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Book Chapter

Oil and Gas

January 01, 1975


Petroleum as fuel for oil lamps has long been known to the inhabitants of China. The author of the Han Shu refers in the section Tili Chih (Description of Land) to “water of the River Wei that burns” [24, ch.28-2, p.6a]. The River Wei Ho is in the present province of Shensi. Similar references can be found in other Chinese ancient books, such as Po Wu Chih [75, ch.2 p.6b], and Mengchi Pit’an. In the latter the author writes that “local people collect fat floating on the water” in the counties of Yenchang and Yenchuan (both in Shensi), but that “burning of the fat gives too much smoke,” and suggests using the smoke-black for the manufacturing of ink [76, ch.24, p.2a]. Thus, local inhabitants knew about the existence of oil in Shensi, one of the oil-bearing regions in China, long before modern exploitation. The same applies to another large oil-bearing region in China, that of Karamai in the Sinkiang-Uighur Autonomous Region. “Karamai” is an Uignur word meaning ”black oil.” The name of the place is fairly old, which suggests that the Uighurs knew of oil in the region before proper prospecting started [1, 26.8.59, p.2].

Modern prospecting for oil in China begins with surveying by Europeans. In 1891 a French missionary with the Chinese name of Kou Te-jui (the original name has not been found) visited Szechwan Province, and reported oil seepages around Tzuliuching (now Tzukung) in Fushun county [5, p.488]. In 1903 a German named Hannocken representing the Shihchang

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GSA Microform Publication

Mineral Resources of China

A. B. Ikonnikov
A. B. Ikonnikov
Department of Economics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National Universtiy
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Geological Society of America
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Publication date:
January 01, 1975




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