cables, etc.