Oil Derrick in Karamay

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

Oil Derrick in Karamay

Oil derricks are ubiquitous in and around the town of Karamay. As geologists continue to investigate the limits of the “ocean of oil” (youhai) that lies beneath the Zungarian Basin, planners continuously push the limits of the oil field outward. Today, “district 9” at Baijiantan, north of Karamay, is the epicenter of oil-extraction operations. The landscape is desolate, surrounded by rocky desert (gebi) with brown treeless mountains in the distance and oil derricks silently pumping the ground as far as the eye can see.