Appendix 9

Finding the Mt. Pleasant Field, A Personal Reminisce

Thomas H. Hiestand started his career in 1919 in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a file clerk for an independent landman. A geology graduate of Indiana University in 1922, he became associated with Pure Oil Company, which he worked for until 1927. The following is extracted from a presentation Mr. Hiestand made in 1976.

The Ohio-Michigan division manager [of Pure Oil], Ed Clagget, spent his vacation in Michigan in 1925, during the hay fever season as he had done year after year. Upon his return to Columbus he called me in his office and discussed information he had received about the discovery well at the Saginaw field in Michigan, and assigned me the job of evaluating the producing properties in the new field, with the large objective in mind that exploration regionally in the Michigan Basin be given serious consideration. The work involved numerous trips to the field and to the Michigan Geological Survey offices in Lansing during 1925 and 1926.

Dr. [Richard A.] Smith [Chief Geologist for Michigan] reviewed all my work with me in November, 1926, and he mentioned that all attempts he had made since his appointment in 1919 had failed to obtain the records or samples of about 100 brine wells which produced the brine that was transported by pipeline from the Mt. Pleasant area to the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland, Michigan. He did not have a map showing locations of the brine wells. He indicated that he was hopeful that I could obtain the records when I told him one of my chores with the Pure had been supervising their brine well operations in the vicinity of the Pure's salt plant at Charleston, West Virginia. I promised I would try and I would furnish him confidential copies of my information in the event I succeeded in the undertaking.

We [the author and his wife, who was also knowledgeable in geology] made an appointment with Dr. Herbert H. Dow and his son, who had graduated at Yale University and was "learning the ropes" at the plant in Midland. The trip by car from Saginaw to Midland has never been forgotten. Most of the hard top road was a single lane in width and passing cars had to drive with the outer wheels on rock road metal. We arrived well before lunch. Dr. Dow received us graciously and suggested that we join him for lunch at the restaurant on the plant facilities.

In a relaxed atmosphere he told us about his chemical research. And he told us about his studies of field locations in several geologic basins to find suitable brine and his selection of the Napoleon Sandstone aquifer in the bottom of the Michigan basin at Mt. Pleasant. He purchased in fee a brine well site containing two acres, with easements for pipeline right-of-way. He told us his field superintendent was coming to the office after lunch to go over the operations with us. All of this background information was volunteered freely. In my introductory remarks I identified myself as a petroleum geologist, representing the Dawes Brothers of the Central Trust Co. of Illinois, the Management of the Pure Oil Company, and that the Vice President of the United States, Charles Dawes, was financially our founder of the company. He replied that he recalled when Gen. Dawes was chairman of the commission that re-established the financial solvency of the German Republic under its president, von Hindenburg, and the importance to Dr. Dow for the chemical industry to resume international trade after World War I. And from that moment I felt assured my success in obtaining the well records and map of the brine well properties would transpire.

In summing up our discussions I proposed to protect Dow Chemical Company's brine well properties in all cases that Pure's test well drilling program called for wells to be drilled through the Napoleon Sandstone and more than 1200 feet deeper to the carbonate reservoir beds in Devonian formations. I discussed the Pure's lack of success in attempts to use hydrochloric acids in treating oil wells for stimulating productivities and recoveries. Nothing specific was worked out; however, the idea was eventually formally negotiated in Dow and Pure companies jointly forming the Dowell service company, from which Pure withdrew many years ago. At the conclusion of the conference, Dr. Dow instructed his son to compile a complete set of brine well records, and maps with the wells and numbers, and with surface elevations, shown at the locations. In about two weeks we received word the records and maps were ready; my wife and I returned and found the job was efficiently and completely handled. Back at our room in Saginaw we computed datum.

The [resulting] contour map defined the Mt. Pleasant anticline, which extended 21 miles in length, from T.15N., R.3W, southeastward to T.13N., R.1W, across Isabella and Midland counties. We informed Pure's division manager, Ed Clagett, of our evident oil and gas prospect which would require a drilling block of approximately 64,000 acres to be leased as soon as practicable. The manager of the land department, Charles Hammond, instructed "Red" Davis to go to the field immediately, prepare take-off maps and begin leasing.

The No. 1 Root well was spudded approximately 12 months after Dr. Dow made the well records and maps available. The Pure Oil Company completed the discovery well, No. 1 Root, in Section 18, Township 14 North, Range 2 West, Greendale Township, Midland County, Michigan, on February 18, 1928. Initially the total depth was 3533 feet with initial production pumping at the rate of 85 BOPD. After deepening to 3607 feet, and plugging back to 3598 feet, and shooting the interval from 3580 to 3598 feet with nitroglycerine, the well was re-completed flowing 125 BOPD, in reservoir beds of Dundee, a Devonian formation. This discovery was followed by orderly development, and then in succession other local pools or fields were discovered. In 1929, the Leaton field was discovered; in 1931, the Porter field was discovered; however, development was accelerated nearing boom proportions when an extension development well was completed flowing 3200 BOPD, at a location in Section 22, Township 13 North, Range 1 West. In the fields on the Mt. Pleasant anticline, a combined total of 1054 wells were completed; in 1972 there were 278 wells remaining on production. The future reserves could be estimated with a small margin of error, indicating ultimate recovery will be 80 million barrels of oil and 13 billion cubic feet of gas.