Roscommon County Information

Roscommon County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Roscommon County at a Glance

Total wells completed to July 1, 1989 410
Total oil wells to July 1, 1989 271
Total gas wells to July 1, 1989 14
Total service wells to July 1, 1989 4
Total dry holes to July 1, 1989 121
Well density - less than 1 per square mile (573 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil production thru December 31,1986 20,184,634 bbls.
Total cumulative gas production thru December 31, 1986 18,905,559 Mcf

HOUGHTON LAKE - Roscommon County remains somewhat of a lady in waiting for oil and gas exploration, holding eighteenth place for oil and twenty-third for gas among Michigan's producing counties largely due to two high-producing Devonian reservoirs discovered in the 1940's and 50's but not yet receiving much attention from the Central Basin's big plays of the 1980's - the deep gas search and the shallow Antrim gas development.

Roscommon County lies near the center of the northern half of the Lower Peninsula and is surrounded by six counties with proven deep gas (Prairie du Chien) production and also is well south of most of the Antrim Formation shallow gas output.

Despite vast areas of undrilled tracts, little attention has been paid to Roscommon County since Michigan's Oil & Gas News First profiled the county in August, 1985. After a relatively busy year in 1984 with seven holes drilled, there were only three in 1985, two in 1986, one in 1987, six in 1988 and none in the first three quarters of 1989.

The potential for further production, both shallow and deep, is high. Across the 573 square miles in the county, there have been 410 holes or less than one per square mile. Of those 410 drilled alltime through the first three quarters of 1989, 153 were in the St. Helen Field's Detroit River-Richfield reservoir and another 131 in the Headquarters Field ... leaving only 127 holes drilled over more than 500 square miles.

To the west, Missaukee County is where the deep play began with the 1981 announcement of deep gas approximately a dozen miles from the Roscommon County border. In Clare County to the southwest, the deep gas chase action is less than six miles away and production is less than 10 miles. Two Ogemaw County townships (Foster and Ogemaw) touching the Roscommon border have deep gas. Add to the list Gladwin to the southeast, Oscoda to the northeast and Crawford to the north with Prairie du Chien (PdC) production and the ring is nearly complete.

The only county around Roscommon without deep gas production is Kalkaska and Union Oil of California (UNOCAL) is trying to remedy that with a deeper pool test of the Beaver Creek Field in Garfield Township nearing total depth.

Roscommon County hasn't been left out entirely when it comes to deep gas exploration. But the lack of a first success to signal a surge of followup drilling and two of the State's largest bodies of water have worked to limit interest in a State where the deep play is just developing and prospects can be found in the 18 counties with proven PdC production and elsewhere.

Space nearly equal to a township and a half is taken up by Houghton and Higgins Lakes, eliminating that area from exploration. Michigan's basin or bowl-shaped geological makeup may be another factor in the lack of deep exploration, making Roscommon County's Prairie du Chien deeper than the same formation in counties closer to the edges of the Basin.

Roscommon County had a chance to grab big headlines soon after the Missaukee County deep find, but JEM Petroleum Corporation's Dalrymple 1-16 (NW NE SE, Sec 16, T22N, R4W, Roscommon Township) was dry after reaching 12,260 feet on August 10, 1981. The hole was near the Nellsville Field and transferred to Dan Oil & Gas on August 14, but was labeled dry and abandoned on November 24.

Amoco Production Company has given two shots at pinning down PdC production, drilling the Wahl Unit 1-14 (NW SE NE, Sec 14, T24N, R1W, AuSable Township) to 11,316 feet in late 1983 and early 1984 as a St. Helen Field deeper pool test and then trying the State Roscommon Unit 1-29 (SW SE NW, Sec 29, T21N, R3W, Roscommon Township) in 1986, drilled to 12,535 feet as a Headquarters DPT. Both were dry.

Prairie du Chien gas was flared on at least one of Federated Natural Resources Corporation's three deep tests in the southwest corner of Roscommon County, along with some gas from a fracture system in the Trenton. Federated drilled the Kitchenhoff & State 1-29 (SW SW SE, Sec 29, T22N, R4W, Roscommon Township) in 1986 to 11,175 feet and then went south to the State Roscommon and USA 1-5 (NE NW NE, Sec 5, T2 IN, R4W, Roscommon Township), a dry hole at 11,242 feet, before coming back to the Kitchenhoff & State Roscommon 1-29A (BHL: SW NW SE, Sec 29) and testing more gas. Federated might have solved the riddle of the area, except the company was sold to Mobil Oil Corporation and Mobil was busy in other areas.

Flo Mata was an officer with Federated during the testing of the Roscommon deep tests and is now president of Mata Exploration, Inc. in Traverse City. "I thought we were close to something in the area," Mata noted, "We had Trenton gas and some gas from the Prairie du Chien."

"Roscommon County still has potential for'deep gas success,'' Mata added.' 'Companies may have to look for new structural trends. Drilling has been pretty skimpy and seismic is likely to play an important role. Every basin goes through different phases and a find there could create some more excitement and more drilling."

The most recent deep test was a little more than a year ago when Sun Exploration and Production Company tried the State Lake 1-29 (SE SW NE, Sec 29, T23N, R4W, Lake Township) just southeast of where the Enterprise Field extends from Missaukee County into Roscommon County. The 11,938-foot wildcat had gas to the surface on a drill stem test from 10,500 to 10,546 feet after encountering the PdC at 10,526 but was plugged and abandoned. The most recent discovery in Roscommon County also was one of the least successful. In 1984 Robert Raffaele drilled a wildcat on the Hahn 1-12 (SW NW NE, Sec 12, T21N, R1W, Nester Township), tested oil and was credited with a discovery in the Detroit River Formation. But a second hole to the west was dry and the discovery abandoned later in 1984.

Muskegon Development had better luck in 1982 with the Denton Creek Field. Muskegon's State Backus 1-28 (NW NE SE, Sec 28, T22N, R2W, Backus Township) was the discovery well of a Detroit River Sour Zone pool tested at 35 barrels per day oil, 15 Mcfa day gas with three bpd water. Eight wells were completed in the field and all were still producing at the end of 1986 after 54,492 barrels of oil had been pumped.

There's no doubt that 1941 was the banner year for Roscommon County. Both the St. Helen Field with its 8,742,534 barrels of oil and 14,656,999 Mcf natural gas through 1986 and the Headquarters Traverse Pool were discovered that year. The Headquarters Field went on to add a Detroit River Sour Zone reservoir in 1942, Michigan Stray in 1945, Richfield in 1952 and Dundee in 1958 with a combined oil output of 11,274,640 barrels of oil and 4,248,560 Mcf gas through 1986.

Sun Oil Company's Bauman 1 (CN SW NE, Sec 29, T24N, R1W) was drilled in Richfield Township, later changed to AuSable Township. When the well was completed for 80 barrels per day it didn't even merit a headline in late 1941. But an acid job in early 1942 led to "Acid Helps Richfield Wildcat Producer'' headlines in the January 16, 1942 Oil & Gas News and many a headline after that.

Most of the Roscommon attention was focused further south in 1941, where Eugene Hilliard opened the Headquarters or South Roscommon Field with the State A-1 (CS SE SE, Sec 34, T31N, R3W, Roscommon Township). The well earned the attention by doing 50 barrels of oil per hour for the first five hours when completed in June.

Sun jumped into the Headquarters Traverse Formation play late in the year with a half mile stepout on the State A-l (CN NE SW, Sec 33) and brought in a well at 160 barrels per day that kicked up to 40 to 45 barrels per hour when given an acid treatment.

The St. Helen Field never gained production from other formations, but is easily the biggest field in wells and acreage with a total of 153 wells drilled over 4,600 acres. In 1958 the field was convened to secondary recovery with recycled gas and water flood systems. Oil recovery before the conversion was 3,760,000 barrels and another 4,123, 765 barrels have been produced since. The project was the State third at the time and has been a model for several others.

The Headquarters Field Traverse Pool was good for 47 wells total, but only two were still producing through 1986. The field gained multi-horizon status quickly though, adding up production from the four horizons to become the biggest oil producer in the County at 11,274,640 barrels and the second-highest gas producer at 4,248,560 Mcf.

The Nellsville Field followed suit after its discovery in 1956 by Sun Oil Company on the Hogan 4 (SE SE SW, Sec 8, T22N, R4W, Roscommon Township). The initial Richfield Pool in Section 8 was joined by a Dundee Pool in 1957 and a Traverse Pool in 1980, but the new additions added only one well each and the Dundee was abandoned in 1967 after 16,528 barrels of oil. The other two combined had 59,713 barrels.

The list of townships with few holes in far exceeds those with substantial drilling and/or production. The Geological Survey Division map (see page 29) shows Gerrish (T24N, R3W) with no holes, Higgins (T24N, R2W and T23N, R2W) with six and four respectively. Lake (T23N, R4W) with 13 and 11 of those on the east end of the Enterprise Field extending from Missaukee County, none in Markey (T23N, R3W), two in Denton (T22N, R3W).

Of interest on the Geological Survey Division map on page 29 are the well symbols listed in parenthesis denoted on the Legend below as ' 'confidential.'' The holes - for example in Sections 22 and 33 of Roscommon (T21 N, R4W) and Sections 1, 10, 17 and 20 of Roscommon (T21 N, R3W) - may be mineral well tests, as no oil and gas permit records reflect those locations and may be stratigraphic tests popular in recent years to help confirm seismic readings.

It was the deep play fever (with little of the restraint which has marked recent exploration) which led to big numbers in Roscommon County leasing in 1981. A September sale of the east half of the county's state owned or controlled tracts brought 73,782 acres for $8,712,959 or $118.09 per acre. In November, 1981 the east half of the County 84,191 acres (out of 84,824 offered) brought $7,007,203 or $83 per acre.

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