Picture of the Booster Compressor at the Amarillo Cliffside Helium Plant.

Federal Helium Operations

The Storage for Government and Private helium as of October 1, 2022:

  • Government =  1,992,977 Mcf
  • Private =  2,066,257 Mcf

Helium Storage

Crude Helium Auctions & Sales

Helium Stewardship (HSA) Implementation

Documents and Reports

Division of Helium Operations

The Division of Helium Operations

The Division of Helium Operations is responsible for the varied engineering, technical, and administrative activities related to the underground crude helium storage activities for the Amarillo Field Office. The Division’s activities include complex engineering services relating to installation, operation, and maintenance of gas production and injection well surface equipment; gas gathering and helium injection pipelines; cross-country natural gas and helium transmission pipelines; and crude helium enrichment unit, and other physical plant facilities operated and maintained by the Division.  The Division of Helium Operations includes the Engineering and Technical Support Team, Gasfield and Pipeline Operations Team and Helium Enrichment Unit Team, as well as the Cliffside Gas Plant and the Satanta (Kansas) Maintenance Station.  The Cliffside Gas Plant and Satanta Maintenance Station are managed by a full-time Plant Manager.

The Engineering and Technical Support Team plans and coordinates engineering work involving subsurface maintenance of withdrawal and helium storage wells including need and method of redrilling or cleanout work, treatment of wells with chemicals, prevention of water encroachment, control of movement of stored helium, and other engineering operations related to the underground storage of helium.

The Gasfield and Pipeline Operations Team manages the 450 mile long Federal Crude Helium Pipeline System originating from Cliffside Gas Field outside of Amarillo, Texas, and terminating in Bushton, Kansas.  The pipeline is owned by the Federal Government and managed and operated by the Bureau of Land Management. The Team is responsible for the day-to-day operations of approximately 30 high-pressure gas storage and gas production wells, nearly 600 miles of gas transmission pipelines, 20 gas metering stations, compressors, buildings, grounds, roads, pipeline rights-of-way, heavy equipment, and truck maintenance.  Other operations include welding, gas measurement, and analysis, cathodic protection, carpentry, and heavy equipment operations.  On-calls and weed spraying and mechanical treatments are among the programs used to maintain access to pipeline control valves (approximately every 10 miles) and rectifier stations and measurement points needed to control corrosion.  The pipeline typically delivers 3 million cubic feet of helium per day to the private helium industry refiners on the pipeline.  Auxiliary facilities include the Satanta Maintenance Station in Satanta, Kansas, utility systems for fuel, gas, electric power, and plant and domestic water and sewage gathering and disposal.  The Team includes technical skilled and semi-skilled heavy equipment operators and craftsmen.

The Crude Helium Enrichment Unit (CHEU) Team is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the CHEU at the Cliffside Gas Plant, with its related compressors, pumps, cryogenic equipment, gas drying units, heaters, digital control systems, and other auxiliary equipment. The CHEU is owned by the Cliffside Refiners Limited Partnership, but operated by the BLM.  The Cliffside Gas Plant utilizes a unique industrial process, enriching helium from natural gas, using pressures to 1550 pounds per square inch and temperatures to 300 degrees below zero F. The plant processes up to 40 million cubic feet of gas per day, using approximately 4,000 horsepower and 3,000 electric engine driven high-pressure gas compressors, chemical treating equipment for conditioning gas for processing, and auxiliary and related equipment.  Auxiliary facilities include utility systems for fuel, gas, electric power, and plant and domestic water and sewage gathering and disposal. The CHEU Team also maintains field well head compressors on the 12,000 acre Bush Dome storage reservoir and insures gas from 23 wells is blended to correct feed composition for the CHEU.



Cliffside Plant Status

The Cliffside Gas Plant is operational.

UPDATED 11/14/2022:  The BLM would like to share the following contract opportunity - BLM Pipeline and Wellfield Operations Notice ID140L0623Q001. For general information about this opportunity, please visit SAM.gov.

UPDATED 4/25/2022:  On April 22, 2022, the BLM was informed by our contracting officer (Emmett Larson) that an operations contract has been awarded to Messer.  This operations contract will operate the Crude Helium Enrichment Unit (CHEU) using private industry operators.  This is a key milestone in the return to operating the Cliffside facility and to deliver helium safely to private industry.

Updated 3/18/2022:  The BLM local helium operations and HQ safety team received a briefing on the findings of the third-party safety contractor. New additional recommendations were discussed. Several methods for addressing/mitigating these additional recommendations are being considered. BLM Safety program will advise BLM upper management on these mitigation methods and residual risk to return to safe operations.  

Updated 3/11/2022:  The BLM has been notified that the Geosyntec report has been completed and will be forwarded for review. The BLM next plans to hold an internal briefing for the report's recommendations.

Updated 2/4/2022:  The BLM has been informed that a third-party safety review contract has been awarded to Geosyntec. This review may provide additional recommendations to considerations on any gaps to safe operations and how best to address those gaps. 

UPDATED 1/18/2022:   Over the last week several strange events occurred in the plant.  

We had an electrical failure on half the plant site. We had operators reporting droplets of liquid/misting off the TSA vent stacks (potentially NGL's which shut down the plant). 

Monday, Jan 17, we found a natural gas leak on the Booster Compressor. We are also coincidentally responding back to OSHA on their findings this summer. The BLM needs time to review these reported and observed issues to understand what the root cause may be and take corrective action for continued safe operation. The current COVID surge is also a concern for contractors coming to the work site to do repairs. The BLM is working with our partners to address the needed maintenance repairs to make plant restart possible as quickly and safely as possible. 

Projected Plant startup is late April 2022.  

UPDATED 1/3/2022: The BLM has no plans to hold a planned shut down until the first week of March.  The work that needs to be completed requires 
Mechanical Integrity (MI) testing that cannot be performed with the plant operational. Estimated time for the work is 6-7 days with 2-3 days restart. 

Three Tiered Notice

Helium Operations COVID-19 Response to Helium Industry

BLM Compressor Tie-In Update new 2/4/2020

BLM CRLP FAR Contract Update new 3/28/2018

NEW! GSA Real Property Utilization & Disposal Process - Cliffside Helium Field Data Room

Pipeline Operations

Pipeline Activity Map:  

Pipeline Pressure Trend: 

CHEU Production Trend
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Allocation Policy – 2017

New! Allocation Policy – 2022

Example Calculations