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Helium Action Plan: From Exploration to Exports

Released in November 2021, the Helium Action Plan: From Exploration to Exports (HAP) is the Government of Saskatchewan’s integrated approach to helium sector development, which aims to improve competitiveness and increase investment outcomes across the entire helium value chain. HAP features 10 new policy and program commitments in five key areas: Exploration, Production, Innovation, Processing, and Export Infrastructure. *

The global demand for helium is on the rise, with the market expected to double by 2030. Saskatchewan has some of the best geology in the world for low-emission helium production. It is also among the cleanest and most sustainable in the world. Unlike competing jurisdictions such as Russia and Qatar, it is not produced in association with natural gas.

HAP delivers on the commitment made in the Government of Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan: The Next Decade of Growth 2020-2030 to support the development of the province’s helium industry. HAP will also contribute to the province’s 2030 goals of creating 100,000 new jobs, increasing the value of exports by 50 per cent, and further diversifying the economy.

HAP is being released to position Saskatchewan as a world leader in helium production and supply over the next decade. Through HAP and its commitments, the Government of Saskatchewan has a vision of securing 10 per cent global market share in the helium sector, by 2030. HAP is the Government of Saskatchewan’s roadmap to supporting competitiveness across the entire helium sector value chain, and it focuses on helping Saskatchewan’s helium industry take the next steps towards growth.

Helium Action Plan

*In addition to the 10 new deliverables, the Oil and Gas Processing Investment Incentive (OGPII) currently provides eligible value-added helium processing projects with transferrable oil and gas royalty credits worth 15 per cent of eligible costs, up to $75 million per project.

HAP Complementary Programs and Policies

  1. Comprehensive Provincial Resource Reserve Study (Exploration): The Government of Saskatchewan will collaborate with industry to execute a comprehensive study of Saskatchewan’s helium resources and reserves. This study will seek to build on the Government of Saskatchewan’s existing geological research and quantify the province’s helium resources, to provide end-users with high-quality, reliable information.
  2. Leveraging Oil and Gas Sector Data (Exploration): The Government of Saskatchewan will update the province’s Integrated Resources Information System (IRIS) to digitize and streamline helium gas analysis reporting from all wells in the oil, gas, and helium sectors.
  3. Exploratory Well Drilling (Exploration): The Government of Saskatchewan currently offers an exploratory well drilling incentive to the oil and gas sector to explore and develop new pools and plays. This program will be expanded to support exploratory well drilling within the helium sector.
  4. Reducing Administrative Costs (Production): The Government of Saskatchewan will expand IRIS to automate helium production reporting and royalty payments administration for industry participants. The automation of production reporting will bring the helium sector in alignment with existing automated royalty payment systems already in place for other resource sectors.
  5. Enhanced Geoscience Information (Production): The Government of Saskatchewan will review and enhance the recognition of eligible exploration costs for helium tenure work expenditure requirements. Establishing targeted, high-quality geoscience data is critical to drilling success and a growth-orientated tenure work expenditure regime encourages new drilling investments.
  6. Regulatory Excellence (Production): The Government of Saskatchewan will conduct targeted reviews in priority areas, as indicated by industry, such as well spacing requirements and confidentiality provisions, to ensure that best practices are in place that encourage new drilling investment and maximize resource recovery.
  7. Driving Innovation Investment (Innovation): The Government of Saskatchewan will expand the Saskatchewan Petroleum Innovation Incentive (SPII) program to include eligible innovations within the helium sector. SPII will provide eligible helium projects with transferrable oil and gas royalty credits worth 25% of eligible costs, up to $5 million per project.
  8. Prioritizing Unique to Saskatchewan Innovations (Innovation): The Government of Saskatchewan will establish a Helium Innovation Commercialization Working Group that consists of both industry stakeholders and government agencies. The working group will focus on the pilot deployment of new technologies that are critical to the unique features and opportunities in Saskatchewan’s helium sector, including different scales of helium purification and liquefaction equipment, the economic development of small pool single well production sites, enhanced GHG emissions management practices, and specialized helium transportation equipment.
  9. Single Well Processing (Processing): Saskatchewan’s geology offers a considerable number of smaller helium pools capable of sustaining single dedicated helium production wells. These single-well production site require specialized onsite purification equipment to be economically viable. The Government of Saskatchewan will review the helium royalty regime to ensure that the unique investment competitiveness conditions of single well production sites are fully accounted for when calculating royalty rates.
  10. Advancing Liquefaction Hubs (Export Infrastructure): The Government of Saskatchewan will be establishing a coalition of municipal, provincial, and federal agencies working in collaboration with both helium companies and investors with the goal of building helium liquefaction capacity in Saskatchewan. This process will involve the assessment of potential siting locations and the strategic advantages of large-scale helium storage in underground caverns.

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