While it looks like an unused set for the movie Waterworld, Neft Dashlari isn’t just the world’s first offshore oil rig, it’s elevated platforms have become home to a fairly unique urban community with nothing but waterfront property.
In 1945 the USSR found oil deposits at the bottom of the Caspian Sea, 45 km off the coast of Azerbaijan. They built a giant multiplatform rig in order to drill that location. As more deposits were discovered nearby, the Soviets built an extensive network of over 200 miles of roadways to connect them with the main hub.
By 1958, construction at Neft Dashlari (“Oil Rocks”) really picked up. Accomodations were built for the several-thousand workers (who work in stints of one week on the rig, one week off), which include apartment buildings up to nine storeys tall. In addition to housing, the platforms have a library, hospital, bakery, community centre (dvorets kultury, or “Palace of Culture”), and even a tree-filled park.
Though the site is still running, it is in a terrible state of disrepair. Miles of the roadways have now collapsed or otherwise submerged and the buildings haven’t fared much better; the waterline at some of the dormitories reaches the second storey.
Although a third of the complex’s 600 wells are depleted or now inaccessible, so long as the oil is still pumping, people will be living at the Oil Rocks.