During the initial drilling phase, a cluster of 10-20 wells may be drilled from a surface location that is about the area of a football pitch. Once the rig is moved and the production phase begins the well-site can be reduced to a much smaller area, varying in size from three tennis courts to half the size of a typical football pitch.
As multiple horizontal wells can be drilled today from a single well-site and each can extend a kilometer or more in different directions, far fewer drilling sites are required and the footprint for exploration is tiny compared to the large subsurface area from which gas is potentially gathered.
Viable sources of unconventional gas can sometimes be found in small, isolated zones within a few meters of each other. Horizontal drilling helps to minimize the surface disruption, as a single drill site, or well pad, can contain several wells. More than 20 target zones can be can be fractured in one day, reducing disruption to the local community.