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Wexford County Information

Wexford County

Contact Information

Brad Jenkins

Phone: 617-720-2808

Email: info AT bradfordgordon.com

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Wexford County at a Glance

Total wells drilled through 4/10/87 159
Total oil wells drilled through 4/10/87 23
Total natural gas wells drilled through 1986 24
Total facility wells drilled through 4/10/87 0
Total dry holes drilled through 4/10/87 112
Well density - approximately one well per four square miles (570 square miles in county)
Total cumulative oil and lease condensate production through December 31,1986 5,251,693 bbls.
Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31,1986 34,012,424 Mcf

NOTE: Cumulative production totals do not include production from four wells in Manistee County that are part of fields discovered in Wexford County (Wexford 06-24N-12W and Wexford 18-24N-12W P/A).

CADILLAC - It was as though someone had thrown a party and forgot to invite Wexford County during the first half century of Michigan's life as a viable oil and natural gas producing state.

Bordered by production to the east, southeast and south in Missaukee, Clare, Osceola and Lake Counties, it seemed that all Wexford County could do was stand on the sidelines and watch while scores of Mississippian and Devonianage fields were discovered and developed throughout the Central Basin from the mid-1920s into the decade of the 1970s.

Through 1971 the sum total of Wexford's crude oil production, only 4,814 barrels, was from a lone Traverse Limestone producer drilled in 1952 in Section 27 of Cherry Grove Township, T21N, R10W. Just four miles to the northeast the county's only other productive field. Cherry Grove Sec. 13, had nearly depleted its Michigan Stray reservoir in yielding just under one billion cubic feet gas from five wells.

While exploration had been concentrated in the southeastern corner of the county until that time, it remained relatively scattered, with not even the Cherry Grove discoveries enough to spark a flurry of drilling activity in any one area.

Twenty-two years before the initial oil find Marble-Cowe Oil Company became the first permitted operator of record to put down a probe of Wexford County, drilling in dry in 1930 on the Charles Smith #1 (NE NE NW, Sec 28, T22N, R9W, Haring Township), a Dundee wildcat.

Sun Oil Company was involved in both early discoveries, as operator of the Traverse strike and co-operator with Superior Oil in the premiere Stray gas well, but found it as difficult as their fellow players did to follow up with more successes. The operators were as varied as the locations they tried, including such names as Wagner Brothers Drilling, Mutual Petroleum, C.W. Teater, Gulf Refining Company, Good & Good Drilling and Peninsular Oil Company.

Only 60 drilling completions were on record for the county at the end of 1969, the overall success rate was dismal at 10 percent (six out of sixty connecting) and no one seemed to understand the area's subsurface secrets any better then than in 1930.

The increasing use of seismic surveying as an exploration tool in the search for northern Niagaran pinnacle reefs would soon reveal, however, that the geographic location which had forced Wexford into a spectator's role in earlier Basin plays might just give it a piece of the hot "Niagara bank" action.

The excitement being generated by the oil and gas-rich reef finds in Presque Isle, Grand Traverse, Otsego and Kalkaska Counties was greater than any this oilpatch had seen in decades. Drawn to Michigan in a big way by the siren song of the Salina-Niagaran's potential, Shell Oil Company had already tasted success in the new trend when they drilled their first Wexford wildcat, the Guy Copley 1-10 (SE NW NW, Sec 10, T24N, R12W, Wexford Township) in late 1970.

A drillstem test recovered only gas-cut mud and the hole was plugged. The company found disappointment again on its second Wexford reef shot in the fall of 1971, more than 20 miles to the southeast in Section 31 of Liberty Township, T24N, R9W. The planned Niagaran test went on down to the Cincinnatian, with results no better than on the first try.

Shortly before the Liberty wildcat had reached bottom in the late Ordovician horizon, Shell had drilled into a reef across the border in Grand Traverse County's Grant Township, T25N, R12W. Their Coates 1-26 (SW SW SW, Sec 26) was by no means a barn-burner, with an Oil & Gas News account of the day indicating a D.S.T. resulted in a last minute change from plans to plug the well. The well was successfully completed, flowing initially at 136 barrels oil per day, but more importantly it pushed rapidly expanding trend production six miles to the southwest.

Shell returned to Section 10 of Wexford Township in early 1972 and scored with a south offset to the Copley 1-10. They gauged an initial flow of more than 450 barrels condensate and nine million cubic feet gas per day on the Luther 1-10 (NE SW NW), located approximately three miles southwest of the Grant 26 discovery.

The one-well Wexford 10-24N-12W Field has held up to this day as the county's second-most productive in terms of natural gas, with 3.73 billion cubic feet produced through the end of 1986. Early 1973 was ushered in by two more reef discoveries, made by Traverse Corporation in Section 18 of Wexford Township and Miller Brothers in Section 9 of Wexford.

Like the Section 10 find, both were in gas and condensate reservoirs. Traverse tested 63 barrels condensate per hour and 1.5 Mmcf per day gas on the Herschel Wells #1(SW SE NE, Sec 18), the Miller Brothers W. Brehm 1-9 (SE NE NE, Sec 9) was reported flowing over one million feet on test from a reef interval of only 22 feet. Offsetting the Shell Luther 1-10 to the west, but considered the discovery well of a separate pool, the Brehm 1-9 was never commercially produced.

A partnership of Northern Michigan Exploration, Tribal Oil Company and Miller Brothers drilled two of the county's earliest Niagaran tries, with one of them, the Kaplan-State #1 (S2 NW NW, Sec 20, Wexford Township), finding lots of buildup but no "goodies" in a 550-foot, salt-plugged reef section in February 1973.

Several operators were teased only to be disappointed by finding tall reefs that proved to be salt-filled or made up of tight limestone on the southwestern edge of the Wexford Township play, which has been limited to Sections 1 through 10, 17, 18 and 20; along with Section 5 of Hanover Township, T24N, R11W, to the east.

Records show reef sections up to 600 feet high were cut by wells drilled in a tight cluster in Sections 16 and 17 of Wexford Township (see well location map on page 35), while the eventual producer drilled in that pinnacle and successful tries in a similar reef in Section 20 were farther down on the flank, penetrating from 200 to 250 feet of buildup.

Traverse Corporation established the first Niagaran oil production in Wexford County, tapping the Wexford 5 pool for test production of 200 barrels oil and 200 Mcf gas daily in the summer of 1974. Scouting notes on the well indicated it was partially salt-plugged but had a 17-foot zone of good porosity.

Only five significant oil producing reservoirs have been discovered to date in Wexford County, the most prolific of them first drilled in 1975 when Shell managed to get 345 barrels oil and 381 Mcf gas per day from a reef section described as "tight, hard and limey" in Section 6 of Wexford Township. The Schroeder 2-6 (NE SW NW) was offset four times, with two of the holes going down in neighboring Cleon Township (T24N, R 13W) of Manistee County to the west.

Wexford 6 claims the top three oil producers in, the county as well as the distinction of producing the most for a single field, with cumulative output through the end of 1986 totalling 2,057,076 barrels. The Scroeder 2-6 passed the three-quarter million barrel mark last year, making nearly 9,000 barrels in its twelfth year on production.

Other operators to participate by making discoveries or drilling successful development wells have been: Great Lakes Niagaran; Industrial Natural Gas Corporation; Delta Oil Company, Inc. and Mack Oil Corporation. Don Yohe and Amoco Production Company, both drilled, developments of Wexforddiscovered pools in Manistee County.

Reef exploration in Michigan has long carried a reputation for having high risks along with high production potential, but you wouldn't know it by looking at success rates since the start of the Niagaran era in Wexford County. With Devonian and shallower efforts yielding only 10 percent success through the 1960s, the Niagaran boom can be credited with the improvement to a current overall success rate of nearly 30 percent.

In the period from 1970 to 1982 the success rate was approximately 35 percent. More recent drilling has enjoyed an even higher ratio of keepers to dusters, with 14 of 21 holes put down from 1983 to present being completed for oil or gas production.

To date the only well to bridge the stratigraphic gap between the sparse quantities of shallow gas and Traverse oil found in the 1950s and the prolific Niagaran pays of the 1970s and 1980s has been a 1975 M.G.U. Development Company Richfield oil producer in Section 23 of Henderson Township, T21N, R11W. Their State Henderson 1-23 (CN SE SE) had an initial gauge of 20 barrels per day oil reported, but cumulative production was only 141 barrels by the end of 1982. Updated cumulative records were not available at press time, but current operator Wolverine Gas & Oil is reportedly continuing to produce the well at a rate of approximately one barrel per day.

Dart Oil & Gas, Texaco and Cities Service all tried the Richfield, with Clam Lake (T21N, R9W) and Liberty (T24N, R9W) Township wildcats providing no real encouragement for their operators.

One of the more interesting, and possibly the most frustrating sagas in northern Niagaran reef exploration may have come to a close in January 1987 when Trendwell Oil Corporation plugged and abandoned its Shaw 1-3A (BHL: SE NW SE, Sec 3, Wexford Township). Trendwell had given the prospect two tries after P & G Exploration had drilled and redrilled five times in the southeast quarter of Section 3.

P & G's first redrill reportedly cut more than 250 feet of Brown Niagaran, but well records show the other attempts penetrated no more than 98 feet and cut as little as nine feet of reef.

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