BIDDING NOW CLOSED on Fall 2012 Helium-3 Auction

Helium-3 Auction in Fall 2012


General Information
The U.S. Department of Energy (Department) has been participating in an Interagency Group to assess and prioritize requests for He-3 necessary for the federal mission while simultaneously taking steps to decrease demand and increase supply. Since numerous important activities requiring He-3 are outside of the federal mission, the Department has identified 4,000 liters of purified He-3 gas for competitive sale. Stakeholders whose Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 He-3 needs will be met by the federal allocation process, or who submitted requests for He-3 gas through a U.S. federal agency in anticipation of participating in the FY 2013 federal allocation process, should not participate in this auction. The Department wishes to sell the He-3 to multiple Bidders who submit the highest bids in a competitive bid process. Initially, each Bidder will be limited to 400 liters, but may bid on unlimited lots of 25 or 100 liters each. Should there be any He-3 remaining after the 400 liter limit has been reached by all Bidders, then remaining gas will go to the highest Bidder.

Deadlines
October 9, 2012:
DOE's Invitation for Bids (IFB) for the purchase of He-3 gas is scheduled to be posted on, and available for downloading from, this web page.
October 23, 2012 [5:00 PM EST]:
Last time for questions regarding the IFB. All questions must be submitted to He3auction@science.doe.gov by this deadline.
October 26, 2012 [5:00 PM EST]:
DOE will respond to all submitted questions in the IFB, and post the answers on this web page. The identity of the stakeholder posing the question will be kept anonymous and will not be posted on the website.
[SECOND REVISION] November 14, 2012 [5:00 PM EST]:
All valid bids to purchase He-3 gas must be received by the U.S. Department of Energy no later than 5 PM, local prevailing time (Washington, DC) on November 14, 2012. All valid bids to purchase He-3 gas must be submitted by completing the order form below and sent electronically by email to He3auction@science.doe.gov. A confirmation of receipt will be sent electronically within 24 hours of the next business working day. Bids will not be accepted via U.S. Postal Service mail.

More Information

Feb Biz Opps Announcement: "Invitation for Bids to Purchase Helium-3 Gas"

[REVISED] He-3 Auction Overview from US DOE Isotope Program

[REVISED] He-3 Auction Full Detailed Description

He-3 Order Form (MS Word)

He-3 Order Form (PDF)

Questions on He-3 Auction

Answers to all submitted questions on the He-3 Auction Invitation for Bids will be posted here. The deadline for submitting questions is 5:00 pm EST, October 23, 2012; all answers will be posted by 5:00 pm EST, Oct. 26, 2012.

NOTICE: The Q&A period is now closed. All answers will be posted by today, October 26th. Further inquiries to He3auction@science.doe.gov will not be addressed.

Questions and Answers

Q1. What happens if the US is not the highest bidder?
A1. HELIUM-3 (He-3) SALES SOLICITATION; He-3 Sales Invitation for Bids Provisions (HSP); SECTION B.4, indicates "DOE will only sell He-3 to Bidders customarily engaged in activities utilizing helium. By submission of a bid, the Bidder certifies that it meets this requirement." Within the bounds of export control regulations, DOE places no restriction on country of origin for bids. With an initial 400-liter bid limit, the DOE expects it will make multiple sales awards, including potential higher-bid sales originating in foreign countries.

Q2. The Oil and Gas Services Industry is a major user of helium-3. Because the Oil and Gas industry received federal allocations on an annual basis, will it be allowed to bid for this incremental allocation of He-3 gas or is this only for industries/organizations which do not benefit from directed allocations?
A2. HELIUM-3 (He-3) SALES SOLICITATION; He-3 Sales Invitation for Bids Provisions (HSP); SECTION B Preamble Provision No. 1 sets a term of sale: "1. He-3 is for sale only to stakeholders that do not currently participate in the existing federal allocation process of He-3." For FY 2013, the international oil and gas exploration and production industry is not included in the federal allocation process. Therefore, all bids submitted by stakeholders in support of this industry will be accepted and weighed with other bids.

Q3. Please indicate the helium-3 gas enrichment.
A3. Greater than or equal to 99.9%

Q4. Where can we find an analytical data sheet indicating residual impurities concentration?
A4. Analytical data is provided in Attachment B of the solicitation document at the following link:
[REVISED] http://isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/He-3_bid_invitation.pdf

Q5. Please provide cylinder size and the weight.
A5. Size 6 cylinder: 4 inch outside diameter by 9 inches long and a weight of 9 pounds. Size 30 cylinder: 7 inch outside diameter by 18 inches long and a weight of 22 pounds.

Q6. What would be the pressure of the 100 liter of Helium-3 in this size cylinder?
A6. Size 6 cylinder: The fill pressure for 100 liters is nominally 975 psia. Size 30 cylinder: The fill pressure for 100 liters is nominally 180 psia.

Q7. Do you have purity specifications available for the He-3 Gas to be auctioned, such as Enrichment (ratio of He-3 to He-4 Gas), Chemical impurities, Total % of He, etc. If so, a copy of any available specifications would be appreciated.
A7. Analytical data is provided in Attachment B of the solicitation document at the following link:
[REVISED] http://isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/He-3_bid_invitation.pdf

Q8. Do purchase requests through U.S. government allocations of helium-3, via https://helium3.linde.com/, prevent participation in the auction now? If purchase requests are cancelled, or if they are rejected by the U.S. government, can those parties participate in the Auction?
A8. [UPDATED] Any stakeholders not included in FY 2013 U.S. government allocations of He-3, or whose purchase requests have been rejected, or who have withdrawn their purchase request, are encouraged to participate in the Auction. Only stakeholders with approved FY 2013 or anticipated approvals of formal allocations of U.S. government helium-3 gas are excluded from this auction.

Q9. The majority of the companies in the Oil and Gas Services Industry that utilize He-3 are small to medium size businesses who operate almost solely in the domestic market. For most of these companies their annual purchase of He-3 gas is in amounts of well under the 100 liter minimum set in this auction. Will bids on lots of less than 100 liters be accepted?
A9. The DOE wishes to ensure that small and medium business needs are addressed by this auction. Given the concern expressed over the minimum lot size, the DOE is amending its Sales Solicitation provisions to accept a minimum bid amount of 25 liters for the purposes of this auction only. Bidders may bid for one or multiple lots. If a Bidder requests a total amount of He-3 up to and including 100 liters, the lot sizes must be in increments of 25 liters or a single 100 liter lot. If a Bidder requests 100 liters of He-3 or more, the lot sizes must be in increments of 100 liters. The end date of the auction is revised to accommodate this change. All other parameters remain the same. All valid bids to purchase He-3 gas must follow the instructions in the amended Sales Solicitation, provided at http://www.isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/index.html, using the order form provided online, and submitted electronically by email to He3auction@science.doe.gov by November 14, 2012. Please note that future auctions may revert back to a 100 liter minimum lot size.

Q10. We would like to ask whether companies outside the US are allowed to bid and if our understanding is correct that all valid bids to purchase He-3 gas must be received by the U.S. Department of Energy no later than 5 PM, local prevailing time (Washington, DC) on November 6, 2012. Even from outside the US bids from qualified Bidders have to be submitted in electronic format to He3auction@science.doe.gov.
A10. The U.S. Department of Energy welcomes He-3 Sale Solicitation bids from foreign research and commercial institutions. The DOE requires that all bids be submitted electronically via email to He3auction@science.doe.gov. Please note that the DOE amended the terms of the Sales Solicitation on October 17, 2012. The submittal deadline has been extended to November 14th, 2012 to accommodate changes in lot size. See http://www.isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/index.html for details.

Q11. Please define how the He3 Gas was purified. That is, was this gas purified by your sole contractor Linde Gas? Is the purity level certifiable by them or DOE?
A11. The method of purification and analysis is sensitive information. Analytical data is provided in Attachment B of the solicitation document at the following link:
[REVISED] http://isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/He-3_bid_invitation.pdf

Q12. Do they have any “starting price” for the auction?
A12. Minimum bid price is $2,500 per liter. All requirements for bids, minimum bids prices, and maximum bid quantities are described online at: http://www.isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/index.html

Q13. I assume that we (one company) should submit one quantity with one price. Please confirm.
A13. Unlimited bids will be accepted. Each bidder is limited to an initial 400-liter maximum sales award. Higher bids will be awarded ahead of lower bids until the limited supply is exhausted. All requirements for bids, minimum bids prices, and maximum bid quantities are described online at: http://www.isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/index.html

Q14. Please confirm the minimum quantity as well as the maximum quantity we can bid.
A14. Bids in minimum 25-liter increments will be accepted. Bids above 100 liters must be in increments of 100 liters each. Unlimited bids will be accepted. Each bidder is limited to an initial 400-liter maximum sales award. Higher bids will be awarded ahead of lower bids until the limited supply is exhausted. Any He-3 gas remaining after awarding sales to all bidders will be offered to the highest bidder. All requirements for bids, minimum bids prices, and maximum bid quantities are described online at: http://www.isotopes.gov/he-3auction2012/index.html

Q15. We have a customer who is a university professor using school starting up-funding to buy a special (large) He-3 cryostat that may need 30 NTP liter He-3 gas. Following DOE instruction, we will apply for the He-3 gas for this in FY2013 (but no guarantee to get approved). Should I also count his need when I participate in the auction?
A15. Stakeholders engaged in research, whose Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 He-3 needs will be met by the federal allocation process, or who submitted requests for He-3 gas through a U.S. federal agency in anticipation of participating in the FY 2013 federal allocation process, should not participate in this auction. Applicants who are uncertain of their status in the 2013 federal allocation process should contact Linde Gas (https://helium3.linde.com) and obtain clarifications from their federal agency champion before bidding in response to this Sales Solicitation.

Q16. When will the bidder be advised of the end result of their bid?
A16. DOE will notify the awardee(s) via e-mail followed by an official award letter on Department letterhead. DOE expects informal notifications will be made in two to three weeks from the close of the bidding process.

Q17. When the auction has closed, will the dollar value of the winning bid results be announced? If yes, do you have to participate with a bid to get the results?
A17.No. Dollar values of the winning bid(s) will not be announced.

Q18. Should we expect this auction to be conducted annually as supply allows? If so, is a public "live" auction format a possibility in the future as opposed to a closed envelope format?
A18. The DOE is holding this auction on behalf of the federal government because the federal government recognizes that critical demand exists beyond federal agency missions. The DOE foresees that an annual auction could take place for several years. The timing and format of future auctions is subject to change.

Q19. Since an US DOE Isotope and Technical Order Form is required for bid submittal, the order form requires a "Buyers Order No." Is a purchase order expected (in a pending status) for each bid submitted?
A19. A purchase order is not needed for a bid submittal.

Q20. Can I submit one bid for 100 liters in 25 liter increments at four different price points?
A20. Each bid should be accompanied by its own bid price per liter. The bids prices need not be the same. Bids will be ranked and awarded in decreasing order of bid price. Up to and including 100 liters, bids can be submitted in 25 liter increments, if desired.

Q21. If I as one company submit a bid for less than 100 liters in 25 liter increments, can I submit a second bid for greater than 100 liters in 100 liter increments?
A21. HELIUM-3 (He-3) SALES SOLICITATION SECTION B Preamble Provision No. 8 establishes each bid submittal may include separate bids in increments of 25 liters up to a maximum of 100 liters. Bid submittals exceeding 100 liters total must be in 100-liter increments. Individual bid submittals including both 25-liter and 100-liter increments are not responsive to the Sales Solicitation.

Q22. Can Industrial gas trading companies in Japan bid on He-3 gas?
A22. Yes.

Q23. Is there any restriction of total quantity of the He-3 gas for each country, for example, Japan?
A23. No.

Q24. Please tell us NIDC's future plans on these He3 auctions. How often? How much?
A24. The Department of Energy Isotope Program is holding this auction upon recommendation of the He-3 Federal Interagency Working Group. It is foreseen that these auctions will continue for several years, assuming that there are no unanticipated changes to the He-3 federal supply.

Q25. If the entire auction quantity of 4000 liters of He-3 is not sold at auction at the current minimum bid of $2,500.00 per liter, or more, will the remaining quantity be withdrawn from the market or re-offered at a new, lower, minimum bid price?
A25. No. Unsold He-3 gas remaining after this auction will be returned to the federal stockpile. It will be used to support future allocations to federal needs, and any future auction.

Q26. For potential foreign bidders, is there foreseen a procedure to give security to the buyer for providing advance payment, e.g. an official letter of credit by DOE or similar?
A26. Advance payment accompanying Bidder's initial submittals are not required. Approval of bid submittals and terms of payment are described in detail in HELIUM-3 (He-3) SALES SOLICITATION; He-3 Sales Invitation for Bids Provisions (HSP); SECTIONS B.16 and B18. The sales award letter and signed Isotope and Technical Service Order Form(s) CA-10-90, rev. 3, shall establish DOE's agreement to deliver.