Industrial production of helium is carried out from natural and petroleum gases, both nitrogen and hydrocarbon compositions. According to the concentration of the substance, helium deposits are subdivided into:
– rich (with a gas content exceeding 0.5% by volume);
– privates (with a substance fraction of 0.1 – 0.5%);
– poor (with helium content less than 0.1%).
The richest reserves of natural helium are found in the United States (Texas, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas) and Canada.
The total world gas reserves are estimated at about 45 billion cubic meters. The largest explored deposits are located in the USA, Russia, Algeria, Canada, China. Leadership in the production of helium belongs to the United States, which annually produce up to 150 million cubic meters of helium, and Algeria (about 16 million).
Russia, the world leader in natural gas production, ranks third (about 6 million cubic meters). The only enterprise in the country producing the substance is the helium plant in Orenburg. Recently, a decrease in the volume of raw materials production is planned at the plant. Therefore, the explored deposits of helium with a high concentration of gas in the east of Russia are of particular importance for the entire country. The most promising is the Kovykta gas condensate field (Irkutsk region), the reserves of which are estimated at about 25% of the world’s total.