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Desert Mountain commences helium production in New Mexico

The plant in the West Pecos Field is currently separating helium from the natural gas stream and transferring it to an offtake trailer.

Desert Mountain Energy Corp. has commenced operations at its helium processing plant on the West Pecos Field in New Mexico.

The plant is currently separating helium from the natural gas stream and transferring it to an offtake trailer. The startup procedure will involve optimization and potential programming improvements, with an estimated duration of 60-90 days.

The company is producing from specific wells and will add flow rates to the plant during the next 120-180 days.

The gaseous mixture of the individual wells varies from well to well. This includes Helium, N-Pentane, N-Butanes, Hexanes, and condensate oils, besides the normal methane and associated mixtures.

The plant had additional equipment added to account for these variations and the company wants to ensure that the sensing equipment operates in the prescribed manner with varied flow rates and mixtures. Additional equipment and storage/recycle capabilities were added to remove the possibility of needless atmospheric release of any helium. The plant system permits DME to capture, recycle and enrich the overall final grade of helium from the plant to maximize return on investment and be good stewards of these resources.

The plant was initiated at approximately 960MCFGPD and will gradually increase to the maximum capacity within the current plant redesigns. The initial truckloads will contain a mix of various helium grades, and DME will receive payment accordingly. DME continues to aim to achieve a final product of 99.9995% pure helium following the completion of the initiation process, with the intention of selling to targeted markets to optimize pricing.

The West Pecos Field acquisition closed on July 1, 2023. The purchase included a natural gas offtake contract (which expired May 31, 2024), covering 188 producing gas wells and gas collection system. Over the last 12 months, DME repaired roads, bush hogged around well heads and accompanied surface equipment, did minor work on 15 wells, replaced lines identified as probable to fail within 5 years and pigged the collection system. The company is currently implementing in-line compression equipment that was purchased earlier to reduce line pressure and boost production from wells with higher helium content at choke points in the gathering system. Initially designed to extract helium from a nitrogen field using solar energy, the plant required significant modifications to switch the power source to natural gas from our field.

The commencement of plant operations enables the company to pivot towards increasing production levels. Geological assessments have pinpointed zones with higher-grade helium in wells, with an emphasis on reducing any formation water produced, which will be integrated into the existing inventory. A team has been assembled to operate the company’s workover rig, targeting wells with elevated helium levels to enhance production from current sources.

The company continues its efforts with Beam Earth Ltd. and other related companies for the production of both hydrogen and helium from its Arizona locations.

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