(CNN) — Engineers in China on Thursday landed a new super-deep well that penetrates the Earth’s crust, as the country steps up its search for natural resources hidden thousands of meters underground.
The hole will reach 10,520 meters above ground in southwest China’s Sichuan basin, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The region is an important area for gas production and engineers will find natural gas reserves there, the report said.
The announcement comes just weeks after China began drilling another very deep well on Earth, at a depth of 11,100 meters. The project is located in the Tarim Basin in northwest China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
When completed, they will be between the two deepest man-made wells in the world. However, they may not be deep.
That record is currently held by the now-defunct Kola super-deep well in northwestern Russia, a Soviet-era scientific drilling project that took 20 years to complete and reached 40,000 feet.
These very deep holes extend from top to bottom of Mount Everest, which is about 8,800 meters high.
Humans have been to the moon, but we have only scratched the surface of our planet when we explore the Earth deep beneath our feet.
Drilling deeper allows scientists to learn more about how the Earth’s crust formed, serving as a geological timeline of the world’s formation.
But there are also strong commercial incentives: tap the lucrative energy reserves buried deep below.
Both companies involved in Chinese wells are major state-owned oil companies.
The latest project in the Sichuan Basin is operated by PetroChina Southwest Oil and Gasfield Co, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, one of China’s largest state-owned energy companies, Xinhua reported.
Describing it as a “hugely significant” move, state media said it was “aimed at exploring deep-buried resources while advancing key technology and improving the capacity of China’s oil and gas engineering equipment.”
“Drilling will further reveal the secrets of the evolution under the Sinian Formation,” he said, referring to the way the rocks in the Sichuan basin are laid out.
PetroChina Southwest Oil deputy chief engineer Chen Lilly told state media that he expects to overcome a series of “world-class challenges” during the drilling process.
Xinjiang previously unveiled the plan, which Xinhua called a “telescope” at the deepest end of the Earth, with its 2,000-tonne design poised to penetrate more than 10 continental layers.
The drilling system can withstand temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius and forces 1,700 times greater than atmospheric pressure, he said.
In May, Sinopec Corp said it encountered significant oil and gas flows from an exploratory well 8,591 meters below the surface in the Tarim Basin, Reuters reported.
China, the world’s second largest economy and the world’s largest carbon emitter, has huge energy needs. Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared future energy security a national security priority.
China Becomes World Leader in Renewable Energy: China is on track to double its wind and solar power capacity and meet its 2030 clean energy goals five years early, according to a recent report.
But it remains the world’s largest producer of planet-warming pollution, and coal production is on the rise.
The United States is the second largest carbon emitter in the world.
US climate envoy John Kerry met Chinese officials in Beijing this week to call for swift action to tackle the climate crisis.
G didn’t meet with Kerry this week. But during the visit, Kerry told the National Conference on Environmental Protection China’s commitment to its two carbon goals — peak carbon by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 — according to state news agency Xinhua. However, he clarified that “the way, manner, speed and intensity of achieving this goal must be determined by ourselves and never influenced by others.”