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Lake County Information

Lake County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Lake County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through December 31, 1987 223
Total oil wells drilled through December 31, 1987 51
Total gas wells drilled through December 31, 1987 1
Total dry holes drilled through December 31, 1987 162
Well Density - approximately one well per three square miles (577 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil production through December 31, 1984 1,906,248 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1984 0 *

* Most recent period for which complete production records are available. Source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Division Statistical Summary No. 38.

BALDWIN - The best-kept secret in the Michigan oilpatch may be Lake County - surrounded by seven counties boasting extensive oil and gas production, but ranking a lowly 37th for all-time oil production among Michigan counties and without a single cubic foot of natural gas commercial production.

Lake County has escaped the Michigan oilpatch spotlight almost completely, except for a brief flurry in the early 1940's and again in the mid-1960's, and since 1974 has had only four fields producing with a total of 21 wells. By comparison, Otsego County about 100 miles northeast gets more than 20 wells drilled and completed every couple weeks.

While Lake County may never catch its high-producing neighbors, the Western Michigan county does offer vast unexplored areas in its 577 square miles, drilled only at a rate of one hole for approximately each three square miles. Geologically, most of the drilling has been to shallow Traverse and Reed City Formation targets and only four holes have been drilled in the last 10 years.

There have been only 12 holes (all dry) drilled in Yates Township and the deepest anyone has drilled in the township was in 1942 when C.L. Maguire, Inc. went to 3,510 feet on the Sylvester Horojko 1 (SW SE SW, Sec 2) on a dry hole.

Shell Western E & P, Inc., one of the State's leaders in the deep gas play has been the only operator to drill a deep test in Lake County, grabbing the depth record with a 10,260-foot hole in Ellsworth Township.

Shell's Ware 1-25 (NW NE SE, Sec 25, T19N, R11W, Ellsworth Township) used the east half of Section 25 and the west half of Section 30, T19N, R10W, Leroy Township in Osceola County. The hole reached td on October 21, 1987 and had shows in several zones and drill stem tests in the Clinton and Prairie du Chien but no gas or oil to the surface.

While Lake County's history may not be as marked by successes as many of the other Michigan Basin oil and/or gas producing areas, the exploration history dates back longer than most - to a 1928 permit, Number 124.

The first permit issued for Lake County was the 124th issued by the Geological Survey Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and was for Fred J. Estes' Kellogg No. 1 (NW NW, Sec 11, T20N, R11W, Dover Township), a dry hole plugged in 1930.

One of the earliest holes to give an indication of hydrocarbon production was Strange & Fortney's Patterson & Day No. 1 (SW NE SW, Sec 19, T18N, R12W, Cherry Valley Township), drilled to 3,153 feet on a permit issued in 1929. Notes on the well card from Michigan's Oil & Gas News files indicate 24 gallons of oil a day at 3,150 and 1,000,000 cubic feet of gas at 3,153 feet after reaching the top of the Dundee at 3,104 feet, before being plugged.

The first commercial success in Lake County wasn't until March 25, 1942 when William P. Shoemaker reached total depth on his Oscar Matson 1 (NE SE NW, Sec 16, T19N, R14W, Sauble Township), the discovery well of the Traverse-producing Sauble Field.

The well flowed 400 barrels in the first 48 hours without the benefit of casing and couldn't be tested when first completed due to weather conditions.

Shoemaker and his wife controlled 14,000 acres in the area of the Sauble strike and many envisioned a play the magnitude of the Reed City Field. Successes in the field were limited to five wells and production reached only 146,694 barrels of crude oil through the end of 1984.

The second discovery, before a 22-year lull in success for Lake County, was in the southeast corner of the county, next to Osceola County's prolific Reed City Field. Ashby Drilling and Freeman Oil combined on the Castlebar 1 (NW NW NW, Sec 29, T17N, R1 1W, Chase Township) drilled as a Monroe or Dundee prospect. After coming up dry in the target formations, the hole was plugged back to the Berea and began producing five to eight barrels per day.

The rest of the 1940's, all of the 1950's and the first half of the decade of the 1960's were dry hole times for Lake County, often while discovery after discovery was made in surrounding counties. The Sauble Field proved disappointing with only five producing wells and only two were completed in the Chase Field.

The 1960's finally brightened and brought three discoveries for Lake County, including the Peacock Field's Traverse Formation reservoir and its 27 wells one million plus oil output as a highlight of 1966.

The first of three mid-1960's successes was by Moco (Bill Mesel) on the Hoover Heirs 1 (SW SE SW, Sec 14, T19N, R12W, Newkirk Township opening the Luther Field. The Traverse Formation well provided added excitement because of its position 14 miles northwest of the Reed City Field, where the Traverse, Dundee and Reed City zones all produce. Despite a strong early flow the well tailed off and remained a one-well field with production of 28,117 barrels before being abandoned in 1973.

The Peacock Field followed in 1966 when Miller Brothers and McClure Oil completed the USA 1 (SE SE NW, Sec 7, T19N, R13W, Peacock Township) as the discovery the Reed City Pool Tests only reached 10 bpd level and the one-well field accounted for only 21,411 barrels of oil before being abandoned in 1974.

Lake County's top field, the Peacock Field then yielded oil from a Traverse Pool later in 1966 for Cook Brothers and Consumers Power on the John Hannon 1 (SW NW SE, Sec 9), which flowed 72 barrels on a three-hour test after 500 gallons of acid.

The decision was made to test a small show in the Traverse on what was a Reed City prospect and the early production rate if 40 barrels per day attracted enough drilling, mostly by Cook Brothers and Consumers, to total 27 producers and 1,060 acres. Production at the end of 1984 reached 1,694,892 barrels as the only million barrel field in the county.

The final field discovery (Luther, North) to date for Lake County was in 1970 when Bermax Oil Company connected on what was to become a four-well Reed City zone reservoir, discovered with the Konarski 1 (NW NW NW, Sec 8, T19N, Rl 1W, Ellsworth Township). Four wells were still producing at the end of 1984 and had accounted for 21,411 barrels of crude oil.

When the dry spell which began in 1970 will be broken is anyone's guess. Prom 1978 through 1987 only four holes were drilled and three of those were in 1987 and the other in 1986.

One strong indication that Lake County is in for some additonal drilling activity is the amount of acreage leased recently. In the November, 1986 State Lease Sale, most of the acreage (38,841 acres) was located in Lake County and all but a small number of parcels were succesfully bid upon at prices ranging up to $420 per acre.

Yates Township led off the sale with three parcels and set the tone for some strong bidding in Lake County. Peninsular Oil & Gas took 20 acres in the west half of the SW NE Section 16 at $230 per acre, Roger A. Soape, Inc. bid $210 an acre for the northwest quarter of Section 26 and Peninsular came back for the east half of the SE Section 28 at the $420 per acre mark.

Pleasant Plains Township, T17N, R13W, hit the $100 plus per acre mark on bids in Sections 4-9 and Lake, Cherry Valley, Ellsworth, Newkirk and Sauble each hit the $100-plus mark per acre on bidding.

Any major exploration moves in Lake County would depend on State and/or Federal leases. Nearly two-thirds of the acreage in the County is State or Federally controlled, especially the western half.

Vast areas of Lake County remain completely unexplored and only a few holes have been drilled below the Reed City zone of the Dundee Formation. Lake Township in the southwest comer of the County has only seen one hole drilled while Webber, Pleasant Plains and Eden Townships have two holes each. In addition, Sweetwater has had only live holes drilled, Dover six. Elk seven and Ellsworth Township a total of 13.

The only other production in Lake County is in Pinora Township, where the Reed City Field extends from Lincoln Township, T18N, R10W, Osceola County.

Besides the Shell deep test in Ellsworth Township, the two most recent holes drilled in Lake County were by Lomex Oil and Gas in the northeast comer of Chase Township, T17N, R11W. The WPEN 1-11 (NW NE NW, Sec 11) was an early 1987 prospect which had shows in the Traverse Lime at 3,092 after cabling into the potential pay, but encountered water problems. In 1988, Lomex's Gerald Lutz came back with the Tiel 1-2 (SW NE SW, Sec 2) to 3.127 feet but drilling in the last few feet with a cable tool rig also resulted in a dry hole.

The other recent drilling was a 1986 Reed City zone wildcat by Northern Michigan Exploration Company (NOMECO), the Erickson 1-14 (NW NE SW, Sec 14, T19N, R14W, Sauble Township) dry at 2,265 feet.

Lake County missed out on the Niagaran production from the Northern Niagaran Reef Trend by approximately 20 miles or less and didn't get a lot of the big Devonian and Mississippian fields found to the east, south and west. The hope now may lie in the Prairie du Chien and Clinton, found in other areas of similar geologic location.

The gas production through 1986 surrounding Lake County reads: Manistee 373 billion cubic feet (Bcf), Wexford 36 Bcf, Osceola 53 Bcf, Mecosta 17 Bcf, Newaygo 24 Bcf, Oceana 1 Bcf and Mason 28 Bcf. Oil production figures aren't quite as lopsided, but Lake County's 1,906,248 barrels is still the lowest figure by 5 million barrels and not even in the same ball park as Manistee's 74 million barrels.

With successful deep gas wells in Osceola, Mecosta and Newaygo Counties (and possibly Mason and Wexford) added to the fact that recent seismic and leasing has indicated an interest. Lake County may not be stuck with its lowly oil and gas rankings and may be due for some basking in the exploration success for a change.

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