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London – July 13, 2021 – Helium was discovered at the beginning of the last century, and the US government immediately placed production and supply under strict control. Mentioned in today’s commentary includes: Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE: APD), Dow Inc. (NYSE: DOW), Linde plc (NYSE: LIN), Magna International Inc. (NYSE: MGA), Westport Fuel Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT).
Then, in the 1960s, the Cold War rendered helium even more valuable. It was collected and stored in the US federal helium reserve in Amarillo, Texas. It was only in the late 1990s that the government allowed helium from the reserve to be sold to private entities. Now, the reserve is nearly depleted and will shut down entirely in September.
“By adding it to the list of strategic minerals, the US government is recognizing that our healthcare and high tech future is intricately tied to helium,” says Chris Bakker, CEO of Avanti Energy Inc. (AVN.V; ARGYF), a junior Canadian explorer that is getting ready for its maiden drill on a prime helium prospect in Alberta.
The 21st Century Economy Is Nothing Without Helium
Nothing is possible without it. Not astrophysics. Not space travel. Not big data. Not fiber optics, or even an MRI. And there is absolutely no substitute for helium in the massively growing $5.7-billion cryogenics market, where temperatures below –429 °F are required.
Helium is formed when radioactive elements (uranium and thorium) decay through fission into smaller particles that are helium atoms stripped of their electrons. That fission replenishes helium that is then dispersed in the atmosphere or trapped in minerals typically found in natural gas reservoirs, where helium is usually “mined” as a by-product.
Its properties are vital to virtually everything that is the backbone of our modern-day economy. In addition to the fact that it is inert and nonreactive, helium is also non-toxic and boils at -268 degrees Celsius–near absolute zero, which is the lowest temperature in the universe. In other words, helium is irreplaceable.
Leading America’s Helium Boom
The beginning of Q2 saw Avanti acquire the license for over 6,000 acres from the Government of Alberta in highly prospective helium territory, and then another ~2,500 acres in Alberta.
In mid-April, Avanti moved to acquire the helium license rights to a 12,000-acre land package in Montana that is on-trend with an active helium drilling area in Saskatchewan, and anticipated to close in the coming weeks..
But the biggest news is this fourth acquisition of license rights to the 50,000 acres in Montana that Avanti expects to be finalized by the end of this month, giving Avanti rights to 60,000 acres of prospective helium land against the backdrop of a critically looming supply squeeze.
The Companies Dependent On Helium
Air Products & Chemicals (APD) is the world’s leading supplier of industrial gases and chemical process equipment. The company offers a wide variety of products, including oxygen, helium, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide and argon gas. One major product that Air Products produces is liquid nitrogen which is used in hospitals for manufacturing vaccines or cryogenic storage tanks to keep natural gas pipelines at low temperatures.
Dow Chemical Company (DOW) is a leading global chemical company with a portfolio that includes such well-known brands as Dow, DuPont and Dow Corning. The company’s operations span the globe and include more than 170 manufacturing sites in North America, Europe and Asia.
Dow Chemicals is no stranger to helium, either. While it doesn’t produce or use helium, the company does produce materials needed to store and keep helium cool. It’s a massive company, and it’s known for its innovative approach to new industries, so as helium and other new applications for resources continue to emerge, Dow will be right there.
Linde plc (LIN) is a multinational engineering and chemical company with operations in more than 100 countries. The company was founded in 1879 and has been publicly traded on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since 1964. Linde’s mission statement defines “pursuit of excellence” as their ambition to be “the world’s leading gases and engineering group” through technological leadership, knowledge of customer needs, social responsibility and economic success. Linde Engineering designs and builds large-scale chemical plants for the production of industrial gases including oxygen, helium, nitrogen, argon, hydrogen and carbon monoxide.
Magna International (MGA) is a Canadian-based company that provides engineering, manufacturing and supply chain solutions. The company is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers with over 100 facilities in 29 countries on six continents. Magna has been named one of Canada’s Top Employers for four consecutive years by Mediacorp Canada Inc. Magna International was founded in 1957 by Frank Stronach and his family in Austria but moved to Toronto in 1959 after receiving an Austrian government contract from Volkswagen Group. Now as one of the world’s leading providers of engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain innovation services to customers worldwide, Magna continues its tradition of providing quality products through innovative technologies while managing resources efficiently at every step of the process.
Westport Fuel Systems (WPRT) is a leading manufacturer of aftermarket fuel systems for diesel engines and gasoline engines. Their products are designed to meet or exceed OEM specifications without sacrificing performance, quality, reliability, or durability. Westport’s mission is to provide customers with the best solutions available on the market today.
Westport isn’t necessarily a resource play, but it is an important company to watch as new fuels and new forms of energy take the spotlight. Especially as the world races to leave behind traditional gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. That’s because, while it is a manufacturing play at heart, it offers a particularly unique way to gain exposure to the alternative fuels market.
By: Lucas Friedman
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FORWARD LOOKING STATEMENTS. This publication contains forward-looking information which is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements in this publication include that prices for helium will significantly increase due to global demand and use in a wide array of industries (including key technology sectors) and that helium will retain its value in future due to the demand increases and overall shortage of supply; that Avanti can pursue exploration of the recently acquired licenses of property in Alberta; that Avanti’s licenses in respect of the Alberta property can achieve drilling and mining success for helium; that Avanti will be able to acquire the rights to helium on the 12,000 acres of land in Montana pursuant to its recent letter of intent announced on April 16, 2021, and the helium rights to the ~50,000 acres of land in Montana pursuant to its recent letter of intent announced on June 14, 2021; that the Avanti team will be able to close on the aforementioned Montana helium license acquisitions; that the Avanti team will be able to develop and implement helium exploration models, including their own proprietary models, that may result in successful exploration and development efforts; that historical geological information and estimations will prove to be accurate or at least very indicative of helium; that high helium content targets exist in the Alberta and both Montana projects; and that Avanti will be able to carry out its business plans, including timing for drilling and exploration. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Risks that could change or prevent these statements from coming to fruition include that demand for helium is not as great as expected; that alternative commodities or compounds are used in applications which currently use helium, thus reducing the need for helium in the future; that the Company may not fulfill the requirements under its Alberta licenses for various reasons or otherwise cannot pursue exploration on the project as planned or at all; that the Company may not be able to acquire the helium rights to the Montana lands as contemplated in the letter of intent or at all; that the Avanti team may be unable to develop any helium exploration models, including proprietary models, which allow successful exploration efforts on any of the Company’s current or future projects; that Avanti may not be able to finance its intended drilling programs to explore for helium or may otherwise not raise sufficient funds to carry out its business plans; that geological interpretations and technological results based on current data may change with more detailed information, analysis or testing; and that despite promise, there may be no commercially viable helium or other resources on any of Avanti’s properties. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and we assume no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
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