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Oakland County Information

Oakland County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Oakland County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through December 31, 1987 194
Total oil wells drilled through December 31, 1987 23
Total gas wells drilled through December 31, 1987 25
Total facility wells (observation wells) drilled through December 31, 1987 5
Total dry holes drilled through December 31, 1987 141
Well density - approximately one well per 5 square miles (899 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through December 31, 1984 921,918 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1984 17,657,010 Mcf*

* Most recent cumulative production figures available.

PONTIAC - Bordering the metropolitan Detroit area to the northwest and offering numerous natural and man-made obstacles to oil and gas development through its multitudinous lakes and densely populated urban and suburban areas, Oakland County has nonetheless become an important part of Michigan's hydrocarbon production scene on the strength of Niagaran reef discoveries made in the 1970s and 1980s.

A casual glance at a map of Oakland County showing only locations of oil and gas wells and dry holes might prompt the question, "With the success that has been had in the areas tested, why hasn't more of the county been explored?".

The accompanying map on page 19 helps answer the question, showing many of the hundreds of lakes that dot the county's 899 square miles, making potential hydrocarbon targets difficult if not impossible to reach, as well as the path of "bedroom" communities that stretch from Pontiac to the southeastern corner of Oakland County, where the Wayne County line also forms the north city limit of Detroit.

Despite these hindrances to both exploration and leasing, producers have continued to seek out and find commercial quantities of oil and gas in Oakland County Niagaran reservoirs, making the most of the county's more open, less populated regions.

Through June 1987 unofficial production statistics (compiled from prorated production reports and annual summaries) show that Oakland County wells had made approximately 1.5 million barrels oil, or more than three times the cumulative total that had been produced through 1982.

New oil production put on line since 1985 from several discoveries should push cumulative totals considerably higher, much as did an influx of oil and gas discoveries drilled in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s.

While nearly 70 percent of the oil produced all-time from Oakland County has been taken out of the ground in the past six years, explorationists have been looking for oil in Oakland County since the 1930s. More than 10 years before the county's first actual producing well was drilled in Springfield Township (T4N, R8E) and more than 20 years before the discovery of the county's first significant pool of oil or gas, the Leonard field, J.V. Wicklund Development Co. had tested the Niagaran in Section 21 of Lyon Township, T1N, R7E.

Wicklund's William Smith ffl (SW SE SE) was dry in 1940, but was not drilled far from a 1985 reef discovery and was the first Niagaran test to go down in a township where 10 of Oakland's 19 producing fields are located.

The 1953-drilled Springfield, Sec. 22 discovery was made by a deep test, one of only a handful ever drilled to early Ordovician strata in Oakland, and is credited with being the first to have status as an oil or gas field, though it produced only 649 barrels oil.

Another marginal well, a 1960 Trenton test of Oakland County's portion of the Northville Field, was plugged back and produced more than 11,000 barrels oil from the Niagaran as the county's second discovery well.

Discovery of the largest gas producing reservoir and third largest oil producing reservoir in the county was made in 1963 when Walter L. Harvey's Stan J. O'Connor ffl wildcat well in Section 15 of northeastern Oakland County's Addison Township (T5N, R11E) opened the large Leonard reef.

A total of 14 wells were drilled in the one and one-half mile long by three-quarter mile wide Leonard Field reef, with the reservoir's cumulative natural gas production figure of 8.2 billion cubic feet through the ends of 1987 accounting for approximately one-half of all Oakland County gas output.

The field is now unitized and made news in both the Michigan and worldwide oil communities when its operator, Lakeville Gas Associates, drilled the longest lateral "drain hole" to date from a well in Section 15 of Addison Township in October 1985. The 800-foot length has since been surpassed as the technique has evolved from that of a revolutionary method to become a fairly commonplace occurrence in the United States and worldwide.

Outside of development of the Leonard reef, Oakland County would boast of no new discoveries or successful development wells throughout the remainder of the 1960s and halfway into the decade of the 1970s. At the forefront of Niagaran reef exploration efforts in Oakland County in the 1970s and finder of the first prodcutive reef there in the "modern" Niagaran era was Traverse City-based Reef Petroleum, who drilled three of the four reef finds brought in from 1976 to 1979.

Reef's John H. Fallen 1-14 (SE SE SW, Sec 14, Addison Township) opened the Addison 14-5N-1 IE pool in late 1976, a two well reservoir that had produced more than 1.75 billion cubic feet gas midway through 1987. A year later, they tapped the Avon 1-3N-1 IE pool with the S & P Investments 1-1 (NW NE SE, Sec 1, Avon Township) discovery well, a field that proved to be even more successful. In 1978 Reef drilled the first of what would become a six-well development in the Addison 12-5N-11E reef, fourth most prolific in both oil and gas production to date in county history.

Arbuckle Corporation's Lyon 18-1N-7E discovery, the Howard Friedlander 1-18 (NE SW NE, Sec 18, Lyon Township), was the only non-Reef Petroleum operated discovery of the decade.

Reef picked up where it had left off at the end of the 1970s, starting the decade of the 1980s by drilling the discovery wells of one well pools that rank today as first and second highest in oil production in Oakland County, including multi-well reservoirs. The Chicorel 1-17 (BHL: NE NE NW, Sec 17, Lyon Township) rates as the most prolific oil well in Oakland County, having produced 344,467 barrels through the end of June 1987, while not far behind is the Felber 1-8, another Lyon Township discovery which had made nearly 300,000 barrels through the same period.

The Addison 12, Avon 1, Lyon 8 and Lyon 17 fields are all operated today by Grace Petroleum.

The pace of Oakland County exploration Idropped off somewhat again from 1980 until 1985, with sour discoveries made in Section 9 of Oakland Township and Section 36 of Orion Township resulting in the only new pools. All three wells in the two pools were shut-in as of December 31,1987 according to Geological Survey Division records.

A resurgence of successful activity at least as vigorous as that seen in the late 1970s and early part of the 1980s began with the first of seven new reef discoveries to be completed between 1985 and 1987.

Independent Mosbacher Production was the first to hit paydirt in the mid-1980s, completing the Zaph 4-15 as (NE SW SW, Sec 15) Lyon Township's third Niagaran reef oil discovery in late spring 1985. Also bringing in discoveries in Lyon that summer and autumn were Kelly Oil & Gas Inc. and Somoco Inc. in Sections 9 and 21, respectively.

The Lyon 9-1N-7E reef tapped by Kelly's Dettore et al 1-9 (SE NE NE, Sec 9) has been the strongest of the reefs found in the past three years, producing more than 85,000 barrels oil. Somoco's Danto & Lawton 1-21B (BHL: SE SE NE, Sec 21) discovery was to be only the first of three Lyon finds coupled with a Novi Township discovery for the company specializing in southern Michigan.

Somoco followed up with discoveries of the Lyon 24 (oil) and Lyon 29 (gas) reefs in 1986 before drilling the first ever successful well in Novi Township last year. The Delta Trucking 1-17 (BHL: SE SE SW, Sec 17, Novi Township) was rated as a strong oil producer on completion, flowing more than 200 barrels oil daily. The Quinney 1-24 (Section 24, Lyon Township) had recorded a similar test rate, while the Lyon 29 discovery, the Randall 1-29 (Section 29, Lyon Township) tested at over three million cubic feet gas daily.

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