Noble Helium Limited (ASX: NHE) recently issued an update on the drilling results at Mbelele at the company’s North Rukwa Helium Project in Tanzania.
The data collected from drilling the Mbelele-1 well indicates a 10-15 meter column of free gas within the upper part of the Mbelele structure, consisting of a mixture of helium and nitrogen.
While as previously advised a sample of the gas could not be collected, this interval encountered the highest helium readings in mud gas for the entire drilling program.
The company is now working with Netherland Sewell and Associates Inc (NSAI) to satisfy the requirements under the guidelines of the SPE-PRMS (a standard for consistently defining, classifying, and estimating hydrocarbon resources) for declaration of a conventional helium discovery.
The company considers the free gas as potential material for its early monetization plans and intends to revisit this gas intersection as soon as possible with a small, low-cost rig for sampling and flow testing.
Gas-phase helium was further recovered at the surface from fluid samples taken from deeper reservoirs beneath the free gas column within the Mbelele structure.
As the fluid samples were brought to the surface, they depressurized naturally and gas came out of the solution (‘exsolved’) into free gas, which was then calculated to contain Nitrogen and 2-3% Helium (after correction for air contamination).
This represents the minimum amount of helium contained within the fluid sample. Evidence indicates all of the reported reservoir intersections at Mbelele-1 and Mbelele-2 contain these helium-enriched fluids.
Not only did each reservoir have helium shows in mud gas, but in numerous cases exsolution bubbles with elevated helium were identified in the mud system while drilling, demonstrating high levels of gas saturation.
Combined with their high saturations, helium content and significant thickness, these high-quality and permeable reservoirs represent a new play type in North Rukwa and potentially significant upside, as an unconventional resource within the Mbelele structure.
While waiting on lab results to confirm helium concentrations within the fluid samples, the company is working with the Centre for Natural Gas at the University of Queensland to satisfy the requirements of the SPE-PRMS for an unconventional discovery.
The results to date confirm North Rukwa as a prolific helium-producing province and enhance the prospectivity of the company’s mapped prospects and leads.
Rukwa is a large-scale, high-grade, primary helium project covering an area of approximately 3,590 km2 in southwestern Tanzania with the potential to become a strategic asset in resolving a supply-constrained market.
The North Rukwa project boasts a potential helium resource of 176 billion cubic feet, making this the largest known primary helium resource in the world, and positioning this Tanzanian region as a potential major source of helium globally.
Helium is indispensable in various applications, from hospital MRI machines to components in electronics and space missions.