Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 01, 2011

Need Helium? Take On Iran.

The biggest single hydrocarbon consumer of the world is the U.S. military. It has thereby some self-interest to fight for access to hydrocarbon reserves. The U.S. military is now also a huge consumer of Helium. This makes these two news items, coming out a week apart, somewhat interesting.

Military Struggles to Find Helium for Spy Blimp Surge

The U.S. military is sending so many spy blimps to Afghanistan that industry is scrambling to supply helium and “cannot keep up with the increased demand” for the containers that hold the gas.
When one of those airships, the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, needed its gas, it ran into a problem. LEMV-builder Northrop Grumman “could not obtain the helium and/or the large number of bulk containers needed for its initial fill and as such, required emergency support,” according to a Defense Logistics Agency contracting document.

To meet LEMV’s “huge gaseous helium requirements” in time, DLA Energy couldn’t competitively bid out the 800,000 standard cubic feet of helium needed to fill up the “longer than a football field, taller than a seven-story building” airship.

'Iran discovers massive helium reserve'

The managing director of Iran's Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) says Iran has discovered the world's biggest helium reserve in its South Pars gas field.
The official put the volume of the world's helium reserves at 40 billion cubic meters, adding that the South Pars gas field holds 10 billion cubic meters of the total amount.

The new Helium find in Iran may give another reason for continued U.S. interest to subordinate it to its rule.

Posted by b on October 1, 2011 at 2:45 UTC | Permalink


They could use Hydrogen, but first they'd have to learn to stop playing with fire; and H requires more frequent topping-up due to a significantly higher seepage rate than He.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 1 2011 9:12 utc | 1

Or maybe the military will just take over South punishment for Iran's bad behavior, of course.

The US needs South Pars gas to feed the LNG industry, which is Washington's last, best hope of extending the life of the liberalized oil trading system, which benefits the dollar and US commodities traders, from the rise of a natural gas market based on pipelines, long term contracts, and bi-lateral buyer-seller currency deals. And the US needs South Pars to have something for its military to "protect," something pipelines moving natural gas from Central Asia to China don't seem to need.

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 1 2011 14:47 utc | 2

If it's an un-manned blimp does it matter if it contains Helium or Hydrogen? BTW, I seem to recall that the US acquired some trucks for generating Hydrogen from its old pal, Saddam Hussein. Should save a packet on defence expediture!

Posted by: blowback | Oct 1 2011 14:49 utc | 3

This is interesting. The United States government used to be the world's largest supplier of helium and maintained a big Federal Helium Reserve in Amarillo, Texas until about ten years ago. Then it seemed that it had become obsolete with no future value, so we closed the facility and sold the property.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Oct 1 2011 16:06 utc | 4

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