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For sale: the entire federal helium system

by Craig Bettenhausen
August 28, 2022 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 100, Issue 30


A large pipe with arrows pointing up leads into a vertical column labeled as compression equipment.
Credit: US General Services Administration
The Cliffside helium facilities include processing and distribution equipment and a geologic gas storage reservoir.

The US General Services Administration is putting the federal helium system up for sale. The listing is on the GSA website’s real estate section at, though the agency is not yet accepting bids. On offer is effectively all of the US government’s assets connected to the Cliffside facility, near Amarillo, Texas. They include helium enrichment, purification, storage, and transportation equipment; 724 km of helium pipelines across Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas; 23 natural gas wells; 10 buildings; and the Bush Dome helium storage reservoir. Bush Dome, the centerpiece of the facility, is a 4,000-hectare porous rock formation, primarily dolomite, sitting beneath two layers of nonporous calcium anhydrite that act as a cap. The sale is also likely to include 65 million m3 of federally owned crude helium. The sale is the last major step in the privatization of the US helium system, a congressionally mandated move that many users blame for volatility in the helium market over the past decade.


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