The inscription of the minister of Ministry of Petroleum Industry of China in 1985 is “The first oil well in the mainland of China”. Later in 1992 Shaanxi province put the well into the list of key cultural relic site under protection, and in 1996 into the list of key cultural relic site under the state protection by the State Council.
Yanchang county drilled the first oil well in mainland China in 1907, and built up the first refining house in mainland of China in October the same year. The lamp oil product then was well praised for its quality as good as imported. This terminated the oil infertility history of mainland China and filled a blank page of national industry, thus laid the foundation of petroleum processing in China.
In Spring 1934, the National Committee of Defense Design of Nanjing Government agreed with Shaanxi provincial government on setting up a department of northern Shaanxi oil exploration, with Sun Yueqi being the chief. Local offices were set up in Yanchang and Yongping. On April 18, the three equipments imported from Germany and the United States, and the drill fittings customized from Shanghai, approximately 100 tons in total, arrived in Yanchang and Yongping respectively on September 5, by train, automobile, wooden boat, or by donkey or manpower. Sun Yueqi organized a drilling team with more than 100 people. On the basis of the backbone employees from Beijing and Tianjin, he also adopted drilling workers from the Yanchang official plant of petroleum.
The Exploration Department of Northern Shaanxi Oilfield drilled four wells in Yanchang, and reached the rich oil at the 101 meter depth, with the production of 1.6 tons on the initial day. It drilled three wells in Yongping. Where the well 201 reached the oil at the depth of 104 meters. It produced 3 tons on the initial day. Thus Yongping oilfield was discovered.
Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army took over Yanchang Petroleum Plant in 1935. The plant then developed gasoline, kerosene, wax candle, wax sheet and plate, rifle bore cleaning oil, Vaseline, etc., vigorously supported the anti Japanese war and the war of liberation. Petro-Yanchang became one of the main economic supports to the border government of Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia.
On June 18, 1938, the Resource Committee of National Government wrote to the Hankou office of the Eighteenth Group Army to request to move two drills and the attached equipments in Yanchang Petroleum Plant, to Yumen. On the approval of Zhou Enlai, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the removing workers arrived in northern Shaanxi in the latter part of August. In cooperation with the plant, they removed two sets of drilling equipment, including two sets of boiler and steamer, 12 pipes, drill bits, drill stems, steel wire cable, etc., more than 30 tons in total. When everything was ready for transport, the National government didn’t dispatch vehicles. It was not until the continuous dispatch of vehicles by headquarter of the Eighth Route Army could the two drills with attachments be completely moved to Xianyang and be forwarded to Yumen.
In August 1939, Yumen Oilfield, using the drill aided by the border area of Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia, drilled the first oil production well at Laojundian, Yumen, thus initiated the development of Yumen Oilfield.
“Qijiajing” well sat in the middle of the hillside north of “the first land well”. Drilling began in spring 1940 and reached a depth of 170 meters in autumn, with 1.6 tons of production on the initial day. Plus the production of the old well, the plant could expand its production. Workers called it “Qijiajing” well.
There were no complete drill machines then, so staff and workers relied on their own hands for drill repairing and parts replacing, using wooden wares instead of iron ones. Except the four six inch corner posts, the rest of the derrick was timber work. Even the steamer base, the bearing posts and beams in the transmission mechanism, are made of timber blocks. With impact drilling, driven by steamer, they struck, along the mouth, the rock layer flooded with water with a steel drill of ten inches in diameter. After a few hours they lifted the drill bit, drew the stone dregs with well-bucket, and irrigated the well with pure water to strike. They normally advanced more than one meter in 24 hours. In tenacious combat, they completed the well 19 – “Qijiajing”, the first oil well drilled by Yanchang Oilfield after liberation.
Chen Zhenxia (1904~1981) is of Chongming, Shanghai native. His work was highly praised by Mao Zedong (in a talk on May 22, 1944) and the Liberation Daily (in the editorial article on the May Day). He was elected in 1944 and 1945 as the top grade industrial model operator and the top grade hero labor respectively. Mao Zedong wrote in inscription: “Immerse in hard work” and “Hero in the battle line of production”. Thus “Immerse in hard work” became the enterprise spirit of Yanchang Petroleum Plant.
A Japanese technician Zuotengmilang together with assistants came to Yanchang in February 1907 to make a geological exploration around the town, and located the well position out of the west gate, and drilled the “Yanyijing” well.
A Japanese doctor of science Dazhongzhuanyi and more came to Yanchang in 1901 to make geological exploration, and “found four oilfields, plotted four graphs”, located 35 wells.
In 1914 the Northern Warlords signed the “Contract of Sino American Joint Venture of Oil Mine” with the United States, starting Pili Petroleum Company. The Americans spent three years in geological exploitation covering 50,000 square km in Yanchang county, resulting in a 1:12,000 map of over 100 square km. They drilled seven oil wells, but unfortunately with little oil. As a geologist once commented “none of the oil wells is of industrial value.”