Huge helium mother lode a ‘game changer’

Children sponsored by Canadians, Americans and Germans release helium filled balloons as a symbolic thanks to their sponsors thousands of kilometres away. The children are sponsored through programs run by the Church of God and Kinderhilfswerk. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

A ‘game changing’ helium discovery has been made in the Rukwa basin. In this file photo, children release helium filled balloons in Kampala, Uganda. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

A ‘game changing’ helium gas reserve has been discovered in the Rift Valley in western Tanzania.

This is the first time in history that a helium gas reserve has been deliberately discovered, says the University of Oxford’s Chris Ballentine, who is part of the team announcing the find.

“This is a game-changer for the future security of society’s helium needs and similar finds in the future may not be far away,” says Ballentine, speaking to the AFP.

Normally, helium reserves are accidentally discovered during oil and gas drilling; the next nearest known reserve is located on Jupiter.

Norwegian exploration company Helium One made the discovery in the Rukwa basin, believed to contain 1.53 billion cubic meters of helium — large enough to fill 1.2 million MRI scanners or, in other terms, 600,000 olympic-sized swimming pools.

Helium is a rare gas in short supply that is used in medicine, research, space ships and, of course, party balloons.

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About the Author

Daniel Hayduk

Daniel is Dar Post’s news director. When not in the newsroom, he spends his days helping NGOs across the continent find their creative side.