Deep into the Caspian Sea, just a hundred kilometers away from the Azerbaijani capital called Baku, is one of the most incredible settlements that the world has ever seen. It’s a fully functional city with 3,000 people living there in e network of oil platforms and artificial islands that are connected by 300 km’s of trestle bridges.
This is Neft Daslari, also known has OIl Rocks, which is all within a lake which is an incredible distance of 55 km’s from the lake’s shore.
Azerbaijan has been famed for it’s very rich oil resources ever since the ancient times. There’s also evidence of oil drilling and an actual trade in petroleum as early as the 3rd and 4th centuries. Historical accounts the area’s own oil and natural gas seepage which can be found in an old Arabic and Persian manuscripts, as well as in writings of some very famous travellers like the Marco Polo, the Persians also called the area the “Land of FIre”.
It all started in 1870 just after Russia had conquered this territory, just at the beginning of the first World War. The oil wells of Azerbaijan were already supplying 175 million barrels of crude oil every year, or about 75% of the countries own crude oil production.
Just after the war, during the exploration of oil in the Caspian Sea, some Soviet engineers came up with some high quality oil at a depth of only 1,100 meters below the seabed. Just after that, the world’s first offshore oil platform was built on the spot, then Neft Daslari had begun.
The very first foundation of Neft Daslari had been seven sunken ships including the world’s first oil tanker. Over the years this grew into some 2,000 drilling platforms that are spread across a 30-kilometer circle, while being joined by a network of bridge viaducts that span about 300 kilometers.
Over these platforms, workers built some eight-story apartment blocks, a beverage factory, soccer pitch, library, bakery, laundry, a 300 seater cinema, a bathhouse, a vegetable garden and even a tree-lined parked which the soil was brought in from the mainland.
During the heydays, about 5,000 workers had actually lived in this town. The decline of Neft Daslari had started with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discovery of newer oil fields elsewhere as well.
The force of workers was reduced by many oil rigs which were abandoned (not all of them however). The neglect and lack of maintenance caused many of them to collapse into the sea.
Some others are in the process of crumbling out of the 300 kilometers of roads, with only 45 kilometers remaining usable, and even they have fallen into disrepair. To the government, though, this place is still the proud, closely guarded secret it was during Soviet times, and it is still very hard to gain access to the city itself. You can’t even zoom in on it on Google Maps unfortunately.
via Amusing Planet