PER Fonts-Bouillants

Fonts-Bouillants in brief

The French Nièvre region has been known since antiquity for its carbo-gaseous springs, which were initially exploited for thermalism and later as mineral waters.

Research work and field measurements near the springs of Saint-Parize-Le-Châtel have revealed a strong potential for helium, naturally released at the surface with carbon dioxide through a major and known fault: the Saint-Parize fault.

45-8 ENERGY has applied for an Exclusive Research Permit (PER) for helium and associated resources over an area of 251sqkm covering 12 municipalities in the Nièvre region. This permit was granted in June 2021 by the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Since the granting of the permit, various data acquisition works have been carried out (sampling, gravimetry, drilling, seismic...) and have validated the potential of the area.

In early 2024, a pilot production unit will start up on the Fonts-Bouillants site, a European first in helium production! If this first production phase is encouraging, long-term production will be considered.

Towards the first helium production pilot in france and Western Europe


Fonts-Bouillants project

The French Nièvre region has been known since antiquity for its carbo-gaseous springs, which were initially exploited as thermalism and later as mineral waters. Research and field measurements near the springs of Saint-Parize-Le-Châtel have revealed a strong potential for helium, naturally released at the surface with carbon dioxide through a major fault well known by geologists: the Saint-Parize fault. 

45-8 ENERGY has filed an application for an Exclusive Research Permit (PER) for helium and carbon dioxide in an area of 251sqkm in the south of the Nivernais region. The license was granted in June 2021 by the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

The goal of this application is to study a possible joint valorisation of these two gases and thus satisfy locally and in a eco-responsible way two markets in which demand is strong and subject to regular supply problems.

This permit, called “Fonts-Bouillants”, has a validity of 5 years in order to progressively carry out the necessary works on the whole permit.

Exploration area size

0 km²

691 km²

Taille de la zone d’exploration

Valid period of the license
0 years

5 ans

Validité du PER

First helium production in France


Communes concernées


License goals

Enrich our global geological knowledge of the area to better characterize the natural gas seeps.

Establish reliable gas flow rates and composition

Demonstrate technical and economic viability of helium and carbon dioxide co-valorizations


Valued gases from the area

The gas mix of the Fonts-Bouillants area reveals a strong potential in helium naturally released at the surface.

The fault of Saint-Parize-le-Châtel is known for the natural emission of carbon dioxide on the surface. 45-8 ENERGY aims to co-develop this ressource associated with helium in order to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that would be due to its direct release into the atmosphere.


The exploration area

The exploration license covers 251 km² of the Nièvre region, spread over 12 municipalities. Most of exploration work will be concentrated in the municipality of Saint-Parize-Le-Châtel but might also extend to the following municipalities:

  • Azy-le-Vif
  • Chantenay-Saint-Imbert
  • Chevenon
  • Dornes
  • Luthenay-Uxeloup
  • Magny-Cours
  • Neuville-les-Decize
  • Saint-Parize-en-Viry
  • Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier
  • Sermoise-sur-Loire
  • Toury-sur-Jour


The work program

The planned exploration work remains small scale and will have a very moderate and strictly temporary impact on the environment. It mainly consists of geophysical data acquisitions enabling a safe and efficient subsurface characterisation.


Ongoing operations

Medium-depth drilling

On the communes of Saint-Parize-le-Châtel and Saint-Pierre-le-Moûtier

Drilling will take place from March to July 2024 (provisional dates).

45-8 ENERGY works with the French company FORAGES MASSE, experts in this type of operation.

A new medium-depth drilling campaign is in progress, with the aim of uncovering additional volumes of helium capable of supplying an industrial production unit in the long term.

A temporary platform has been set up to accommodate and carry out the necessary work. The site will then be restored to its original state.

Wells that have shown encouraging results will be tested. This involves partially opening the well several times to measure its production rate, then closing it again and recording the pressure build-up.

Drilling zone located at Saint-Parize-le-Châtel, away from residential areas.

Construction of helium production pilot unit

On the commune of Saint-Parize-le-Châtel

Construction of the helium pilot unit began in June 2023. Delivery is scheduled for May 2024.

With this helium pilot plant, 45-8 ENERGY becomes the leading helium producer in France and Western Europe!

The pilot production unit will provide definitive confirmation of the technical and economic viability of a long-term production project.
Located in the hamlet of Fonts-Bouillants, the unit has been designed with the highest respect for the environment and landscape.

With this unit, we plan to produce our first gas bottle in mid-May 2024 and start commercial production in September 2024. A first for France!

Helium pilot unit under construction

Our operations in images

Overview of our 2D/3D seismic acquisition in July 2021.


Key steps

Fonts-Bouillants Exploration license application
Fonts-Bouillants exploration license award
2021 - 2022
July 21 - July 22
Conducting geophysical acquisitions
March - May
Shallow drilling and filling tests
Start of construction of a pilot production unit
March - September*
Medium depth drilling
Start of pilot helium production in France

* schedule under approval / previsional calendar


A recognized and supported project

Greentech Innovation label

Greentech Innovation label

This project led by 45-8 ENERGY aims to be eco-responsible and committed to the ecological transition. It received the Greentech Innovation label on September 2020 from the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

The captation and valorization of the naturally seeping carbon dioxide, contributing to the greenhouse effect, is today considered. The future production site is being brainstormed in such a way to reconcile industrial activity and respect for the environment through the rehabilitation of a historic industrial site and innovative joint valorizations.

Laureate of the French "Recovery plan"

Laureate of the French "Recovery plan"


The Fonts-Bouillants project is closely linked to our PROMET-Hé (MEmbranaire PROced for the Treatment of Helium) R&D development project which consists in developing an eco-responsible, local, compact process requiring a much lower energy consumption than the reference processes. This project, carried out in partnership with the Laboratoire de Réactions & Génie des Procédés (LRGP) and the CNRS, may ultimately allow French and European helium sector to emerge with a first application on the Fonts-Bouillants license.

Indeed, we plan to implement locally a mobile pilot unit dedicated to surface separation of helium and carbon dioxide. This has a dual objective: to validate technical and economic viability of the Fonts-Bouillants project and test the PROMET-Hé technologies before deployment on an industrial scale.

The PROMET-Hé project was aknowledge by the French Ministry in charge of Industry and Bpifrance which has retained the project as part of the call for projects "Recovery plan for industry - Strategic sectors" thus engaging to support our forecast investment up to up to 52% testifying to its contribution to national sovereignty.

Find out more about 45-8 ENERGY