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Pinta Dome field in northeastern Arizona

Helium exploration and exploitation in the Holbrook Basin, Arizona

On Tues, 3 May, Kurt Constenius and Andrew Payton presented "Helium exploration and exploitation in the Holbrook Basin, Arizona" via ZOOM to the Arizona Geological Society and guests. The 50-minute long presentation and 20-minute Q&A period is available for viewing at:

Talk intro slide

Kurt and Andrew's talk abstract.
ABSTRACT:  "Helium is a strategic commodity which has important medical, industrial and research applications.   Historically, the United States has been the world’s leading producer of helium and some of the richest and highest concentrations of this gas (8-10%) are found in the Holbrook basin of Arizona.  First commercial production of helium in the Holbrook basin by Kerr-McGee Corporation took place in 1961 at Pinta Dome Field.

In this talk we’ll review:  i) the history of helium discovery, the Kipling Petroleum Macie 1-72 well drilled in 1950,  aspects of early production (1961-1974) at the Pinta Dome and Navajo Springs helium fields, and describe how we used legacy production and drilling records combined with an understanding of governmental actions to cause renewed investment in drilling and production (2013-present);

ii) the methodology of geologic sampling and interpretation as it relates to coordination with drilling so as to optimize formation evaluation and flow-testing of productive formations during air-drilling operations;

iii) describe the stratigraphy of the Triassic Shinarump Formation as it relates to permitting and drilling strategies, reservoir heterogeneity, and the effects of sandstone diagenesis that can lead to the use of acid-matrix stimulation to enhance permeability; and

iv) conclude with some thoughts on the avenues of helium-gas migration, the potential importance of groundwater on the transport and trapping of helium, and the relationship of the Hopi Buttes volcanic field to helium production.

Posted 6 May 2022 (MC)