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Grand Traverse County Information

Grand Traverse County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Grand Traverse County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through December 31, 1987 1383
Total oil wells drilled through December 31, 1987 231
Total gas wells drilled through December 31, 1987 157
Total facility wells drilled through December 31, 1987 11
Total dry holes drilled through December 31, 1987 984
Well density - approximately two wells per square mile (490 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through December 31, 1987 47,860,204 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1987 451,950,156 Mcf*

* Compiled from Geological Survey Division cumulative and prorated production statistics.

TRAVERSE CITY - A relative newcomer to the Michigan oil and gas production picture. Grand Traverse County has quickly moved up among the state's production leaders, some of which had a 40-year head start.

Grand Traverse County straddles the prolific Northern Niagaran Reef Trend, a geological phenomenon consisting of sporatically located pinnacle reef structures trapping hydrocarbons in the Salina-Niagaran Formations generally at depths of 5,000 to 7,000 feet in the eight townships contributing Grand Traverse County production.

The exploration has been so successful that, despite the "new-kid-on-the block" status of the county's production, Grand Traverse leads the all-time list of 46 natural gas producing counties. The county has cumulative gas production of 340,197,286 Mcf through 1983. The industry generally takes a greater interest in oil exploration, and Grand Traverse has moved up the list of 59 oil producing counties at a fast pace in the less-than-15 year span since the first reef discovery in the county, currently holding the 12th spot. Grand Traverse has produced a cumulative total of 35,804,150 barrels of oil through the end of 1983.

The first successful commercial oil or gas well drilled in Grand Traverse County was in 1969 with McClure Oil Company as operator and Shell and Pan American also involved. The State Union 1 (C NE SE, Sec 12, T26N, R9W, Union Township) initially tested strong gas production, but soon developed problems. The well produced only 1,103 barrels of oil, and was never hooked up to a gas pipeline.

Despite the fact that the first successful Niagaran producer did not have outstanding production to ignite industry interest, the green flag as waved and exploration in Grand Traverse County led the way through most of the 1970's.

By the end of 1981, there had been 140 separate reservoirs discovered, all but two in the Salina-Niagaran group of formations. The high level of activity has continued, with Grand Traverse County in a class of its own in 1982 with 117 completions compared with 72 for runner-up Manistee. In 1983, Grand Traverse came back strong with 108 wells completed, second only to Isabella's 112.

For the 10-year span beginning in 1974 and ending at the close of 1983, Michigan has seen 6,320 well completions and it's an easy guess which county leads the way . . . Grand Traverse. There were 904 G.T. completions in that span to lead among the 65 Michigan counties which were included as having exploration activity (including six holes drilled in Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula). Far back as the second most active county was Manistee with 775 holes for the same span.

When much of the Northern Niagaran Reef Fairway activity centered around Manistee, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska and Otsego Counties and the surge of activity in the 1970's helped Traverse City become a center for oilfield-related services as well as home base for a number of exploration companies. Everything from well completion to directional drilling is available.

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission is one of the benefactors of the industry in the county by having a producing well on the GTCRC property. The City of Traverse City began receiving income in late July from two wells drilled on the city-owned Brown Bridge Dam Property in East Bay Township. When city officials first considered leasing the property for oil exploration it was put to a vote of the residents and received voter approval. Talk has been of using the funds to help reduce taxes by putting funds generated from the wells (the city gets one-fourth of the 150 barrels per day the two wells are now each producing) into the Brown Bridge Trust Fund and investing it in treasury bills.

Mayfield Township on the southern tier of townships has been the busiest for activity and success with 45 fields or reservoirs discovered through 1981. Following the Niagaran Trend's northwest to northeast angle. Paradise Township to the north and east has 26 Fields and furthur northeast finds Union with 24. Grant Township had registered 20 fields by the end of 1981, but was a hotbed of drilling activity in late 1983 and early 1984.

There are only two non-Niagaran Fields listed by the DNR and neither lists any production. In 1965 the Paradise 25 Field was discovered with Traverse Formation production and Antrim Formation production was dicovered in the Mayfield 33 Field Pool A.

With its strong list of producing Niagaran fields. Grand Traverse County has not needed Antrim, or Traverse help to make it a strong force in Michigan's production picture. And with the improvements in secondary recovery already implemented in some of the older reservoirs. Grand Traverse is likely to hold onto its crown as King of the Northern Reef Trend.

Through the end of 1987, Grand Traverse County has produced 47,860,204 barrels of crude oil and climbed into sixth place on the list (final figures for all 60 oil-producing counties was not available at press time).

On the gas production side, wells in Grand Traverse had produced 340,197,286 Mcf of natural gas as the leading county among 46 with natural gas production through 1983. By the end of 1987 the Northeast Lower Peninsula leader had pushed the cummulative gas output to 451,950,156 Mcf gas (nearly 452 billion cubic feet) of natural gas.

For most of the 1970's and the first half of the 1980's, Grand Traverse earned the moniker of "King of the Northern Niagaran (and Southern for that matter) Reef Trend'' for its strong hold on the top spot in most drilling, permitting and producing statistics. Pick a year from the early 1970's on and odds are that the county was in the top spot or near it in nearly every category dealing with succesful drilling. Grand Traverse County is one of those rare areas where all production comes from a single horizon compared to some counties where several producing formations add to accumulated statistics.

The Antrim may yet play a role in the Grand Traverse County production picture. A boom of Antrim drilling in Otsego County has made that Northern Niagaran Trend neighbor the state's 1987 and early 1988 leader in drilled holes and is steadily adding to the county's gas output. The Antrim play has spread west into Antrim County and southwest into Kalkaska County with Grand Traverse possibly the next step southwest if production is feasible.

The deep play so prevalent across the Michigan Basin but not yet stretching out to the Niagaran Reef Trend also may play a role in Grand Traverse's drilling picture.

Shell Oil Company thought enough of the area's deep fortunes to drill the State Blair 2-24 (SW SE NE, Sec 24, T26N, Rl 1W, Blair Township) to below the Prairie du Chien below 11,020 feet in 1981 - before the state had commercial deep gas production credited to the Prairie du Chien. In 1982 Shell came back with the Weber-Sheren 6-9 (SW SW SE, Sec 9, T25N, Rl 1W, Mayfield Township) and drilled to 8,476 feet with the Jordan Sandstone the deepest formation top picked at 8,064 feet. Both were dry and abandoned, with notes on the State Blair 2-24 citing water problems.

While the Niagaran production in Grand Traverse and Michigan has peaked and exploration is off considerably in Grand Traverse County, the area still holds a lure for exploration and has a number of producing reservoirs qualifying as candidates for secondary recovery.

The Niagaran exploration might have dropped off, but it isn't dead in Grand Traverse. Considerable seismic has been run in the county and new methods of processing and relating the results to reef anomalies may turn up a few missed in the first 18 years of exploration.

Geologists working the area agree that the big reefs are mostly picked off, but also voice the opinion that the hunt isn't over in Grand Traverse.

The county has had some of the state's best Niagaran reefs and some of the top reservoirs even considering all formation.

Eight of the townships in Grand Traverse have production and 12 reservoirs have yielded more than a million barrels of oil through June, 1987 with all 12 of those Niagaran prospects still producing. Four of the 12 have produced more than 2 million barrels of crude oil and at least three others are closing in on that mark.

On the gas side, seven reservoirs have produced more than 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas through June, 1987 and a whopping 95 reservoirs have passed the one billion mark for Niagaran production.

One example of the prolific production from Grand Traverse County's Niagaran is the Grant 13-25N-12W reservoir, discovered in 1974 by Northern Michigan Exploration Company "on the Frank Imhoff #1 (SW SW NW, Sec 13) with a calculated open flow reported of 112 million cubic feet of gas per day with 12 to 20 barrels ofcondensate per million cubic feet. Three wells were completed in the field and all three continue to produce after accounting for 594,877 barrels of condensate and 44,200,290 Mcf of natural gas.

The gas output from the three-well field is overshadowed only by the Albion-Scipio Trend with its 700-plus wells over more than 13,000 acres and by the Six Lakes Gas Field with more than 400 wells and 11,500 acres.

As the leading Niagaran gas reservoir in the State, the Blair 13-25N-12W production passed the Ray Field, now used for gas storage in Macomb County after seeing 49 well completions over 660 acres beginning in 1961.

The Grand Traverse Niagaran reefs have tended to be small in areal extent and usually were produced from one or two wells. In terms of number of wells, the Whitewater 20-27N-9W is GT's largest with nine producers still putting out oil and gas midway through 1987. The 1978 discovered reef reservoir had produced 1,704,735 barrels of oil and 4,189,595 Mcf gas through that period and no wells have been abandoned after being completed in the reservoir. Amoco Production Company was operator on the discovery.

All four two-million-plus barrel producing reservoirs are in Mayfield Township. Mayfield 16-25N-11W is the county's leader with 2,557,604 barrels of crude oil through the first half of 1987 along with 4,136,767 Mcf gas from four wells beginning in 1972. Three wells operate in the Mayfield 17-25N-11W Field good for 2,519,414 barrels of oil and 3,490,914 Mcf gas through the first half of 1987 after discovery in 1974. The Mayfield 18-25N-11W Field started production in 1975 and three wells have produced 2,128,949 barrels of oil and 2,006,387 Mcf gas through June, 1987.

The final big Mayfield reservoir is the Mayfield 16A-25N-11W, added in 1974 and good for 2,034,728 barrels of oil and 1,057,178 Mcf gas by mid-1987 from only two wells.

As recently as 1985, Grand Traverse was the most-drilled county in Michigan. There were 160 completions in the county that year, 40 more than second-place Manistee. The previous year was also a banner drilling year with 164 completions in 1984 while Manistee followed with 122. One week in 1984 12 of the state's 45 rotary rigs were on Grand Traverse locations.

The downturn in oil prices and prospects helped contribute to second place spots in holes drilled for Grand Traverse in both 1986 and 1987 at 43 and 41 respectively.

Even when Grand Traverse County itself isn't hopping with drilling activity, the county feels extensive benefits from the oil and gas industry.

On the economic side, nearly everyone in Traverse City benefits from production of wells located on Brown Bridge Pond property southeast of the city. Besides helping keep taxes down and balance the city budget, the income gives the city a nest egg for emergencies or funding for worthwhile projects from the interest.

Near the State Park in Traverse City, a stretch of beach was purchased through funds from the Michigan Land Trust, built up from monies earned from oil, gas and mineral revenue on state lands.

Besides the many landowners in the county, royalties have aided the Rotary Club, Boy Scouts and even the Grand Traverse County Road Commission was in part of a drilling unit and derived income. If there is a lull in oil and gas activity in Grand Traverse County, no one has noticed it.

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