U.S. Supply Of Helium Rapidly Depleting

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Officials at the Federal Helium Reserve, source of almost half of the U.S. helium supply and more than a third of the world's, say the reserve could exhaust its supply of the inert, nonflammable, lighter-than-air gas by 2020.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is responsible for the helium reserve, which consists of about two dozen wells about 15 miles northwest of Amarillo. The wells draw the naturally occurring, inert, lighter-than-air gas from the ground and feed it into a 450-mile pipeline to Kansas.

BLM Amarillo field office manager Leslie Theiss tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that "there is just a finite amount of helium out there."

In her words, "The clock is winding down on this place."