Federal Helium System at Cliffside
13301 Brickplant Road
Amarillo, Potter County, Texas 79124
Opportunity 1 - Federally Owned Crude Helium Gas Only
- Approximately 1 Bcf of crude helium
Opportunity 2 - Federal Helium System and 800 Million Cubic Feet of Crude Helium
- 24,700 +/- sq. ft. Cliffside Gas Field Facility
- 38,314 +/- acres of gas interests
- 23 natural gas wells
- 423 miles of pipeline that distributes helium from Texas to Kansas
- 10.46 acre Kansas Satanta Maintenance Station
- 800 MMcf of crude helium
- 13,760 acres of gas storage rights for the Bush Dome (for injection)
The Federal Helium System currently supplies over 40 percent of domestic demand for helium by supplying crude helium to private helium refining companies, which in turn refine the helium and market it to consumers.
Helium is a colorless and odorless inert gas that will not burn or react with other elements. Helium is a non-renewable natural resource that is most commonly recovered from natural gas deposits. Perhaps the most familiar use of helium is the filling of party and parade balloons because it is a safe and non-flammable gas. In addition, helium is a critical component in many fields, including scientific research, medical technology, high-tech manufacturing (i.e. computer chips), space exploration, and national defense. Helium is used in MRI machines, specialized welding equipment, leak detection, fiber optics/semiconductor manufacturing, low-temperature research, missiles, and observation balloons.
Cliffside Gas Plant – the Plant consists of two parcels totaling 8.108 acres of leased land (surface only) and federally owned building improvements that house the plant equipment associated with operating the helium enrichment process.
The improvements consist of 10 primary buildings of varying uses (office, warehouse, maintenance, shop, storage, equipment, and laboratory) ranging in size from over 1,000 square feet to under 5,000 square feet; over 20 smaller support buildings; and related site improvements (utilities, fencing, lighting, roads, parking lots, etc.). The buildings are mostly portable type or permanent metal construction built in the 1960’s and early 2000’s, although the Headquarters Building is of masonry construction.
Federally Owned Plant Equipment – The Plant houses the equipment required to operate the helium enrichment process, which includes both federally owned and privately owned plant equipment that is integral to the process. The primary federally owned plant equipment consists of the booster compressor, natural gas chiller skid, metering equipment, spare parts, emergency generators, various storage tanks (fuel, air, water, NGL, etc.) and other equipment supporting the helium enrichment process.
While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for the operation and minor maintenance of the Crude Helium Enrichment Unit (CHEU), the CHEU is owned by the Cliffside Refiners Limited Partnership (CRLP). The CRLP is composed of four companies: Air Products, L.P.; Praxair, Inc.; Messer, LLC; and Kinder-Morgan. BLM has a lease agreement with CRLP for the privately owned equipment.
Mineral Rights – From 1930 to 1942, the federal government acquired through purchase and condemnation more than 38,000 acres of gas interest (subsurface ownership).
Helium Storage Reservoir - The Cliffside Field includes the Bush Dome, a natural geologic formation of porous rock approximately 3,000 feet below the surface with two layers of calcium anhydrite covering the porous rock and acting as a lid to contain gas. The surface area of the Bush Dome encompasses approximately 12,000 acres.
The federally owned helium in the storage reservoir includes both federal helium that was injected into the reservoir for storage and the native helium commingled with the existing natural gas when the United States purchased the field. In addition, there is privately owned helium presently stored in the reservoir and pipeline.
Natural Gas Wells – The property includes 23 gas producing wells that were developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. In addition to the well heads, the well equipment includes piping to the metering building and other related equipment.
Federal Helium Pipeline – The pipeline works in conjunction with privately owned refineries and BLM for the production, refinement, transmission, and storage of helium. The pipeline connects the Cliffside Field to private helium refiners spread throughout Northern Texas, the Oklahoma panhandle, and Southern Kansas. The federally owned portion of the pipeline stretches 423 miles and was installed in 1962. There are multiple privately owned spurs connected to the federally owned pipeline that serve private refineries. Both crude plants and refineries are connected to the pipeline. Crude plants (also called captured plants) only inject into the pipeline for delivery to a nearby refinery (usually associated with each other). Refineries can take from the pipeline and refine the crude helium into pure or grade A+ helium.
The pipeline easements were acquired through purchase and condemnation in 1962 to provide for a minimum 50- to 60-foot-wide right-of-way to accommodate the pipeline.
An interactive map showing the locations of the easements is available.
Satanta Maintenance Station – The maintenance station is located at 2089 Road HH at its intersection with U.S. Highway 56 approximately 1.5 miles northeast of Satanta, Kansas. The property consists of 10.46 acres of fee interest land improved with three buildings (office, garage/shop, and storage containing a total of 3,800 square feet), storm shelter, and site improvements (fencing, lighting, roads, and utilities). The buildings are of metal and masonry construction built in the 1960’s. This property serves as the maintenance station for the Federal Helium Pipeline, which passes through the site.
Additional information about the Federal Helium Program and the Federal Helium System can be found on BLM'S website.
Virtual Building Tours
Key Documents and Information
Public Notice - Historic and Archaeological Resources
In accordance with the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, the U.S. Government is leaving the helium storage and management business and will be selling government-owned helium assets associated with the Federal Helium System. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has reported the Federal Helium System excess to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which will follow its statutory property disposal process. Because of the congressional mandate, GSA must dispose of the Federal Helium System under an expedited timeline that requires the sale to commence this year. GSA plans to conduct a sale of the Reserve in Fall of 2022, with actual conveyance of the real property by late 2022. The government action or undertaking under the National Historic Preservation Act, is the sale of real property out of Federal ownership. The real property in this undertaking includes the Cliffside helium storage reservoir and enrichment plant (Amarillo, TX), a 450-mile pipeline system extending from Amarillo, TX through parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, and the pipeline’s metering station in Satanta, KS.
In support of this action, GSA must fulfill federal obligations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 (16 USC 470 et seq., as amended). The views of the
public are essential to informed Federal decision making in the Section 106 process. As a result, GSA must consider public comments. In support of this, GSA is seeking public comment
related to the historical and archeological studies described below.
Intensive historical and cultural resources studies were conducted by contracted professional historians and archeologists in the summer of 2022. Those studies recommended:
The Federal Helium Pipeline is recommended as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places in the areas of Helium Conservation and Industry, at the national level of
significance for the temporal period of 1962 to 1996. This is inclusive of the government’s mission associated with the conservation (stockpiling) of helium. Historic properties within this
period include the helium pipeline, certain infrastructure within the present-day Cliffside Helium Plant (the historic headquarters of the Cliffside Gas Field near Amarillo) as well as the present day Satanta Maintenance Station (KS). It also includes three well cellars, three remote-operation well cellars, and the buried supply lines, which connect the well cellars to the
Cliffside Helium Plant, with the drip stations along those lines. These findings have been shared with the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas
and Native American Tribes and Nations ancestral to the region.
An intensive archeological survey consisting of a pedestrian walk-over with shovel testing was conducted within the boundaries of the Cliffside Helium Plant located north of the City of
Amarillo, Potter County, Texas and the Satanta Helium Processing Plant located northeast of the Satanta, Haskell County, Kansas. No archeological properties were identified at either facility and the ground was found to be heavily disturbed. The archeological investigators also performed a desktop review of the mineral estate and multi-state pipeline for known archeological sites; geology, soils, and hydrological maps; and available historic aerials. The intent was to provide information on currently known archeological sites and information of the potential locations of unknown archeological sites within the immediate area of the helium infrastructure. Twelve sites have been recorded; only two of the sites were in close proximity to the pipeline. Neither of these sites are recommended as eligible for listing in the National Register. Archeological materials or deposits on either side of the pipeline corridor may still exist but have also been disturbed to varying degrees with long-term farming, ranching, oil, and gas exploration and extracting activities, road construction and maintenance, and in some areas, particularly in Kansas, community development. Based on the information reviewed and the knowledge that the grounds of the Cliffside and Satanta facilities as well as the underground pipeline are disturbed, no additional archeological studies were recommended. Archeological reviewers with the Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas Historic Preservation Office also reviewed these findings and determined no additional archeological studies were required associated with this action.
GSA anticipates resolving the adverse effects associated with the sale of National Register eligible elements of the federal helium reserve infrastructure through the development of a historic context prepared by professional historians who did similar work for other helium facilities. The historic context will present information about the helium reserve’s historical development patterns, significant historic properties, and their national significance. The resulting study will be distributed to local public libraries and synopsized in entries in the Handbook of Texas and Kansas Memory’s Kansapedia .
Public comments welcome between 10/15/2022 and 10/30/2022. Requests for additional information or comments may be directed to the following individuals in the U.S. General
- Victoria Clow, Historic Preservation Specialist: 817-233-9876 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- William Rollings, Branch Chief, Real Property Utilization and Disposal: 817-978-4324 or email@example.com
Open House Event
The Government will host an Open House event on November 16, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. CST for the Federal Helium System Cliffside.
- This open house is open to first time participants who haven't participated in one of the previous open house events
- Open House slots will be made on a first come first serve basis
- All parties will be limited to no more than 3 individuals per party
- This open house will only accommodate 30 participants maximum. Sign ups will end after the maximum has been reached.
Sign up for the Open House Event Here
The Data Room provides access to key due diligence information to help bidders prepare for the sale.
The location of pipelines and easements can be found in this interactive map.
- Public sale – TBD
- Property conveyance – TBD
Invitation for Bid
The Invitation for Bid (IFB) provides the property description; terms of sale; instructions to bidders; notices and covenants; and bidder registration and bid form.
The sale type is TBD and the pertinent information will be posted soon.
- The sale process allows for interested parties to bid on and potentially acquire the property in a transparent, expedited process.
- Interested parties are encouraged to review the Invitation for Bids (IFB) and tour the property.
- Bidders are required to post a bid deposit (refundable if not awarded the property). The bid deposit and the minimum bid for the property are TBD.
- The property is being sold AS-IS, WHERE-IS. GSA has provided numerous due diligence documents on the property for review by potential bidders. The documents can be viewed in the Key Documents section.
Where to Bid
- The specific details concerning where to place bids are TBD.
For details, inquiries and/or questions regarding property inspection:
For media inquires, contact:
Tina Jaegerman, GSA Regional Public Affairs Officer