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Montmorency County Information

Montmorency County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Montmorency County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through 1989 151
Total oil wells drilled through 1989 10
Total gas wells drilled through 1989 25
Total facility wells drilled through 1989 1
Total dry holes drilled through 1989 115
Well density - approximately four wells per square mile (567 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through December 31, 1988 413,960 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1988 6,858,260 Mcf*

* Includes all production through 1986 plus 1987 and 1988's prorated Niagaran production and deep gas production.

ATLANTA - The bleak outlook for oil and gas exploration facing Montmorency County through the mid-1980's has been completely turned around following new pipeline access and the recent introduction of both shallow and deep plays to go with an expanding Niagaran chase.

The 567 square miles of Montmorency County were left pretty much unexplored from Michigan's first commercial hydro carbon production in the mid-1920's through the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and most of the 1970's. Located in the northeast part of the Lower Peninsula, Montmorency has only approximately one hole drilled for each four square miles with only 151 holes through the end of 1989.

But the county was the only one going into 1989 which could boast current production from both the State's two hottest plays - Antrim and Prairie du Chien gas exploration - in addition to Niagaran. Only three others have had or are likely to have wells on line soon from all three plays.

Montmorency County was the subject of a Petroleum History Profile in the October 24, 1986 issue of Michigan's Oil & Gas News, when only five fields had been discovered and 100 holes drilled. Since that time the number of reservoirs confirmed productive has more than doubled with 11 fields identified and more are likely.

One of the most important new additions was the "Montmorency County-Antrim Field" with its shallow gas production. Because the productive reaches of the Antrim Formation are so widespread, the Geological Survey Division of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not list a single "discovery well" for the field, but the first Antrim gas wells weren't completed in Montmorency until 1988.

The Antrim play is now off and running in 1990 and companies involved in expanding the play eastward from Otsego County predict more Antrim holes this year alone than were drilled all-time to all formations prior to this year.

While the shallow Antrim gas play, with its well depths of between 1,400 and 1,700 in most parts of Montmorency, is likely to be the busiest activity in the County, it was the deep gas play that is opening the door for more extensive expansion of exploration in general.

Montmorency's deep success to date has been confined to the southeast comer of the county, just west of the Fletcher Pond Prairie du Chien (PDC) Pool in Ossineke Township, T29N, R5E, Alpena County. The bigger gas reserves of the deep play led to the construction of a 45-mile line from Alpena County across the southern four townships of Montmorency to a hookup with the wetheader system in Otsego County.

In addition, the wetheader (the main pipeline serving the Northern Niagaran Reef Trend) was extended earlier through the northwest comer of Montmorency and on into Presque Isle County.

Many smaller independents, who weren't interested in finding a well and then having it shut in for an undetermined amount of time, are beginning to show an interest in Montmorency. In addition, the Antrim economics are usually tight enough to require wells to be drilled somewhat near pipeline access.

Despite the fact that the shallow Antrim and deep PDC plays have had - and are expected to have - such a strong impact on the Montmorency exploration picture, the Niagaran remains the county's production leader with 6,817,088 Mcf of natural gas and 399,810 barrels of oil and those figures are climbing as recent wells go on line.

Overall, the County ranked only 50th for oil production based on figures through 1986 plus 1987's and 1988's production from prorated Niagaran wells and deep production with oil output of 413,960 barrels and gas output (38th) to market of 6,858,260 Mcf. By comparison to show the recent Niagaran surge, 1988's figures alone were 143,215 barrels of oil and 4,042,785 Mcf of natural gas for Montmorency, according to GeoSurvey tallies.

The figures for 1989 are not yet available, but should show substantial increases and by the end of 1990 many of the Antrim wells will check in with gas production.

The 1986 Michigan's Oil & Gas News profile labeled Montmorency a "sleeping giant, in a hydrocarbon sense'' and that potential is beginning to show up in production and well figures. Through the end of 1982 no gas had been produced for sale and only 10,319 barrels of oil had been produced.

Montmorency does have the distinction of having the State's northernmost Devonian oil production, from the Atlanta Field - a 1945 Detroit River reservoir discovered by E.R. Morris on the Patterson & White 1 (SE SW SW, Sec 10, T30N, R3E, Avery Township).

But that three-well reservoir produced only 7,688 barrels of oil before being shut in. As the only discovery in the county prior to a 1975 Niagaran find, the Atlanta Field did not attract widespread interest in Montmorency County.

Even the test rate of more than 5 million cubic feet of natural gas and 100 barrels per day (bpd) condensate on Shell Oil Company and Total Leonard's Stella Maris 1-29A (BHL: NE NW SW, Sec 29, T32N, R1E, Montmorency Township) did not cause great excitement and only one other Niagaran reservoir was discovered in Montmorency County in the 1970's. Despite later drilling near the Stella Maris 1-29A it has remained a one-well reservoir and produced 193,583 Mcf natural gas and 951 barrels of condensate.

Northern Michigan Exploration Company (NOMECO) chalked up Montmorency's only other discovery of the 1970's coming through in 1978 on the Canada Creek Ranch Association Herzog 1-14 (NE NW NE, Sec 14, T32N, R1E, Montmorency Township) three miles northeast of the Stella Maris 1-29A. Lack of pipeline service kept early wells from going on line quickly andNOMECO's 1-14 had produced only 18,114 barrels of oil and 13,066 Mcf gas through the end of 1988.

Jennings Petroleum Corporation had a discovery in 1983 of the Vienna 30-30N-1E Niagaran reservoir and cured a combination problem of sour gas and lack of pipeline access by engineering an enhanced oil recovery system using reinjected gas. Technically the system worked, but commercially needed a larger reservoir. In less than three years, production diminished after cumulative production of nearly 100,000 barrels of oil.

Michael T. Cowan, Grand Rapids independent, took over the project and drilled another producing well, but appears to have hit a small pocket of porosity with the Mathews et al 2-30A (SW NE NE, Sec 30) and Cowen now plans to install a sweetening facility and market the oil and gas from the well in a conventional manner.

Montmorency County showed Jennings how tough pinning down a Niagaran target can be in 1985. Jennings made the discovery of the Vienna 17-30N-1 E reservoir, but not until after a straight hole and five directional redrills. The Rosen Trust et al 1-17E (BHL: NW SW NE, Sec 17, T30N, R1E, Vienna Township) cut more than 500 feet of Brown Niagaran and tested 322 bpd oil with 605 Mcfd gas.

The deep play is a carryover from success in Alpena County just east of Montmorency County's Rust Township, T29N, R4E. H.L. Brown, Jr., who made the Alpena County discovery, moved into Montmorency County and opened the Fletcher Pond West Prairie du Chien reservoir in 1987 with the Snowplow 10-1 (SW NW NW, Sec 1) tested at 4.6 million cubic feet of gas per day with 42 bpd condensate from a PDC invertal of 7,080 to 7,108 feet.

Development has been slow, with no deep additions in 1988 and only one in 1989 - H.L. Brown's Tyrell 1-36 (BHL: NE SE SW, Sec 36, T30N, R4E, Rust Township) good for 2.2 Mmcfd gas and 110 bpd condensate. . Included in Montmorency's wildcat deep hole history was Shell's State Albert 1-10 (C SW SE, Sec 10, T29N, R2E, Albert Township) to 8,455 feet and dry in 1981, Union Oil Company of California's McMullen 1-15 (NW NE NE, Sec 15, T30N, R3E, Avery Township) in 1987 and Wagner & Brown's State Briley 1-31 (SW NE NE, Sec 31, T31N, R2E, Briley Township) in 1989. All were dry but may have added useful data to the search.

Mack Oil Corporation was the first to have Antrim gas on line from Montmorency, as part of a project that straddled the Otsego-Montmorency County line in 1988 and included five wells in Section 7 of Vienna Township, T30N, R1E. That same year Dart Oil & Gas Corporation plugged back an Amherstburg wildcat and tested approximately 20 Mcfd gas and 15 bpd water from the Antrim on the State Albert 1-10A (CN SW SE, Sec 10), Shell's old deep test hole.

But Tom Mall of Trendwell Oil Corporation was the first to tackle Montmorency from an Antrim angle in a big way, starting two projects in 1989 in Albert (T29N, R1E) and Vienna (T30N, R1E) Townships. Currently gathering lines and a main sales line are being run and brine disposal wells plus four of the combination Antrim production/ Dundee brine disposal holes will be drilled in the lease block to compare that system to conventional production and disposal.

"We're hoping to be selling gas by the end of June or before," Mall noted. "We tested two of the wells in Albert at commercial rates and won't complete the rest until we are ready with all facilities and once we start moving gas can continue."

PetroStar Energy has plugged back at least one hole to look at the Antrim and UNOCAL appears to have some interest in Avery Township where two holes are permitted to the Traverse and another applied for.

The applications list released by the Geological Survey Division for the week of May 7-11, 1990 only had five applications and all five of those were in Montmorency by Muskegon Development Company - one in Albert and four in Vienna - marking that company's entry into Montmorency after being one of the leaders in the Otsego County Antrim development.

Jean Shoquist is the GeoSurvey District Geologist who oversees part of Otsego County and Montmorency County and she expected to get even busier. "There is quite a bit of activity at the present time in the Antrim," she pointed out. "And everyone has always said that we'd see more Niagaran drilling in Montmorency County."

Some of the most recent Niagaran activity has been the most encouraging, with three Niagaran reservoirs added in 1988 alone and those proving to be more than small, one-well reef buildups. Shell was again the leader with discoveries on the State Vienna 1-6 (BHL: SE NENE, Sec 6, T30N, R1E), the State Vienna 1-31 (NW NW SE, Sec 31, T31N, R1E) and the State Vienna 1-34C (BHL: NW NE SE, Sec 34, T30N, R1E). The 1-31 and 1-34C each tested 3 million cubic feet per day and strong condensate flows while the 1-6 had test output of 360 bpd oil and 274 Mcfd gas.

Approximately one-third of the minerals (as evidenced by the well names on the three Shell discoveries) in the county are owned by the State of Michigan. And the Vienna 6-30N-1E reservoir has three wells and the Vienna 31-3 IN-IE has two to help pump up the county's production output. Vienna 34-30N-1E remains waiting on a pipeline.

Even starting so late, Montmorency is expected to move up the production ladder both in oil and gas. Among the companies showing interest and activity are allformation leaders PetroStar Energy and Wolverine Environmental Production. One of the busiest Antrim Formation developers, Ward Lake Drilling, has four permits and an application in Vienna, T31N, R1E for Antrim holes and other lease and seismic activity has been reported.

In the 1986 Michigan's Oil & Gas News report on Montmorency County it was noted that the bottom tier of townships, each approximately 36 square miles or 144 square miles total had only two holes drilled. After only three Montmorency holes in 1986 and eight in 1987 the drilling statistics jumped to 23 in 1988 and were a strong 18 in 1989.

That 1989 total was third highest in the State for drilling activity, and several Antrim projects were just getting started or in the planning stage. After seven decades or watching Michigan's hydrocarbon activity from the sidelines, Montmorency is stepping up among the leaders.

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