Michigan basin Utica shale gas play may ignite

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Mar. 22 --
A play for natural gas in Upper Ordovician Utica shale may be nearly ready to sprout wings in the northern Michigan basin.

Reports indicate that Petoskey Exploration LLC, a private Denver operator, has flared gas from an exploratory well about 30 miles southeast of Traverse City.

The Petoskey Pioneer 1-3, in 3-24n-7w, Missaukee County, was permitted to a true vertical depth of 9,000 ft and was to have a lateral of about 5,000 ft in Utica shale. The gas flare test is reported to have followed a hydraulic fracturing operation.

Few other data are available on the well, flow rates, or gas analysis, but from a well log posted on the Department of Environmental Quality website the vertical pilot hole bottomed in Trenton-Black River just below the Utica shale.

Information from the well is to be released from confidential status as of Apr. 12, 2010.

Petoskey is believed to be working with the Energy West land organization, which leased nearly 200,000 acres at Michigan state sales in 2008. Those parcels were in Cheboygan, Crawford, Kalkaska, Missaukee, and nonproducing Emmet counties, among others.

The state plans to hold another sale May 4 of about 107,000 acres, of which Energy West nominated 95,000 acres.

The play area as indicated by early leasing generally brackets Otsego and surrounding counties, where operators developed methane with 5-6% carbon dioxide and water from Devonian Antrim shale at 1,500-1,700 ft in the 1980s-1990s in vertical wells. Some of that area is being redeveloped with horizontal drilling.

The apparent Utica discovery in Michigan is 600 miles west-southwest of exploration for Utica shale gas in Quebec’s St. Lawrence Lowlands and 400 miles west of Utica and Trenton-Black River exploration in the Finger Lakes region of the Appalachian basin around Elmira, NY.

EQT Corp., Pittsburgh, has cored the Utica shale at 13,500 ft in southwestern Pennsylvania (OGJ, Oct. 19, 2009, p. 40).

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