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|Total holes drilled through June 30, 1990||953|
|Total oil wells drilled June 30, 1990||456|
|Total natural gas wells through June 30, 1990||50|
|Total Facility wells through June 30, 1990||1|
|Total dry holes through June 30, 1990||446|
|Well density - approximately three per square mile (369 square miles in county)|
|Total cumulative oil and condensate production through December 31, 1988||48,921,938 bbls.*|
|Total cumulative natural gas production through December 31, 1988||7,536,086 mcf *|
STANDISH - Wherever veteran Michigan oil folk gather to talk oil plays past and future ... not too deep into the conversation Arenac County is bound to be mentioned in wistful tones.
American's oil and gas industry was already 77 years old, Michigan's first recorded production had occurred almost fifty years before and Michigan had been classed as a commercial oil producing state for nearly a dozen years when the Deep River 17 gas field discovery of 1936 in the Berea geologic zone at 1,490 feet put Arenac County in the ranks of Michigan oil producing counties.
Of the seventy-three Michigan Counties explored for oil and gas through 100 years, 40,000 plus drilling permits and well over. 38,000 holes, Arenac county (on the, forefinger/palm joint of the Michigan Lower Peninsula "mitten"), is the 72nd largest in terms of land area (369 square miles, 236,160 acres). In terms of ranking in Michigan petroleum lore, however, Arenac ranks so high amongst the legendary oilfield provinces it should be renamed oilman's Eldorado (the treasure area, not the car model).
Of Arenac County's 236,160 total acres (Saginaw Bay taking a heavy bite out of surface real estate), about five and one half percent (12,684 acres) is underlain by proven and unitized oil and gas fields (24). (The 1986 discovered Santiago Field by Sun Exploration in section 26 of Turner Township and Amoco's 1986 discovered Clayton 4 gas field are both Prairie du Chien gas field discoveries proven capable of production from 11,620 and 10.616 feet respectively, are not included in the unitized figures.)
Arenac County boasts the State's record holder for oil recovery per acre from the Deep River Field, where the vertically faulted area has produced more than 25,000 barrels per acre of Dundee oil from a dolomite pay up to 145 feet thick over 1,060 acres - a figure far above the next best reservoir. When talking major league recovery, Arenac County's Adams, North has been good for nearly 10 million barrels of oil from the Dundee over 520 acres or nearly 20,000 barrels per acre recovery.
Arenac joined the Michigan hydrocarbon producing list in 1936, ironically with two gas reservoirs in the Berea, opening the Clayton and Deep River Fields. In 1937, oil pools (Traverse and Dundee) were discovered in the Adams Field and the 1940's saw eight more reservoirs found. Those 1936 Berea gas pools accounted for 5,213,269 Mcf and 1,642,008 Mcf respectively and now are used only for domestic heating.
The thirties, forties, fifties and sixties saw field names like Adams, AuGres, Clayton, Lincoln, Moffatt and Standish added to the Michigan petroleum rolls by names like Raybum, Basin, Teater, Jones, Wicklund, Gordon and others in a who's who of Michigan petroleum pioneer oildom.
The 1970's, with heavy accent on the Niagaran Country to the north and west, saw Arenac go a decade discoveryless.
Then came the 1980's.
The Sterling 30 Richfield pool discovery at 4,265 feet in 1980 by Mt. Pleasant independent Charles Moskowitz put Arenac County back in the oil discovery country rolls at the opening of the decade with an interesting but nonetheless "Arenac typical" field.
Only three of the 29 pools discovered in Arenac have been abandoned and producing horizons represented include: Berea, Traverse, Dundee, Detroit River Sour Zone, Richfield, A-l Carbonate and Prairie du Chien.
The A-1 Carbonate Pool is in the Au Gres Field and was discovered by PetroStar Energy while on the way to the Prairie du Chien on the Au Gres 2-12 (BHL: SW NE SE, Sec 12) in early 1989. A second well has been added to the pool and both are shut in waiting on sweetening facilities and pipeline access.
PetroStar also is credited with the discovery of the Au Gres Field's Prairie du Chien Pool with its Au Gres 1-12 (SE NE NW, Sec 12, T19N, R6E, Au Gres Township) in 1987 and has added a development well with both now waiting on pipeline service.
With oil output continuing its natural production decline and little new oil exploration in recent years, the attention in Arenac ... like so many other parts of the Michigan Basin ... has turned to natural gas and Arenac has been a headline-maker again in the late 1980's with promise of more to come in the 1990's.
With no major pipeline service to the area, exploration has been slow and production limited on the natural gas scene. One project which quickly proved worthy of pipeline construction to get gas reserves to market was the Prairie du Chien Pool of the Clayton Field, where seven deep gas wells have been completed on a reservoir flagged by Amoco Production Company's discovery on the Haroutunian Unit 1-4 (SW SE SE, Sec 4, T20N, R4E, Clayton Township) in mid-1986. Included in the seven is Amoco's Seignious Unit 1-10 (SW NW NE, Sec 10) listed as capable of producing 942 barrels condensate and 8,067 Mcf gas daily in the Department of Natural Resources Geological Survey Division Annual Well Status Report for 1989.
Strong production figures like those helped make running a pipeline from the West Branch Field and West Branch Gas Plant in Ogemaw County to the north to the Clayton Field a worthwhile endeavor. Amoco and Marathon Oil Company were the leaders in building the plant and pipeline.
Due partly to its eastern border being the meandering shoreline of Lake Huron, Arenac County was shortchanged a little in the acreage department, with only 236,160 acres in 12 townships. But what the map makers took away. Mother Nature gave back in the form of some of the best country for exploration and production.
The overall success rate for the county is more than 53 percent. While there are only 50 gas wells through the first half of 1990, the deep gas formations accounted for 679,504 Mcf in 1988 alone after none was listed for 1986 or 1987.
Mt. Pleasant independent geologist Charles Moskowitz also continues to look at the area, 10 years after he drilled the discovery well of the Sterling, Sec. 30 Field with the Peter Babcock #1 (NW NW NE, Sec 30, T19N, R4E, Deep River Township). The field has accounted for 20 wells and Moskowitz believes that there are still reserves to be found in the area.
Arenac County, a constant through Michigan petroleum history, waits on oil production record laurels to write a new, deeper gas chapter in Michigan hydrocarbon annals.
Selected materials on this page copyright 1991 by Michigan Oil & Gas News, Incorporated.
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