Ross asked me to post a brief intro on helium, which can be another by-product of natural gas processing.
Most natural gas deposits do not contain a high enough concentration of helium to make helium extraction economically viable, but where there is a sufficient % of helium entrained in the natural gas, helium recovery can be quite profitable.
At the present time, crude helium is extracted from seven plants that process natural gas from the Hugoton & Panhandle Fields in the US mid-continent area, plus a few more plants that extract the crude helium and then purify/liquefy it to produce liquid helium at -452 degrees F. That is the coldest substance on the planet.
Exxon operates the world's largest helium plant in Shute Creek, WY. My company, Matheson Gas, is building a new liquid helium plant in a JV with Air Products that will purchase crude helium from a new Denbury Resources gas processing plant that will be located up on Riley Ridge.
Helium is also produced from plants located in Algeria (2), Poland, Qatar, Australia & Russia.
In Algeria, Qatar & Darwin, Australia, helium is produced as a by-product of LNG production. With LNG production, it can be economically viable to produce helium when the raw gas has helium concentrations as low as .05%.
U.S production from nitrogen rejection units typical processes gas with .3% helium content or higher.
Unfortunately, you can not recover helium from shale gas. Helium is used as a leak detector and the shale rock is too porous to contain helium.
There is a global shortage of helium right now and it can provide a fairly lucrative sweetener to gas processing economics.
But keep in mind that most natural gas deposits do not contain enough helium to make recovery worthwhile.
To tie this to current events, Linn Energy's buyout of BP America's properties in Kansas includes the Jayhawk Natural Gas Processing Plant in Ulysses, KS, which extracts helium for resale to Praxair. So now Linn Energy will be in the helium business.
Kinder Morgan's recent acquisition of the St. John CO2 field from EOR, includes potentialo helium extraction because that gas has .6% helium in it.
That's enough of an intro for now.
If anyone comes across a sizable gas play that contains at least 0.2% helium, please let me know.