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Mason County Information

Mason County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Mason County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through December 31, 1985 518
Total oil wells through December 31, 1985 144
Total natural gas wells through December 31, 1985 20
Total facility wells through December 31, 1985 1
Well density - approximately one per square mile (505 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and condensate production through December 31, 1982 6,437,929 bbls*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31,1982 22,909,805 Mcf*

* Latest cumulative figures available by county

LUD1NGTON - Like many other Lower Peninsula Michigan counties lying along the prolific Niagaran Reef Trend, Mason County's all-time production totals have risen rapidly since reef development began in earnest some 15 years ago.

Through the end of 1982, production of approximately 6.5 million barrels oil and condensate and nearly 23 billion cubic feet natural gas have placed Mason twentieth overall in gas production and twenty-eighth in oil production among the 59 hydrocarbon producing counties in the state.

While the majority of oil production in Mason County has been from Devonian-age pays in the Traverse, Dundee and Reed City Formations (69 percent of all oil production through 1982), the area can boast of being home to only the second Niagaran oil producer ever drilled in Michigan, the Dow-Brazos-Taggart Bros. Dow-Brazos Unit 1 in Section 27 of Hamlin Township, T19N, R18W.The 1952discovery of Niagaran oil in Mason followed by one year the first oil reef drilled, Brazos Oil & Gas Company's State Chester "HE" I in Otsego County's Chester Township, T29N, R2W.

With the Otsego hole aimed at the Niagaran all the way, the Mason wildcat was originally drilled by Dow Chemical Company to Cambrian-age rock (total depth was 6,622 feet) as a brine test. Considered a failure as a brine well, the hole had encountered strong gas shows (12 Mmcf per day in a drill stem test) in what the November 21, 1952 issue of the Oil & Gas News called the "basal Salina- Niagaran." After being plugged back to 4,400 feet, the rework resulted in flows of oil from perforations between 4,206 and 4,326 feet.

According to Department of Natural Resources records, the Dow-Brazos Unit 1 produced a total of nearly 61,000 barrels oil before being plugged. Quoting from an Oil & Gas News of 1952, "This may well be one of the most important wells ever drilled in Michigan, and may perhaps open the road to continued exploration for deeper pay horizons in the state." Little did they know.

The first recorded hydrocarbon production from Mason County came in 1929 when the shallowest of all Michigan producing horizons, the Glacial Drift, yielded natural gas in Grant Township. Eight million cubic feet of gas was produced before the last of three wells in the field were plugged in 1955. Also pre-dating Mason County's first oil production was another relatively small natural gas play, with two wells in the Logan Field making a total of 13 million cubic feet gas following a 1941 discovery.

No new discoveries were made during the war years, but things broke wide open when a mid-1948 Superior Oil Company wildcat drilled into good oil pay in the Traverse at 1,682 feet in Section 26 of Eden Township, T17N, R16W. Within four months Superior had tapped into both the Reed City and Dundee in Eden Township, testing flows of up to 60 barrels per hour from the Dundee discovery. The county's first oil field remains its largest, both in terms of number of wells (53 drilled, 34 still producing in 1982) and oil production, with more than 3.1 million barrels oil produced, or nearly half of the county's cumulative production through the end of 1982.

The majority of Eden Field wells (38 of 53) were completed in the Dundee Pool, the only Dundee reservoir to be successfully produced in the county. Deepest Devonian oil pay in the county has been the Reed City, about 100 feet below Dundee pay in the Eden Field. Reed City oil was produced from the Scottville Field (Amber Township, T18N, R17W), discovered in 1961 with Traverse production and in the one well Fountain Field (Sherman Township, T19N, R16W), discovered in 1970.

Nine years passed after the 1948 Eden discovery, with the next prominent Traverse strike coming in the Riverton Field in 1957 (Riverton Township, T17N, R17W). Other fields to produce Traverse oil beginning in the late 1950's and early 1960's were: Victory Section 10; Oxbow (Riverton Township); Wiley (Eden Township, T17N, R16W) and Riverton Section 21. The last Traverse discovery came in Section 35 of Riverton Township with the St. Mary's Lake Field.

Associated with the Devonian production history of Mason is the county's all-time record deep hole. Superior Oil Company's Mabel Sippy et al 17 (NE SW SW, Sec 25, Eden Township), drilled to a total depth of 7,249 feet in the Cambrian. Tests of several deeper zones on the 1954 Eden Field deeper pool test were unsuccessful, the hole was eventually completed for oil in the Dundee.

Despite having the second Niagaran oil well in the state in 1952, Mason County had to wait for nearly 20 years before another reef pool was discovered. Miller Brothers & Total turned the trick in the summer of 1972, testing more than 300 barrels per day oil on the Malstrom & Williams et al 1 -13 (NE NE SW, Sec 13, Hamlin Township, T19N, R18W).

Miller Brothers has dominated the reef play in Mason County, being responsible for all but three of the county's 19 reef discoveries. Besides the 1952 pioneer well, Shell Oil Company's discoveries of the Victory 5- 19N-17W Gas Pool in 1974 and the Victory 7- 19N- 17W Gas Pool a year earlier have been the only non-Miller Brothers reef finds. Miller Brothers currently operates all of Mason County's producing Niagaran wells, with some jointly operated by Total Petroleum and the Wiser Oil Company.

With Niagaran production accounting for approximately 31 percent of Mason County's all-time oil production, the nine Niagaran gas pools have accounted for 98 percent of county natural gas production, through the end of 1982. Eventually adding to that figure should be the most recent reef discovery in the county. Miller Brothers' Carnage! 1-32 (BHL: SE SW SE, Sec 32, T20N, R17W, Grant Township), drilled in 1985. The furthest north of the successful reef wells in the county, the Carnagel 1-32 tested one million cubic feet per day gas, with a calculated absolute open flow of 137 million cubic feet per day. The gas has 550 grains per 100 cubic feet hydrogen sulfide and is currently shut-in.

The most prolific of the Niagaran oil pools, which are clustered in the eastern side of Hamlin Township and the western side of Victory Township, has been the first of the modern fields, the Hamlin 13-19N-18W, with 745,190 barrels produced through the end of 1985. Three wells in the Hamlin 25-19N- 18W Pool, the second 1972 reef find, have cumulative production of 470,241 barrels through 1985. Third highest oil production from a Niagaran reef is the third discovery of 1972, the Victory 19-19N-17W Field. Two wells there have made a total of 339,552 barrels oil.

Several Niagaran reservoirs have cumulative production of more than one billion cubic feet natural gas, with the highest alltime figure being the 7.8 billion produced by Hamlin 13A-19N-18W, discovered in 1973. The Victory 19A-19N-17W Pool has made 6.6 billion cubic feet, with 3.1 billion cubic feet gas produced from Hamlin 25.

Making headlines in the general press in the past few months has been a plan proposed by Miller Brothers to develop potential Niagaran reef pays in an approximately 4,000-acre area north of Ludington State Park and Hamlin Lake along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Miller Brothers holds oil & gas leases on the majority of privately-owned minerals underlying the Nordhouse Dunes Area, but ownership of the surface lands remains largely in the hands of the federal government, being severed from the minerals in years past.

Miller Brothers have conducted seismic surveys in the area in cooperation with the United States Forest Service for at least 15 years, and say their rights and the rights of the mineral owners would be infringed upon were they not allowed to test the potential of the area. Environmentalists are attempting to block development, fearing drilling and related activities would destroy the "wilderness" qualities of the dunes and surrounding areas. Forest Service and Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel are currently conducting studies in an environmental assessment of the area and potential impacts of hydrocarbon development.

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