MEDICINE HAT, AB — The City of Medicine Hat is well on its way when it comes to drilling for helium.
City staff began discussing the idea last year and planned to drill up to six wells looking for the gas.
An American energy company already has its sights set on the Gas City and is looking to build a liquefaction facility.
Brad Maynes with the natural gas and petroleum resources department said two wells have already been drilled.
One is just over the border, northwest of Swift Current.
The second is located about 20 minutes north of Medicine Hat.
Maynes said the city is now looking at having five wells in total.
Exploration work is expected to start on the one closest to the city this week.
“We’re actually evaluating that well starting this week and we hope to have results in the next month in terms of how much helium may or may not be there,” he said, adding most of the drilling activity is expected to be closer to Swift Current.
City staff will drill three more wells by the summer and hope to have some information to present to council at that time.
Mayes said they expect to see some helium from the wells but will need to see if it’s enough to be economically viable to produce.
The Virginia-based energy company, Weil Group, has been in discussions around building a plant to liquefy the helium, making it easier to move and transport across the country and over seas.
The company hopes it’s up and running by 2020, once the city can show how much helium is here.
“Our professionals here in NGPR, that’s really what they’re looking for, is can we find an area where that helium has accumulated and been sealed so that when we actually drill through it, that helium is available to be produced and captured at surface,” Mayes said.
“We expect that most wells that we drill, especially at these depths, in and around the city, will encounter some amount of helium,” he added. “But it’s whether it’s economic or not for us to produce.”
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