Eaton County Information

Eaton County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Eaton County at a Glance

Total Wells drilled through December 1990 307
Total oil wells drilled through December 1990 59
Total gas wells drilled through December 1990 27
Total facility wells drilled through December 1990 1
Total dry holes drilled through December 1990 220
Well Density - approximately one well per each two square miles (572 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through June 30,1990 5,471,622 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through June 30,1990 49,578,264 Mcf.*

* Cumulative natural gas producation figures include all reported production through 1986, prorated production only 1987 - June 30, 1990.

EATON RAPIDS - Despite missing out completely on the numerous Devonian booms which occurred throughout the state in the first 35 years of Michigan's commercial petroleum producing history, the discovery of production from Niagaran reefs in the early 1970's has taken Baton County from nonproducing status to twelfth on the list of alltime natural gas production and thirtieth in oil production among the 59 producing counties in the lower peninsula. (Totals through the end of 1982).

While the emergence of the northern and southern Niagaran reef trends as the most prolific producing horizon in the last two decades has not catapulted Baton as far up the list as it has some other formerly "dry" counties, it should be noted that reef development has taken place in two townships for the most part. Baton Rapids (T2N, R3W) and Hamlin (TIN, R3W).

Only a handful of the 33 Niagaran oil fields and 22 Niagaran gas fields currently being produced were discovered outside that area.

The concentration of wells in the southeast corner of the county partially offsets the relatively unexplored nature of the northern and west central portions of the 572 square mile county. The total of 268 wells drilled for oil and gas through the end of 1985 results in an Baton County overall well density of one per two square miles.

According to Michigan's Oil & Gas News records, all but two townships, Oneida (T4N, R4W) and Delta (T4N, R3W), both in the northeast comer of the county, have been tested at least once for oil or natural gas. A total of only 11 holes have been drilled for oil and gas in the upper two tiers of townships in the county (see map next page).

Early exploration in Baton County was aimed at Devonian targets, with all five holes drilled prior to 1959 testing either the Traverse or Dundee Formations. The first well drilled for hydrocarbons in the county after Michigan's Oil & Gas News began keeping records in the 1930's, was an early 1936 Dundee wildcat in Section 11 of Baton Township (T2N, R4W). After moving in drilling tools in January, 1936, operators D.A. Burris and M.B. Keel were apparently delayed by the heavy snowfalls that all but shut down the Michigan oilpatch for several weeks that year. Drilling progressed relatively quickly once the James & Jennie Moon #l (C SE SW, Sec 11) was spudded. Scouting reports from the early Baton exploratory try indicate a very slight show or "rainbow" of oil was observed before the wildcatters called for the plug at a total depth of 2,442 feet in late April. The shows were apparently not encouraging enough for Burris & Keel or any other operators to take another look at Baton County until 1940, when Strange Oil & Gas drilled to the Traverse (total depth 1,958 feet) in Section 4 of Bellevue Township (TIN, R6W). No shows were reported for the Bellevue hole, with another duster drilled the next year (1941) in Benton Township (T3N, R4W) by Rex Oil Company, also to the Traverse.

The county continued to disappoint operators when a 1946 Dundee effort by Fisher & McCall came up dry in Section 8 of Baton Rapids Township (T2N, R3W). Seven years passed before Baton saw another active hole, with Fisher & McCall again a strikeout victim on a Traverse test in Section 14 of Brookfield Township (TIN, R4W).

Another six years went by before oilmen again showed interest in the area, but this time the objectives were deeper, the Trenton and Black River Groups of formations from4,500 to 5,000 feet down. Turtle Drilling Company put down the county's first Ordovician-age try in late 1959, with several drill stem tests run before plugging the Stocks # I (NW NW SW, Sec 18, TIN, R5W, Walton Township).

A month later The Moco had spudded in Section 22 of Carmel Township (T2N, R5W). Trenton drill stem tests were unsuccessful, but records indicate a show of oil in the Niagaran, some 12 years before the potential of that horizon was to be tapped.

After drill bits first penetrated the Trenton and Black River in Baton County in 1959, only two holes have been targeted and drilled to a formation above the Salina-Niagaran, a 1962 Traverse test in Bellevue Township by independent Walter Harvey, dry at 1,925 feet and a 1971 Detroit River Formation wildcat for Fortuna & Bell in Section 9 of Benton Township, also dry. Bight Trenton-Black River wildcat tests were drilled in the early 1960's, four in Bellevue and the other four just east of Bellevue and in the two townships directly north, Kalamo and Vermontville.

Several holes were drilled in Section 24 of Bellevue Township and nearby Section 30 of Walton Township in the late 1960's and early 1970's, with one, Fortuna Oil Company's James Kellog #1 (SE SE SE, Sec 24, Bellevue Township) testing the only recorded non-Niagaran oil production (340 barrels in total) in Baton County history. Drill stem tests were conducted and completion attempted on several of the tries, with none commercially successful.

Discovery of Baton County's first productive Niagaran reef reservoir (also the most prolific in terms of natural gas production) was made in late 1971 by Amoco Production Company's Ledergerber #1 (NB NE SE, Sec 36, T2N, R3W, Baton Rapids Township). Five of the seven producers drilled in the pool were in Ingham County, four townships had wells in the reef. Nearly 14 billion cubic feet of gas had been produced from Baton Rapids 36 through the end of June, 1985, five wells were on production at that time.

Amoco also scored with the second Baton Niagaran discovery, a pool eventually classified as an oil field. Michigan's Oil & Gas News scout records from 1972 called the Amoco Miller Dairy Farms # 1 (SE NE SW, Sec 35, Baton Rapids Township), located one and one-quarter miles west of the Section 36 discovery, a "semi-wildcat."

Mobil Oil Corporation successfully offset Amoco's initial discovery in Baton Rapids 36 with four wells before drilling their own discovery well in Section 8 of Hamlin Township (TIN, R3W), the Wilson #\ (N2 NW SE). The Wilson and another Mobil offset have made more than 400,000 barrels oil.

Early exploration for Eaton County reefs was dominated by the majors and large independents. Shell Oil Company was credited with the fourth reef discovery in 1973 in Eaton Rapids 17. The nearly 2.5 billion cubic feet natural gas produced by the two wells in the pool (one currently active) is the third highest cumulative total in the county.

Smaller independents did manage to get a foothold against the majors early on. First independent discovery was by Kulka & Schmidt in 1974, the Hamlin 8A oil pool. Kulka & Schmidt also scored in Hamlin 22 and Eaton Rapids 7 (both with joint operator Michigan Oil) in 1977 and Brookfield 2, in 1979. Also successful was Jackson-based Glynn Trolz, responsible for the Hamlin 12 discovery in 1977 and operator of one of the six offsets to the Eaton Rapids 36 discovery.

Niagaran pools in Eaton Rapids and Hamlin Townships attracted the majority of the early exploration and drilling activity in Eaton County and continue dominate in both number of reservoirs and production. From 1972 to 1976, 14 of 15 reef discoveries in Baton County were in the two-township area. The last ten years has seen reef discoveries in Brookfield (four fields) and Eaton (three fields) Townships, but 47 of 55 pools discovered to date are in either Eaton Rapids or Hamlin Townships.

Most oil production from a single Niagaran reservoir has come from the three wells in the Hamlin 5 Field, making nearly 1,020,000 barrels through the first half of 1985, almost doubling the total for the next highest producer, the five-well Eaton Rapids 20 Field. Mobil's Long-Pricco Unit #1 was discovery well of Hamlin 5, a Mobil offset had initial test production of more than 1,000 barrels per day oil. The third well was drilled by Patrick Petroleum (now operated by Ladd Petroleum). Consumers Power Company discovered Baton Rapids 20, drilled an offset, and was joined in the reef by Amoco (two wells) and Mobil (one well).

The county's most recent discoveries have come in Brookfield, Eaton and Eaton Rapids Townships. Amoco completed two discoveries in January, 1984, one gas and one oil. The Jones Unit 2-7B (BHL: SE SW SW, Sec 6, Eaton Rapids Township) tested two million cubic feet per day gas initially, with the Oliver Unit 1-24A (BHL: SE NW NE, Sec 24, Brookfield Township) making 200 barrels per day oil on test.

Mt. Pleasant-based independents recorded the other two reef discoveries in 1984, Michigan Petroleum Exploration's Smith Unit 1-9 (NW NW SE, Sec 9, Eaton Rapids Township) had a calculated absolute open flow of 22 million cubic feet per day gas during tests and L & G Drilling tested nearly 300 barrels per day oil on their Oliver et al 1-24 (SE NE NW, Sec 24, Brookfield). The L & G well was permitted as an offset to the Amoco discovery earlier in the year, but apparently found a new reef.

Smith Petroleum completed the first of two Niagaran reef gas discoveries in Section 16 of Eaton Rapids Township in the last 14 months in January of 1985. They tested 1.25 million cubic feet natural gas per day on choke on the Riley 3-16 (NW SE NW). An official field designation has not been made by the state, but according to Smith, their Riley 3-16 (BHL: SE SW NE), completed in January, 1986, drilled a virgin reef. Their latest discovery flowed 1.5 million cubic feet per day natural gas on choke.

After having its petroleum history focused almost entirely on its southeast corner, some other areas or Baton County's 572 square miles are beginning to get some attention at the beginning of only the third decade of production for the Southern Michigan county.

Eaton County's position along the Southern Michigan Niagaran Reef Trend has played a major role in commercial oil and gas production in the county. The first commercial reef reservoir found in 1971 was a Niagaran gas producer and the 32 reservoirs found in the 1970s and 25 more in the 1980s were all Niagaran oil or gas (or both) producers. All but one of those were found in the four township area of Eaton (T2N, R4W), Eaton Rapids (T2N, R3W), Hamlin (TIN, R3W) and Brookfield (TIN, R4W).

The lone exception to that southeast Eaton County production list is just to the west where the Walton 34-1N-5W Niagaran reservoir was opened in 1975 and produced for two years before being abandoned. With a resurgence in Southern Michigan Niagaran Reef Trend interest to the east of Baton in Ingham, Livingston and Oakland counties, more Niagaran work is expected in Eaton in many of the same areas explored in the past.

The interest in the 1990s though seems to be building in the "other three quarters" of the county, for targets below the Niagaran.

Amoco Production Company put Eaton County high on many conversation lists with a 1988 deep wildcat, moving a completion rig onto the Arnold Unit 1-8 (SW NE NE, Sec 8, T4N. R5W, Roxand Township) before finally abandoning the hole. The deep test went to the Trempealeau Formation at a total depth of 6,770 feet with shows in several zones and completion work in the Reed City Dolomite.

Now Cobra Oil and Gas Corporation, based in Wichita Falls, Texas, has one deep test permitted and another applied for in Kalamo Township, T2N, R6W on the west side of Eaton County. The Ripley 1-16 (SW SE SW, Sec 16) and the McElmurry 1-33 (SW SW SW, Sec 33) are each aimed at the Prairie du Chien at 5,350 feet. Only four holes, all dry, have been drilled in Kalamo Township in Sections 9,25, 32 and 34.

To the south, Eaton's first field designation was awarded to the Olivet Field, where a Trenton/Black River reservoir was identified in 1969 with 340 barrels of oil before being abandoned in 1971. In 1978 the A-l Carbonate Pool discovery of the Olivet Field was credited to Fortuna Oil Company on its James C. Kellogg 3-24 (NW SE SE, Sec 24, TIN, R6W, Bellvue Township). Fortuna had drilled the first Olivet Field hole, the James C. Kellogg 1 (SE SE SE, Sec 24), on trend with the Albion-Scipio to the south in Calhoun County and had encouraging signs but failed to find commercial volumes.

The average of nearly two wells per square mile was inflated by the concentration of drilling in the southeast quarter. Offsetting that busy area are the top two rows of townships, where that eighttownship area has seen only 12 holes and no production.

Depending on the Niagaran reservoirs, Eaton County climbed to a respectable llth place for natural gas production on tallies through 1988, from only 27 gas producing wells. For oil production, Eaton ranked 31st through 1988 with output from a total of 59 wells- By June 30,1990 oil had reached 5,471,622 barrels and gas was at 49,578,264 Mcf.

Overall, Eaton has seen 307 holes drilled by the end of 1990 and 220 of those were dry holes. While other counties in the Michigan Basin were posting impressive well numbers torn shallow Devonian era rocks, early wildcats in Eaton dating back to a Dundee try in 1936 as the first recorded hole were largely disappointing and didn't result in oil or gas production. In the early 1980s Eaton was attracting considerable interest and saw 23 holes drilled in both 1982 and 1983 before having another 20 drilled in 1985. But with little new success, drilling dropped to 12 in 1986 and finished the 1980s with 7,11 and 6 before only seeing 3 drilled to start the 1990s.

With little new reserves being added, production has been declining slowly. In 1983 Eaton County led the Southern Niagaran Reef Trend with 3,646,294 Mcf of natural gas produced for the calendar year and chipped in another 516,104 barrels of oil. In 1989 the annual gas production dropped under a billion cubic feet for the first time in a decade at 984,683 Mcf and oil was at 146,927 barrels, down from 161,859 the previous year.

Leading the oil producing reservoirs is Eaton County's only one-million-plus-barrel pool. Mobil Oil Corporation opened the Hamlin 5-1N-3W Field in 1975 with the Long-Pricco Unit #1 (SW SE SW, Sec 5, TIN, R3W, Hamlin Township), tested at 140 barrels in three hours and 720 barrels per day. As of the end of 1989 the reservoir had produced 1,165,793 barrels of oil and another 1,829,723 Mcf gas from four wells.

Finding areas of Eaton where there hasn't been drilling isn't very hard and that untapped acreage is in line to drilled for a possible answer or two.

Selected materials on this page copyright 1991 by Michigan Oil & Gas News, Incorporated.