The Discovery of Daqing Oilfield in China
Daqing oilfield, the largest oilfield in China, was discovered in 1959. Four years later the field reached full scale development, producing 22.2 million barrels (3 million tons) of crude oil, which accounted for about half of China’s domestic production in that year. Prior to the discovery of Daqing, oil fields such as Yanchang, Yumen, Karamay etc, were largely found in the west of the country in old marine depositional basins. The Chinese geoscientists developed a theory of terrestrial oil generation and evoked the exploration strategic shift from the west to the east to non-marine depositional basins like Songliao, which ultimately resulted in the Daqing oilfield discovery.
Since 1955, the Ministry of Geology (MOG) and the Ministry of Petroleum Industry (MPI) jointly explored the Songliao basin through geophysical prospecting work and delineated the structural anticline belt. By the late September of 1959, MPI drilled the discovery well, Songji 3, and obtained about 148 barrels per day (20 tons/day) of commercial flow from Lower Cretaceous reservoirs. This discovery proved that the hydrocarbon system existed in the Songliao basin. Followed by 3 more exploration wells on structure highs, all had a commercial flow. The exploration drilling had proved about 920 km2 of oil-bearing area in Daqing oil field.
Unfortunately, by this time, the Soviet Union announced its intention to stop for their technical and economic aid to China. As a result of this action, China had to develop the entire field on its own. In the early 1960s, with the support from the central Chinese communist party and the state council, MPI mobilized nearly the whole country to campaign the field development which achieved a remarkable outcome. In 1964, the Daqing oilfield produced almost half of China’s oil and made the country self-sufficient in oil. From 1976 to 2002, Daqing maintained its plateau of oil 1 million barrels/day (500 million tons/year), a period of 27 years and produced a cumulative total of 13 billion barrels (1.8 billion tons).
Today, looking back at the history of the Daqing discovery, many Chinese scholars still argue about who discovered the oilfield. Due to the political influence and academic bias, there is no widely accepted consensus in Chinese academia on this question. However, three Chinese geologists, Li Siguang, Huang Jiqing, and Xie Jiarong are generally regarded as key contributors to the Daqing discovery.
AAPG Datapages/Search and Discovery Article #90323 ©2018 AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 20-23, 2018