China has started drilling thousands of metres beneath the surface of the Earth in an effort to study deep layers of the planet and uncover untapped resources.
The 457-day project will involve drilling a borehole 11,100 metres into the Earth – the first such Chinese project to exceed 10,000 metres.
The PetroChina project began last Tuesday in the Tarim Basin in China’s north-western region of Xinjiang, according to the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency.
With a design depth of 11,100 meters, the borehole is located in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, the largest desert in China.
Speaking to Xinhua, Lyu Xiaogang, from the Tarim oilfield branch of PetroChina, said: “The drilling of the borehole has two purposes: for scientific exploration and for finding oil and gas.
“Through drilling this borehole, we will strengthen PetroChina’s technology reserve for ultra-deep drilling and build more ultra-deep drilling equipment.”
The drilling equipment, including drill bits and drill pipes weighing more than 2,000 tonnes, are set to penetrate more than 10 continental strata, including the Cretaceous system – a series of stratified rocks dating back 145m years.
The equipment is designed to withstand underground temperatures of up to 200°C and an atmospheric pressure 1,300 times higher than on the Earth’s surface.
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