East Siberian Producer to Sell Helium to Uniper
East Siberian oil producer Irkutsk Oil (INK) has signed a long-term offtake contract to supply helium to Germany's Uniper, the companies said on July 9.
The helium will be extracted from the Yaraktinskoye gas field and separated from other gases and liquefied at a plant in Ust-Kut in the Irkutsk region. Construction work on the plant is already underway, with production due to start at the end of 2021 and reach 10mn litres of liquid helium/yr at full capacity.
Uniper, which has been involved in helium since 2017, said the deal would help it build up its supply portfolio to meet growing demand.
"We are pleased to have a reliable partner like Uniper, with a growing presence in the helium business, as one of our initial long term contract customers for helium," INK's deputy head of project finance and investments, said.
Many east Siberian gas fields contain large quantities of helium, including Gazprom's giant Chayandinskoye and Kovyktinskoye fields, which are being developed to pump gas to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline. Yaraktinskoye is INK's largest gas field and serves a key role in the oil-focused producer's plans to build up its gas business. INK also wants to use natural gas liquids produced at Yaraktinskoye to produce petrochemicals in Ust-Kut.
An inert gas, helium is sometimes liquefied for use as a coolant in MRI scanners.