The Pipelines of Dushanzi

The Relics of Empire: Resource Extraction and the Making of Modern Xinjiang

The Pipelines of Dushanzi

Oil production has shaped the town of Dushanzi. In the neighborhoods closest to the refinery the pipelines are ubiquitous, constructed above sidewalks and over roads, shaping the everyday life of local residents and offering an inescapable reminder of the oil-soaked foundations of this small town. The first modern oil refinery in Xinjiang, and indeed China’s far west, was constructed at Dushanzi in 1937, with Soviet capital and technical help. The large-scale PetroChina refinery, which was built on top of this foundation, today sprawls into the steppe north of town.