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|Total wells drilled through 1987||437|
|Total oil wells drilled through 1987||46|
|Total gas/facility wells drilled through 1987||103|
|Well density - approximately one well per square mile (566 square miles in county)|
|Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through December 31, 1984||1,217,055 bbls.*|
|Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1984||14,184,607 Mcf.*|
*Latest cumulative figures available by county.
ITHACA - Located smack in the geographical center of Michigan's Lower Peninsula "mitten," Gratiot County was one of the first areas in the state to produce oil and gas and is the site of the state's deepest hole, but has had to watch as other neighboring counties blossomed with production while Gratiot enjoyed little hydrocarbon success.
When Michigan first began to wake up to the fact that commercial quantities of oil and/or gas might be found - in 1925 with a Berea play in Saginaw County - Gratiot was included in the early focus and boasted an oil field discovery in 1927 and a gas discovery in 1928 at a time when most of the state hadn't even seen a spudder.
Gratiot County is just west of Saginaw County, where commercial oil development in Michigan started. To the north Midland and Isabella County saw prolific fields develop and production increase to spur more than 1,500 holes each and Montcalm to the west saw more than 1,200 holes. Except for a brief flurry in the 1940's, when four new fields were opened, Gratiot has been calm and has not had a discovery since a one-well field was found in 1956 and abandoned in 1958. Only 437 holes had been drilled through the end of 1987.
Gratiot County's main claim to fame and its major contribution to Michigan oil and gas exploration began June 2, 1974 when the granddaddy of Michigan's deep hole play was spudded. McClure Oil Company President Harold McClure originally aimed the Sparks 1-8 (NE SW NW, Sec 8, T10N, R2W, North Stai Township) at the 11,000-foot mark below the Trenton.
By the time the hole was plugged 21 months later, a record Michigan depth of 17,466 feet had been attained, old theories about the Michigan Basin basement disproved and geologists given a new set of geological facts about the state's deep formations to base subsequent deep tests upon. McClure's openness on the hole was a direct contrast to today's tite hole status on nearly all deep holes. Amoco Production Company joined the project for the last approximately 3,000 feet. The final 5,000 feet of drilling was largely in a red, sandy shale first encountered at 12,193 feet. Even while drilling, coring, or other testing, the site had the welcome mat out and regularly shared progress reports with the Oil & Qas News and the project's many followers.
What was labeled "the most important hole East of the Mississippi" and may have been the most important in the nation in the mid-1970's, revealed a wealth ofdownhole information to be studied and applied to the successful deep hole drilling which opened Prairie du Chien Sands production in 1981 and has developed into a full-fledged play with more than 60 successful wells.
A team of scientists, headed by Dr. Herb Wang of the University of Wisconsin, ran many tests on the hole, funded by a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant. Some of the people involved in the hole were still involved in the deep play five years or more later when some of McClure's theories began to pay off.
Especially noteable was the cooperation shown by residents of Ithaca and Gratiot County for McClure's efforts to lease a large tract in the area in case the hole was successful.
While the Sparks 1-8 has helped deep exploration in many other counties, Gratiot has yet to see any followup deep drilling in what is still a fledgling play. But much of the drilling has been through known producing structures and the county has six of those in 566 square miles with only the Sparks hole drilled to test the deeper formations.
Of the eight pools which have produced oil or gas in Gratiot, six are abandoned, one has only one active well and the final field has accounted for most of the oil production in the county - 1,160,085 barrels of the 1,216,295 barrels produced all time through 1984.
The big producer in Gratiot has been the Summer Field, discovered in 1953 with Traverse production on a play started by I.W. Hartman. Hartman farmed the project out to The Moco and on September 30, 1953 The Moco spudded the Myron Potter 1 (SW SE NE, Sec 11, T11N, R4W, Sumner Township) as the discovery well of the field. The hole had oil shows between 2,852 and 2,871 and pump tested 70 barrels of oil with little water during the first seven days of testing.
The development went on to include 35 wells, mostly drilled by Moco, and 18 of those were still operating at the end of 1984. The only other field still credited as producing in the county is the North Star Field, discovered in 1940 by Vie R. Wilson on the E.
Cook 1 (N SE NE, Sec 4, T10N, R2W, North Star Township) with Michigan Stray gas production of 1,100,000 cubic feet per day tested from a pay zone of 873-877 feet. Subsequent offsets failed the following year and another try in 1946 by McClure Drilling on the Dundee prospect, the Gager 1 (SW SW SW, Sec 4) also was dry.
Gratiot County's involvement in the oil and gas exploration history of the state dates back to the 1920's. On November 28, 1927 Permit Number 000012 was issued to Horrie Oil Company for the Horrie No. 1 (SE NE, Sec 22, T9N, R1W, Elba Township), the discovery well of the Traverse-producing Elba Field.
Eight producing wells were completed in the field, finally abandoned in 1962 after producing 42,925 barrels of oil, and the success led to a 1928 discovery of a gas pool of the Elba Field. Sun Oil Company used Permit Number 000104 on the Kerr No. 1 (SE SW SE, Sec 9) for the Michigan Stray gas discovery and 10 producing wells dotted the field until the last one was abandoned in 1957.
Gratiot did not fare so well in the 1930's and while exploration focused on Muskegon, Isabella, Midland and others, the third field or new pool discovery did not happen until 1940 with the opening of the North Star Field, the first of four field discovery wells drilled in the 1940's - spurred by a resurgence of interest in the Michigan Basin County.
In 1942 the Pine River Field was opened by the Chartiers Oil Company on the Emery A. Church No. 1 (NE SE NE, Sec 31, T12N, R3W, Pine River Township) in Northern Gratiot County. The Dundee oil discovery well and one development well produced 13,285 barrels of crude oil and led to several dry holes in the area before the field was abandoned in 1956.
In 1943, the Newark Field was discovered in Section 25 of New Haven Township with Michigan Stray gas production on the Rudd- McLaren No. 1 (NW SE NW, Sec 25, T10N, R4W, New Haven Township) for Harper & Turner Company and Sohio Petroleum Company. Six Michigan Stray gas wells produced 450,592 Mcf before being abandoned in 1968.
Seville Township's first producing pool and the second discovery of the 1950's was the one-well Traverse oil pool found by The Moco in 1956 on the Sumner Hoxie No. 1 (SE SE NE, Sec 36, T12N, R4W, Seville Township). The pool was credited to the Pine River Field but only one well was ever completed and that hole was abandoned in 1958 after producing 760 barrels of oil.
Gratiot County's biggest hydrocarbon project is the Shaver Gas Storage Field, on the southern edge of Sumner Township and northern part of New Haven. The Michigan Stray gas field was discovered in 1935 and produced 11,337,204 Mcf of gas before being turned into a gas storage reservoir in 1958 with 12 billion cubic feet of capacity.
While the recent deep gas exploration in Michigan has centered in the western, eastern and northern portions of the state, Gratiot is oneof several "center of the Basin" counties already touched by seismic and some activity has begun.
The most recent hole drilled was by Union Oil Company of California, on the Wiles 1-34 (SWSWSE, Sec 34, T10N, R4W, New Haven Township) to the Richfield Zone at a driller's total depth of 3,672 feet before being abandoned as a dry hole in July, 1986.
In late 1986, Northwestern Natural Gas reentered a hole drilled by Amoco Production Company in 1980 as part ofAmoco's attempt to test for Antrim Formation gas in southern and central Michigan. The Franich 1-28 (NE SE SW, Sec 28, T10N, R2W, North Star Township) was drilled to 2,542 feet in 1980 by Amoco and then re-entered in 1986 - finishing dry both times.
With half of the county's 16 townships having fewer than 20 holes each (and most of those shallow tries from the pre-1950 activity), Gratiot County offers much unexplored acreage and the potential to fulfill Harold McClure's dream of deep production from the center of the Lower Peninsula.
Selected materials on this page copyright 1991 by Michigan Oil & Gas News, Incorporated.
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