Oil production in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee in 1977 totaled 38,399,000 bbl, down 1.5% from 1976. Gas production in Kentucky was 61 Bcf, a decline of 7.9%; gas production in the other states is insignificant. Oil and gas drilling tests numbered 2,962, down 4% from 1976. Exploratory tests totaled 1,041, up 6.1%; 246 (23.6%) were successful.

Tennessee had 244 oil and gas tests in 1977, up 13.5% from 1976. The number of exploratory wells increased 5.5%; development drilling increased 76%. The success ratio for both categories improved slightly. No tests were drilled west of the axis of the Nashville dome. Scott, Fentress, and Morgan Counties continued to be the most active. Footage for all 1977 tests totaled 401,544, of which 267,497 ft was exploratory. Carbonate rocks of Mississippian age, especially the Fort Payne and Monteagle limestones, continued as the important pay zones in 1977 exploratory drilling. Shallow Mississippian gas pays in northern Cumberland Plateau counties are attracting increasing attention. In 1977 a single deep test was drilled in eastern Coffee County and was plugged after reaching total depth in a Cambrian(?) arkosic sandstone, but details have not been released. Crude oil production in Tennessee in 1977 was 819,655 bbl, an increase of 36.9%.

Illinois had 1,105 oil and gas tests in 1977, down 15.8% from 1976. Exploratory tests numbered 241, down 2.4%, and were 17.4% successful. Footage drilled, including service wells, totaled 3,114,384, down 5.8%. Testing of the Salem Limestone (Valmeyeran) highlighted drilling activity in Illinois. Salem production was discovered in 9 fields. Keenville field, Wayne County, was outstanding; 42 Salem wells, with average initial production of 161 BOPD, were completed in the field in 1977; Salem production is about 3,600 ft deep. Less important, but significant, was the testing of the Ullin Limestone immediately below the Salem; Ullin production was discovered in 9 fields. Most of the Salem and Ullin activity centered in Wayne and Clay Counties. More than half of all the oil and gas tests went to the Salem or deeper; 6 unsuccessful tests were drilled to depths greater than 6,000 ft. Despite the contributions of deeper drilling, crude oil production in Illinois in 1977 was only 25,608,000 bbl, down 2.5% from 1976.

Indiana had 608 oil and gas tests, up 22.1% from 1976. Exploratory drilling increased from 196 wells to 279 and development drilling, from 290 wells to 329. Exploratory footage totaled 630,340–159,333 ft were successful. Exploratory wells were 24.0% successful. Development of Salem Limestone reservoirs in Gibson and Knox Counties contributed much to drilling activity. Interest in deeper strata is indicated by the 94 deeper pool tests drilled in 1977 (21.3% successful) as compared with 29 in 1976. The search for oil in the deeper strata of the Union-Bowman Consolidated field in Knox, Gibson, and Pike Counties found production in the St. Louis, Salem, and Harrodsburg Limestones. Interest in the deeper Mississippian rocks in southwestern Indiana is expected to continue during 1978. A significant new-field discovery was Vollmer field, Knox County, in August; the discovery well had an initial daily oil production of 42 bbl/hr and settled production of 600 BOPD from an oolitic break in the Ste. Genevieve Limestone; average initial production of the 12 oil wells reported by year end was 177 BOPD. Estimated oil production in Indiana in 1977 was 5,400,000 bbl, up 770,000 bbl from 1976.

In Kentucky 1,005 oil and gas tests were drilled in 1977, down from 1,073 in 1976. The 365 exploratory tests, down from 373 in 1976, resulted in 51 oil wells and 22 gas wells, a success of 20.0%. Development wells were 60.6% successful, resulting in 262 oil wells and 126 gas wells. Discoveries consisted of 6 fields, 10 new-pool wildcat successes, 10 deeper pools, 20 shallower pools, and 27 extensions. A discovery in western Kentucky, an extension to Cadiz field in Trigg County, had an initial production of 100 Mcf from New Albany Shale; apparently the Devonian shale in this area, although thin compared with that in the Big Sandy gas field in eastern Kentucky, can be commercially productive. In Webster County, a deep test was dry in the Cambrian at 15,200 ft TD. Crude oil production in Kentucky in 1977 was 6,571,000 bbl, down 12.2% from 1976.

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