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Project Title:

The Impact of Selling the U.S. Federal Helium Reserve
PIN: BPAX-L-07-04-A        

Major Unit:

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Sub Unit: Board on Physics & Astronomy DEPS
DEPS National Materials Advisory Board

RSO: Lancaster, James

Subject/Focus Area:

Project Scope
The study will determine whether selling off the U.S. Helium Reserve in the manner prescribed in the legislation has had any adverse effect on U.S. scientific, technical, biomedical, and national security users of helium. To provide a meaningful context for this effort, the study will examine the helium market and the helium industry supply chain.

The study committee will address the following tasks:

- Review the report "The Impact of Selling the Federal Helium Reserve" (NAP, 2000) and compare projected expectations with actual outcome. Determine the reasons for the differences.

- Examine the availability and reliability of worldwide supply, technical opportunities to increase that supply such as through improved recovery, and the relationships among supply, demand, and market price.

- Assess the current and projected U.S. marketplace for refined helium, including worldwide helium demand by industrial and other users. Assess the role of private industry in future conservation efforts.

- Assess the current "flywheel" concept for operating the Reserve. Develop scenarios for how the Reserve might be used to meet future helium demand.

- Assess the role that organizational and financial factors play in meeting the goals of the Federal Helium Program. Identify measures that would enable the Program to respond more effectively to the dynamics of the helium industry.

This project is sponsored by the Department of the Interior. The approximate start date for the project is December 31, 2007. One report is expected to be issued at the conclusion of the study in approximately 18 months.

Update 11/10/09: The project duration has been extended. The report is expected to be issued by December 31, 2009.

Project Duration: 18 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 06/24/2008
 Meeting 2 - 08/21/2008
 Meeting 3 - 11/03/2008
 Meeting 4 - 01/28/2009


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Selling the Nation's Helium Reserve