China is drilling a hole into the Earth’s crust in the Taklimakan Desert in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang province to explore and study the unknown.
About the project: China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil producer, is heading the project, which began on Tuesday. Scientists aim to pierce through more than 10 layers of the Earth’s crust with a planned depth of over 10,000 meters (approximately 32,808 feet or 6.2 miles) to reach the Cretaceous system, which consists of stratified rocks dating back 145 million years.
The project is expected to take 457 days and will use underground drilling technologies and equipment that weigh more than 2,000 tons. It aims to gather data on the Earth’s internal structure for geoscience research, which could also help scientists discover minerals and learn more about the risks of environmental disasters.
Finding resources: In 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged scientists to pursue deep Earth exploration, stressing the need for energy resources. The Xinjiang area reportedly consists of rich mineral deposits and oil.
The petroleum corporation also hopes to find natural resources.
“Drilling the borehole has two purposes: for scientific exploration and finding oil and gas,” Lyu Xiaogang of PetroChina told New China TV. “
Through drilling this borehole, we will strengthen PetroChina’s technology reserve for ultra-deep drilling and build more ultra-deep drilling equipment. The second purpose is to explore new areas for ultra-deep oil and gas in the region.”