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Eldorado Oil and Gas Field

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Shallow gas wells drilled in the vicinity of Augusta as early if not earlier than 1906 represent the first developments in Butler county. The gas obtained was in sufficient quantities to supply the town of Augusta "years before oil was discovered," which was in June, 1914 (Haworth, 1917). The presence of gas at Augusta inspired the city of Eldorado to look for gas in its vicinity, and accordingly the city drilled a well late in 1909 or early in 1910 on the Holderman tract in the SW, sec. 3, T. 26 S., R. 5 E. A depth of 1,557 feet was reached without encountering any showings, and the well was abandoned. Not daunted by this failure, a second municipal well was drilled during the fall of 1910 or early in 1911, in the city park on the east bank of the Walnut river. After reaching a depth of 1,695 feet this too was abandoned as a failure.

Several years elapsed before interest was again aroused, and then the revival was due to the discovery of oil at Augusta, in June, 1914. This time the city of Eldorado consulted Dr. Erasmus Haworth, then state geologist, and employed him to make a field examination of the surrounding vicinity and to suggest a location for a third test well. As a result the Eldorado anticline was found, and, upon the recommendations of Doctor Haworth, leases were obtained on 790 acres of land in sec. 36, T. 25 S., R. 4 E., secs. 31 and 32, T. 25 S., R. 5 E., and sec. 1, T. 26 S., R. 4 E., high on this structural feature, and a well was drilled near the center of the NW SE, sec. 1, T. 26 S., R 4 E., on the Fowler lease. A depth of about 2,650 feet was reached by August, 1915, without finding commercial production, and the well was abandoned.

Located high on the Eldorado anticline, in the heart of what has since developed into the Eldorado field, the failure of this well is difficult to explain. Wells to the west and north, only a location removed, have since come in with initial productions of several hundred barrels, but it is also to be noted that to the northeast and east at least three additional dry holes have been drilled on the immediately adjacent lease, forming an unbroken row of four dry holes. In the absence of detailed logs of all these wells their failure can be explained only by a local barren condition of the otherwise productive rock zone of this locality.

During the drilling of the city well on the Fowler lease (1915) the Wichita Natural Gas Company (now the Empire Gas and Fuel Company) made a detailed geologic examination of the region and leased many thousands of acres. Immediately after the abandonment of the Fowler well the Wichita Natural Gas Company negotiated with the city and acquired for $800 cash, plus certain stipulations, the city's 790 acres of leases. Among other considerations in these stipulations it was agreed that the company should drill a well to a depth of at least 3,000 feet on one of their own leases, and if this came in dry to drill a second well on one of the original city leases. If paying quantities of oil and gas were obtained the city was to be reimbursed its entire expense in drilling the Fowler dry hole, amounting to about $15,000. In accordance with their contract, the Wichita Natural Gas Company immediately started operations for a well on the Stapleton land on the SE, sec. 29, T. 25 S., R. 5 E. A location (center of NE SE) was made on September 1, a standard rig was started on September 9, and drilling commenced on September 29, 1915. Within a week a good showing of oil was encountered in a sand at a depth of 549-557 feet (a few wells produce oil from this sand), and commercial production, estimated at 50 to 200 barrels per day, was found in a sand at a depth of 660-678 feet. This discovery marks the opening of the Eldorado field. The 660-foot sand in the discovery well was mudded off in order to make a deep test, but meanwhile other wells were soon started with portable rigs to develop this shallow sand, and for some time 100-barrel wells in this sand were common. At least seven wells were completed in the 660-foot sand before the close of 1915. During the deeper drilling of the discovery well, Stapleton No. 1, several showings of oil and gas were encountered, but no further commercial production was found until in December, when the Stapleton pay zone was reached at a depth of 2,465 feet [This pay is here termed a zone, inasmuch as it is not a stratigraphic unit. See pp. 59-73.]. This was penetrated 46 feet and a production of about 175 barrels was finally developed. The log of this well is graphically shown in plate VI.

Plate IV—Stapleton well No. 1, the discovery well of the Eldorado field.

Stapleton well No. 1, the discovery well of the Eldorado field.

Though operations at first centered principally around the discovery well, a 50-barrel pumper in the 660-foot sand was completed in December on the Linn lease in the W2 NW, Sec. 5, T. 26 S., R. 5 E., which extended the field two miles to the southwest. Following shortly upon this extension the Sunflower Oil Company (since sold to the Sinclair Oil Company) developed in February, 1916, a 100-barrel producer in the 660foot sand on the Adams farm in the SE, sec. 31, T. 25 S., R. 5 E. This company proceeded to develop its property at a rapid rate, completing about fifty shallow wells and one Stapleton pay-zone well within the following six months.

After the southwest extension of the field was proved, the next development of interest took place on the Wilson farm in the E2, sec. 27, T. 25 S., R. 5 E., two and one-half miles east of the discovery well. Here, during April and May, A. L. Derby et al., in their well No. 1 (southeast corner NW NE), encountered a sand at 2,650 feet, nearly 200 feet deeper than the Stapleton pay zone in the Stapleton well. A production of between 500 and 1,000 barrels per day was developed in this Wilson well. The greater depth of the Wilson farm pay appeared to indicate a producing zone deeper than the Stapleton, but, as will appear later, it is believed that they are the same. A deep test well on the Adams farm, location No. 3 (center of east side NE SE, sec. 31, T. 25 S., R. 5 E.), was completed in the Stapleton oil zone a few weeks later, with an initial production similar to that of the Wilson well.

Other developments rapidly extended the field. Gas in paying quantities was discovered in porous limestones, not in definitely recognized sands, at several localities at depths ranging from 850 to 1,450 feet. A two-mile southward extension of the field was made in July by the bringing in of a 150-barrel well in a new oil "sand" at a depth of about 1,650 feet, the Boyer "sand" on the Boyer lease (location No. 1 in center of NW, NE, sec. 17, T. 26 S., R. 5 E.). The year 1916 closed with about 600 producing wells and a daily output estimated at more than 12,000 barrels. Most of these were drilled to the shallow sand only, and were located within two and one-half miles of the discovery well. No wells whatever had been brought in in T. 26 S., R. 4 E. (Towanda township), nor in the S2 of T. 26 S., R. 5 E., nor on the Wilson and Robinson domes in the northern part of T. 25 S., R. 5 E. It remained for the following year to develop these localities.

Development in the Eldorado field in 1917 was exceedingly spectacular, and T. 26 S., R. 4 E. (Towanda township), led in this respect. Before any startling events took place in this township, however, the first well on the Wilson dome (center of NW SE, sec. 8, T. 25 S., R. 5 E.) proved late in February that the 660-foot sand was productive on this structural feature. On March 23 the Stapleton pay zone was reached and a production of 350 barrels developed. This was the opening of the Wilson dome pool, which has since been shown to be separated from the main field by a narrow strip of barren territory. To return to Towanda township: In March the Alpine Oil Company obtained a 250-barrel well from the Stapleton pay zone in the northeast corner SE, sec. 10, on the Ralston lease. Well No. 2 on this lease (southeast corner NE SE, sec. 10) was reported to be worth about 500 barrels. At about the same time the Trapshooter Oil Company (later sold to the Eureka Oil Company) on the Williams & Walker lease, which offsets to the northeast, in section 11, the Alpine Oil Company's lease, brought in a Stapleton pay-zone well (southwest corner location in the NW) with a production about the same as that of Ralston No. 2. It remained, however, for the second Williams & Walker lease well (location No. 3 in the southeast corner SW NW), completed early in June, to be the first Eldorado gusher. Because tankage adequate only for an average well had been provided, the initial production of this gusher could only be estimated. These estimates range from 6,000 to 24,000 barrels per day, of which probably those near 14,000 barrels are nearest the real output. Even so, this production placed this well as one of the largest ever discovered in the Midcontinent field.

Plate V—--A, Panorama of developments in sections 10 and 11 of Towanda township.

Panorama of developments in sections 10 and 11 of Towanda township.

Contrary to the usual condition in similar large wells in other fields, the oil did not gush, in the popular sense of that word, i. e., it did not pour forth in a stream shooting high into the air. This absence of gushing is due, it seems, to a lack of dissolved gas, and in this 14,000 (?) barrel well the flow of oil did not run wild (out of control), but instead flowed a gentle, continuous stream that offered no difficulties whatever in controlling it. (See plate V, B.)

Plate V—--B, Trapshooter Oil Company's first gusher well.

Trapshooter Oil Company's first gusher well.

Following this first prolific well, developments in T. 26 S., R. 4 E., became intense, and numerous gusher wells, all producing from the Stapleton pay zone, were brought in, most of them located in section 11. An analysis of the initial productions of large wells drilled previous to 1919, and based on information believed to be reliable, is given in the following table.

Initial daily production capacities of Eldorado gusher wells drilled in 1917 and 1918.
5 wells had initial daily capacities of more than 15,000 bbls.
4 wells had initial daily capacities of less than 15,000 but more than 10,000 bbls.
4 wells had initial daily capacities of less than 10,000 but more than 5,000 bbls.
31 wells had initial daily capacities of less than 5,000 but more than 2,000 bbls.
57 wells had initial daily capacities of less than 2,000 but more than 1,000 bbls.
104 wells had initial daily capacities of less than 1,000 but more than 500 bbls.

The general decline of most of these large wells is comparatively rapid. One noteworthy exception, however, deserves especial mention. The Gypsy Oil Company's well No. 5 on the Shumway lease (center location along west side of SW NE, sec. 11, T. 26 S., R. 4 E.) was not only the most prolific well in the Eldorado pool, but probably produced more oil than any other well ever drilled in the Midcontinent field. Completed on September 7, 1917, and with the tools in the hole, the production for the first twenty-four hours was estimated by the company to be 12,000 barrels, and for the second twenty-four hours 14,000 barrels. On September 10 the flow was gauged for one hour, and amounted to 800 barrels, or at a rate for this hour of about 19,000 barrels per day. The tools remained in the hole until about Christmas, by which time the daily production had gradually declined to about 10,000 barrels. The removal of the tools at this time increased the daily production to about 14,000 barrels, after which it declined gradually until it amounted to 8,500 barrels on April 8, 1918. This was the day when well No. 13, located about 650 feet to the northeast, was brought in with a daily initial production of 17,000 barrels. The production of No. 5 seemed not to be affected by No. 13 for the first two days, but then a rapid decline set in and six days later its production was but 5,800 barrels, and after a few more days had ceased entirely. It is probable that during the 222 days of its flowing life its total production amounted to about 2,500,000 barrels.

Plate V—--C, Gypsy Oil Company's Shumway well No. 5.

Gypsy Oil Company's Shumway well No. 5.

In contrast to this long-lived gusher is the history of the Empire Gas and Fuel Company's Shriver farm well No. 3 (northeast corner NW sec. 14, T. 26 S., R. 4 E.), which when brought in, early in October, 1917, was reported to have flowed 144 barrels in nine minutes, or at the rate of about 23,000 barrels per day. The lack of available tankage caused the management to close in the well, but a few days later, when storage was available and the well opened, salt water instead of oil poured forth. A small production was later obtained.

The Smock pool, which is distinct from the main Eldorado field, was discovered early in March by the Haverhill Petroleum Company bringing in a 500-barrel well on the Smock farm (southwest corner location in NE, sec. 2, T. 27 S., R. 5 E.). The pay was found at a depth of 2,642-2,657 feet, and probably is in the Stapleton zone. The subsequent drilling in this vicinity has since developed a pool more than one and one-half miles long and hardly more than one-fourth mile wide.

Early in May the main Eldorado field was again extended, this time about two miles to the south, by the Page-Lewis Oil Company bringing in Koogler farm well No. 1 (northwest corner NE, sec. 30, T. 26 S., R. 5 E.), drilled to the Stapleton pay zone, found at a depth of 2,605 feet. The initial production obtained in the top of the pay zone was small, but on drilling deeper, late in August, the production increased to 500 barrels.

The next extension of importance was toward the northeast on the Robinson dome and took place early in August. It was the Theta Oil Company's L. W. Robinson farm well No. 1 (center location, along south line SW NE,, sec. 3, T. 25 S., R. 5 E.), which was reported to be good for 1,900 barrels, in the Stapleton pay zone. The producing area on this dome has been demonstrated to be separated from both the main field and the Wilson domes by barren territory.

The Sluss pool, located principally on the Sluss farm, in secs. 25 and 26, T. 26 S., R. 5 E., lying about one and one-half miles north of the Smock pool, was opened early in August by Messrs. Patton, Dingee & Davis, who drilled a well in the southeast corner NE SE, sec. 26, finding a pay zone at a depth of 2,688-2,785 feet, which probably should also be correlated with the Stapleton pay zone. The initial daily production of this well was about 100 barrels. Like the Smock pool, it too is structurally unrelated to production from the Eldorado anticline.

On August 26, 1917, in the main field a further extension to the south was proved by the bringing in by the McK Oil Company of an 800-barrel Stapleton pay-zone well in the northeast corner of sec. 31, T. 26 S., R. 5 E., on the Nuttle lease.

The year 1917 was principally a year of extensions. The limits of production were largely although not completely defined by the end of 1917. With the extensive developments of the prolific Stapleton pay zone during 1917, the production of the Eldorado field increased in proportion, and during a part of September exceeded 100,000 barrels per day.

An eastward extension of the production on the Robinson dome was developed in the W2, sec. 2, T. 25 S., R. 5 E., in 1918, and proved this territory to be richly productive. In contrast to 1917, the year 1918 was a period of intensive development, the drilling being principally on territory proved productive during 1917, i. e., inside drilling. With the great increase in number of wells, almost all of which were drilled to the Stapleton pay zone, a high production was maintained from March to September (see plate 11), and as a result the total production of 1918 nearly doubled that of 1917.

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Kansas Geological Survey, Geology
Placed on web July 28, 2017; originally published 1921.
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