Photographs by Vincent Prado
Text by Dimitri Beck
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Black Gold
In Kazakhstan, the wells of Makat and Dossor are emptying of their last drops of hydrocarbons, 3 million tons of yellow sulfur are being stored at Tengiz, in blockhouses as long as an Olympic stadium and as high as a two story building. Meanwhile, at sea, Kashagan confirms the oil future of the country.

On the Azeri site of Bibi Heyat, riddled with holes, the pumps swing back and forth with the rhythm of a metronome, laboring monotonously, tirelessly pumping. In the middle of a derrick forest, the oil workers squelch through pools of oil and grapple with equipment that dates back to the Stalin era. On these same deserted stretches of land, those who have been forgotten by the black gold rush are confined to poor neighborhoods. Housing amounts to a patchwork of sheet metal and collected wooden boards.

Back out at sea, the Neft Dachlari complex is a journey back in time. "If we had been in a capitalist system, this project would have never seen the light of day" says Chahin Ismaïlov, the chief engineer on the site. In the 1960’s, the site was the jewel of offshore oilfields for the Soviet Union. These days the pile system is falling into ruin, though it continues against the odds to function.

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