SA’s gassy future kicks in: Afrox to market helium from new Free State field

Afrox, South Africa. Picture published courtesy of Twitter.
Picture published courtesy of Twitter @agenceecofin.

JOHANNESBURG, May 4 (Reuters) – South Africa’s African Oxygen Limited (Afrox) and Renergen have signed a deal that will see Afrox process and market helium extracted from the Free State Helium and Natural Gas field, the companies said on Wednesday.

“The contract will enable Afrox to locally source and supply Helium to numerous specialised and industrial markets by 2018/19. Afrox … will operate the processing plant and market the Helium,” the companies said in a statement.

Renergen is an alternative and renewable energy company while Afrox, a unit of the Linde Group, is sub-Saharan Africa’s market leader in gases and welding products.

The companies did not say what the contract was worth.

The 187,000 hectare Helium and Natural Gas field in the northern Free State province has proven reserves of 25 billion cubic feet of helium and natural gas.

Mineral-rich South Africa is keen to develop and explore for sources of natural gas in a bid to diversify its energy mix.

Helium – best known as the gas used to fill party balloons – is a critical product in the aerospace and defense industries and also used in the manufacture of smart phones and medical equipment, among other things.

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