Once the company makes the decision to move ahead with development in a particular area, it may proceed with development drilling at several different locations throughout the project area. When it returns to an exploration site, the operator often begins drilling multiple wells, also known as infilling. Activities at such a site, which may have been dormant for a while, ramp up during this intense phase of construction, site development, and drilling. The site operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The workforce also grows to its largest size with staff engaged in site operations, transportation of materials and equipment, and support activities. As certain jobs require specialized skills and training, many of the workers may be brought in from outside the local area.
The construction and well development activities described in the exploratory drilling phase intensify as multiple wells are built on the pad. The company installs equipment for processing the oil or natural gas produced at the site. Additional infrastructure may also be built, including flowlines that carry gas, oil, and other fluids at or near the wellhead, gathering lines that transport the oil or gas to a central collection point, and transmission pipelines that take the product to market. New processing facilities and compressor stations may also be needed in the area. (See Appendix E for additional information about pipelines.)
When a site moves to development and into production, the company has been present in the community for months, possibly years, and has likely developed relationships with local stakeholders. Now that the company is committed to development in the area, it will need to maintain a productive engagement with the community over the life of the project.