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Presque Isle County Information

Presque Isle County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Presque Isle County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through December 31, 1988 374*
Total oil wells drilled through December 31, 1988 32
Total gas wells drilled through December 31, 1988 10
Total dry holes drilled through December 31, 1988 320
Well Density - approximately one well per two square miles (678 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil production through December 31, 1987 3,269,642 bbls.*
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1987 11,685,777 Mcf*

* Status unknown on 4 holes drilled in 1988.

ROGERS CITY - The year was 1969.

Early in the year the decade-long Michigan "boom" prompted by the mid-50's Albion - Scipio Trend Discovery (which brought about a drilling/ production/"oilfield excitement" spike unheard of in the state since the mid- 30's) was tailing out. Drilling permits, completions, oil and gas production and Michigan oilpatch enthusiasm were nosediving into an economic trough.

For the fifth time in four decades it was "all over but the shouting" for Michigan as an oil state and unless something dramatic happened quick another decade would see the Michigan petroleum industry a doddering used to be. An exploration/production consensus count would have found faith and hope in short supply and even the "spark plugs" of the industry were having a hard time getting anybody fired up about the future. There were theories, "pep talks," hints and rumors of new reserve potentials in Northern Michigan but so far the "proof is in the drilling" had offered more drilling than proof.

By the end of the year the story was different, made different by four discovery wells. The cover of "Michigan's Oil and Gas Fields, 1969, Annual Statistical Summary 12, Geological Survey Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources" featured a Northern Lower Michigan map with arrows pointing to discovery wells in Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Otsegoand Presque Isle Counties with month of discovery noted. The earliest, March, was Presque Isle, on the Northeastern end of the skeleton that was to flesh out to become the Northern Niagaran Reef Trend, the most prolific oil and gas producing play in Michigan history, responsible for catapulting Michigan into the ranks of the top dozen U.S. petroleum producing state in the '70s and well into the '80s. The other Counties, and more, along that trend fleshed out, swelled, and matured while, for a variety of reasons including lack of market pipelines and the "no flare" order, Presque Isle County waited in the wings while her Northern Trend sisters went to the dance .... 'til now.

The Michigan Oil and Gas News 1969 Year End issue lists (with Shell's two 6200 foot Niagaran discoveries in Otsego County and Me Clure's 6800 foot Niagaran discovery in Grand Traverse County) a 2700 foot Niagaran discovery near Onaway in Presque Isle County among the most interesting new developments of the year. That well, the Cook Brothers et al (including Lanphars) Draysey I (Section 29-35N-2E, North Allis Township, Presque Isle), a farmout offsetting a previous "dry hole with shows," was the discovery of Presque Isle's first field, the Onaway Field (since changed designation and now known as the North Allis field.

While no "barnburner" (producing 5,782 barrels of oil from discovery through 1982 and that, because of water problems, produced only when local road departments need the brine, another era ending).

Through the first five years of the decade of the 1970's there were no more discoveries in Presque Isle County and it wasn't until Shell Oil Company made a discovery in May of 1976on the U.S. Steel Corp. 2-12 (C E NW, Sec 12, T34N, R6E, Pulawski Township) ad Amoco Production Company followed with an August, 1976 find on the Sorgett Unit 1-26 (NW SW SE, Sec 26, T34N, R4E, Bismarck Township) that Presque Isle began to get a little more attention.

Even though Shell's Pulawski find resulted in a two-well reef producing 1,874,811 Mcf natural gas through 1987, there has been no other production found in the township and three of the four field openers in Presque Isle in 1977 were in Belknap Township, T34N, R5E.

Presque Isle County's extensive shoreline dictates a triangular shape for the county and nine of the townships are larger than the traditional six-mile-by-six-mile configurations in most 36-mile square townships in Michigan. Using the larger units there is production in five of the 14 townships.

By the end of the 1970's there had been 12 discovery wells posted in five new townships and the wells scored test rates as high as 7 million cubic feet of gas on one well and more than 700 barrels of oil per day on another.

The 1980's proved even more active with 18 discoveries with another year to go and several holes permitted and planned for drilling during the coming year.

The first Petroleum History Profile on Presque Isle County was published in the April 26, 1985 issue of Michigan's Oil & Gas News and concluded with the statement: "For the future? Indications are that Niagaran exploration will see an intensified pace as pipelines are brought on line ... and detection technology of the 'tricky pinnacles' improves."

That prediction has held true and in 1987 Presque Isle County climbed to become the second-most-drilled county in the State for the year with 33 holes drilled that year. The five-year span from 1984 through 1988 saw 142 holes drilled in Presque Isle or nearly 40 percent of the all-time total.

Through the end of 1983 only 234 holes had been drilled in the county for approximately one every three square miles and vast areas had yet to see a drill bit. Adding up all the production through the end of 1982 results in only 47,159 barrels of oil and no natural gas marketed.

Records for both oil and gas production were set for Presque Isle County in 1987 (the latest proration figures available) with output of 884,597 barrels of oil and 5,371,151 Mcf natural gas during the 12-month span from January 1 through December 31, 1987. All-time totals at the end of 1987 read: Oil - 3,269,642 barrels, Gas - 11,685,777 Mcf and both figures arc climbing.

Mother Nature (read that geology) and geography combined to hold back exploration in the early stages of the Northern Niagaran Reef Trend development. It simply was easier to find and drill for the elusive pinnacle targets in other areas and the Wetheader pipeline and its system of laterals developed faster in those areas than in Presque Isle.

The drift atop formations in Presque Isle made for seismic resolution problems and when a prospect was identified and drilling started, the geology of the Presque Isle area caused drilling problems. Many a well card in the file for Michigan's Oil & Gas News carries notes of "lost zones," "hitting boulders," "had to skid rig" and other indications of drilling problems.

Time and technology have combined to overcome the negative factors involved in exploration on the northeastern tip of the Trend and the progression of drilling has made more geological data available and thus stimulates more drilling.

The prime reef targets across much of the western and central portions of the Northern Trend are drilled ..up and Presque Isle remains a "frontier" area for exploraton, still boasting vast undrilled areas and perking interest with some impressive production rates from recently-discovered reservoirs.

Shell Western E & P, Inc., which isn't known for making many mistakes in its long reign as the most successful Northern Niagaran Trend exploration entity, is a leader in Presque Isle exploration and has been for the last 20 years.

The extension of the Wetheader pipeline system northeast from Otsego County through Presque Isle in 1985 opened new areas for independents without the added danger of having to shut in a well for long period of time waiting on pipeline access.

Shell opened some eyes to Presque Isle in 1985 with a discovery on the Sylvania Savings 1-30 (SE NW SW, Sec 30, T34N, R3E, Case Township), tested at 792 barrels per day (bpd) oil with 696 Mcf per day natural gas and followed that with two more in Section 29 tested at 391 and 420 bpd oil and another in Section 27 good for a test rate of 403 bpd oil.

Independents have been increasingly active in the county, Trendwell and Northern Michigan Exploration Company (NOMECO) go way back and among the leaders lately have been PetroStar Energy and Northern Processors, doing business as Preston Northern, in conjunction with Pangbom Exploration.

In 1988, the Preston-Pangbom team accounted for a discovery on the State Bismarck 1-16B (BHL: NW NW NW, Sec 16, T34N, R4E, Bismarck Township) tested at rates up to 6 Mmcf gas per day.

The two other oil wells from 1988 were for Shell and PetroStar and Preston and Shell each picked off good wells in Presque Isle in 1987. The big single year for discoveries was in 1986 when six were made.

Since Presque Isle production has been strictly Salina Niagaran, most of the future drilling is expected to be aimed at targets in that system, but the expanding deep play may reach a little further north and be added. The busy Antrim play to the south in Montmorency and southwest in Otsego isn't as likely to reach Presque Isle due to the shallow depths at which the Antrim is encountered in the county and lack of caprock qualities.

Each of the last three record years (1985-86-87), production for both oil and gas has risen and the continued exploration and pipeline access should keep that string going.

The biggest field in the county is the Allis 19-33N-2E, with five wells drilled and four still producing at the end of 1987. It also ranks as the leading oil producer with 1,216,374 barrels through the end of 1987. The best gas producer is the Bismarck 26A-34N-4E with two wells totaling 3,392,769 Mcf by the end of 1987.

Some of the areas in Presque Isle County on Trend with production to the southwest have yet to see a drill bit and the prediction made in the April, 1985 Petroleum History Profile still holds true today: Niagaran exploration will see an intensified pace.

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