Helium One plc (LON:HE1) Chief Executive Officer David Minchin caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss Helium One’s strategy, why helium is so important, drilling programme, the recent gas show and what’s next for the company.
Q1: First off, can you just provide us with a brief overview of Helium One and what the strategy is?
A1: So, we are an exploration company, we’re focusing on our primary flagship project which is in the Rukwa basin in Tanzania. We’ve been able to secure 4,500 square kilometers of helium prospective land in Tanzania which is probably the most prospective land in the world for high quality primary helium.
Primary helium is very significant, we’ve been able to produce helium with nitrogen by-products and therefore not related to global warming in any way, being part of the transition to green economy.
We’ve got a 100 best estimates un-risked prospective helium resources of 138 billion cubic feet, we’ve measured the gas coming up to surface at 10.6% helium, which positions us well to be a potentially strategic player in provision of this important commodity into the next century.
Q2: Can you explain for us why helium is so important?
A2: Helium’s has got a diverse range of end uses, it’s not just for the squeaky voice balloons, it goes into lots of high-tech things, it goes MRI scanners, it’s used in, hard drives, in cloud storage, it used in the manufacturer of fiber optic cables, it’s used in the manufacture in heavy conductor chips. There’s a lot of things which a few years ago were high-tech and are now tech but as we move on into the next century, these are going to be just part of our normal way of life.
Q3: Can you update us on where you’ve got to with your drilling programme then?
A3: So, we’re doing our first hole here in the Rukwa basin, this is our flagship project because it is endowed with a large amount of historic data which we’ve then since augmented it with 200 kilometres of infill seismic.
We have commenced exploration work on our first drill target which is the Tai prospect in the north-west part of our area of interest. This was something that was really generated from that infill seismic, it followed a single line identification with questionable structure to something which was a ‘must drill’ target. A very nice, three-way dip closure and we’ve been doing that for about a month now and the results so far are highly encouraging.
Q4: Can you just explain for us what the gas show that you announced means?
A4: We’ve had some really positive indications of helium at the top half of Tai-1, both of which have been in areas which are quite unexpected for us. The significance of it is they’ve been underneath quite marginal seal units which really confirms our belief that we’ve got a highly prospective basin. This is a considerable amount of helium recharge which allows helium to be accumulated for the seal units which are particularly efficient, we don’t need to have an efficient seal to make an effective trap because it looks to us like a highly charged basin.
Q5: Now, the announcement mentioned sidetrack. How does the sidetrack work?
A5: So, unfortunately, we’re drilling through a very encouraging gas show of 451 metres, we went 9 metres into 562 when the pipes broke at 482 so we tried to recover the pipes over several days but in the end, the pipes weren’t recoverable.
So, we’ve pulled back and we’ve run down a wedge to deflect the drill string out of the main hole, out into a sidetrack, it’s called a sidetrack because you’re coming out of the side of the main hole and only drilling parallel to break on its ground and to drill down and test our priority targets.
We’ve had a great deal of success in the upper half of the hole, but we haven’t even tested our main targets yet so I’m super excited to be out here in the field and to keep things moving.
Q6: That leads me to my last question then, what are the next steps for Helium One?
A6: So, the sidetrack has been a success, we can then start to push to our target depth, and we’ll be, obviously, keeping the market informed as the drill hole progresses and we move on first exploration drill into our first discovery drill.