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Montcalm County Information

Montcalm County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Montcalm County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through 1982 1,513
Total oil wells drilled through 1982 400
Total gas/facility wells drilled through 1982 282
Well density - approximately two wells per square mile (720 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through December 31,1982 19,420,507 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1982 68,657,957 Mcf*

* Latest cumulative figures available by county.

SIX LAKES - In the more than 50 years since discovery of the first commercial petroleum production from Montcalm County, oil from three Devonian-age horizons and gas from the late Mississippian Michigan Stray have been produced in sufficient quantities to rank the west-central Michigan county 18th overall in oil output and eighth in extraction and sale of natural gas, based on cumulative production totals through the end of 1982.

While the story of Montcalm County's hydrocarbon exploration and production history to date was largely written within the first 20 years of its life as an oil and gas producing area, likely expansion of the Central Basin's rapidly growing deep play into Montcalm could add important new chapters in the near future.

The existence of numerous well defined and productive shallow structures seem to make Montcalm an ideal hunting ground for deep gas, should the current exploration trend of concentrating deep efforts in and around the shallower reservoirs continue. The county's first deep test, a I986 probe of the Reynolds structure was plugged and abandoned at a total depth of 8,420 feet in the Trempealeau. A second Reynolds D.P.T. has been permitted and deep tests of both the Entrican and Stanton Fields are thought to be in the planning stages at this writing.

A deep gas play in Montcalm County may be inevitable, but it was a very shallow play, begun in 1934, that put the area on Michigan's gas producing "map," before eventually being converted into the largest gas storage field in the state.

Natural gas pay was found at 1,270 feet in the Michigan Stray Sandstone in Section II of Belvidere Township (T12N, R7W), opening the Six Lakes Field as what proved to be the second-most prolific natural gas reservoir in Michigan history, behind only all-time oil and gas production leader Albion- Scipio-Pulaski. Though Six Lakes production ended in 1953 with the reservoir's conversion to gas storage by Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, the cumulative gas production total of more than 52 billion cubic feet presently seems challenged by that of only one field, the still active Grant 13-25N-12W Niagaran reef reservoir, which has produced more than 44 billion cubic feet gas through the end of 1986.

Through 1981 a total of 404 producing and gas storage facility wells had been drilled in Six Lakes, approximately one-half of them across the Montcalm-Mecosta County line in Millbrook (T13N, R7W) and Hinton (T13N, R8W) Townships. At the end of 1981, 194 of the wells were in active use in the storage reservoir.

A year before the Six Lakes find and five miles to the east, the actual beginning of Montcalm County's petroleum history was marked by completion of the first commercial oil producer in Section 10 of Home Township (T12N, R6W). The Edmore Field's discovery well drilled four feet of limestone pay in the Traverse Formation at a depth of 3,102 feet, opening a reservoir that was to become the county's fourth largest oil producer.

The discoveries at Six Lakes and Edmore in '33 and '34 were to be only a prelude to the excitement that would be generated by Montcalm's first (and as history now shows, only) major Dundee strike. The Crystal Field came on like a lion, as was common for Dundee oil Finds of the day, with J.W. Leonard, Jr.'s Durbin #1 (NW NW ME, Sec 11, TION, R5W, Crystal Township) blowing off a control head and shooting 44 gravity crude oil high into the air March 28, 1935.

Production rates extrapolated from flow tests of short duration after the well had been brought under control indicated it was capable of producing nearly 4,000 barrels per day, according to the April 4, 1935 issue of the Michigan Oil and Gas News.

Under the banner headline, BOOM. SWEEPS FIELD, the forerunner of today's Michigan Oil & Gas News described how quickly a big gusher could attract oilmen from near and far: Following with rapier swiftness in the wake of Montcalm County's sensational new Cyrstal well, came reports of five new locations either started or scheduled to start momentarily within striking distance of the Durbin discovery. Keep in mind that this report was published only seven days after first word of the strike.

Local excitement over the new oil field was anything but subdued after then State Geologist R.A. Smith told a gathering of 1,000 area residents "I think Carson City will be the center of oil operations for a good many years." Predictions made during Crystal's early development that the field would rival or better a contemporary. Midland County's Porter Field, in both size and oil output would be shown by time to be false (Porter eventually encompassed more than 6,700 acres, with production topping 50 million barrels by the 1980s compared to 2,000 acres and nearly eight million barrels for Crystal).

The Crystal Refining Company was built soon after the Held was opened in Carson City, following the refining trend of the day which saw small refinery operations spring up near almost every significant oil strike. Of a maximum of 28 refineries in operation during the 1930s and 40s, the Crystal plant remains as the only one of the small plants (6,200 ban-el per day capacity) to survive, and one of only three refineries still in operation in Michigan by late 1986.

The 1930s would see two more discoveries in Montcalm County, a small Dundee and Reed City pool in Winfield Township (first Reed City production in the county) and the sprawling Edmore-Richland Stray gas pool, whose 47 wells are scattered over nearly 7,000 acres. Edmore-Richland became Montcalm's second largest gas producer with cumulative production of more than nine billion cubic feet.

The United States was at war in Europe before new finds would be recorded in Montcalm County, the biggest of the latewar openers were (T9N, R5W) in Bloomer and Cato Townships (T12N, R8W). The Cato Field's Reed City play developed in the immediate vicinity of discovery well in Section 9, Cato Township, while the Bloomer Field was extended south into North Plains Township (T8N, R5W) of lonia County. Also discovered in 1944 was a Dundee pool which stepped out from the Edmore Traverse structure, and was given one of the more colorful names in Michigan's petroleum past. Belly Achers.

Nearly ten years passed without significant new discoveries in Montcalm, but early 1954 drilling in Section 1 of Reynolds Township (T12N, R10W) set the stage for what was to become the county's second largest oil producing field. McClure Oil, operating with partners Swan-King Oil Company and Basin Oil Company, keyed off evidence of a Traverse reef and good porosity in the Reed City horizon in a 1937 step-out from the Winfield Field to the southeast.

The 1937 wildcat had been drilled four years before the Reed City zone would first yield commercial oil pay in the Reed City Field, but the clues it provided in Montcalm County were invaluable. The Reed City pay zone in the Reynolds Field discovery was encountered only 93 feet below the top of the Dundee Limestone and was described in an Oil & Gas News story as a "brown crystalline, highly porous dolomite." In reference to the production potential of the McClure Kohn #1 (SE SE NW, Sec 1) discovery, the same news account somewhat boldly stated that "It appears, at the present time, that the well would produce at just about any rate that might be desired." Flow rates of five barrels per hour oil through a "highly restricted choke" and good casing and tubing pressures prompted the optimistic appraisal.

Outside of the Reynolds Field development, exploration in the 1950s and 1960s was most successful in Montcalm County's sparsely-drilled interior, where the Stanton Field (Traverse oil) was found in 1951 and the nearby Entrican Field (Traverse and Dundee oil) was first tapped 15 years later. Stanton proved the more productive of the two structures, with its 18 wells surpassing one million barrels produced in 1980.

The two most recent pool discoveries recognized by the Geological Survey Division have been the four-well Home, Sec. 26 Dundee pool in 1970 and Day, Sec. 13 (Dundee) a year later, whose lone well has not been successfully offset.

Two 1985 wells in Section 30 of Ferris Township (T11N, R5W) stepped out more than a mile from Traverse production in the small Day Field, discovered in 1934, but have been officially classified as part of that pool.

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