An industrial settlement 100 miles off the coast of Baku, Azerbaijan, Neft Daşları (Neftyanyye Kamni or Nerftekamni in Russian) is a complete town on the sea. The first oil platform in Azerbaijan, Neft Daşları was also the first operating offshore oil platform in the world.
What began as a single path out over the water in 1959 slowly grew into a full city over the years as paths and platforms were built on the back of ships that were submerged into the sea to serve as a foundation for the expanding structure. With a population of about 5,000 today, Neft Daşları is constructed on top of landfill, dirt, and other industrial detritus tossed out into the water.
After two years of construction, in 1951, Neft Daşları was ready for production. Oil tanks were installed and drilling platforms erected and the city’s first oil was tanked out that same year. The city expanded so quickly in the first decade of operation that nine-story hotels, cultural palaces, bakeries, and other sites were built up by 1958. Two decades later another boom (1976-1978) saw the construction of a five-story dormitory and two oil-gas compressor stations. Those years also brought residents a drinking water facility, two underwater pipelines, and a flyover for vehicular traffic.
When the 60th anniversary of Neft Daşları was celebrated in November 2009, it was announced that the city had produced, since its founding, more than 170 million tons of oil and plenty of natural gas. It’s unclear what will happen to the city and its residents when the oil reserves buried deep under the sea run dry. It is estimated that the reserves could hold only 30 million more tons.