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Standing fast on desert to keep central heating


Workers from the Hongliu Compressor Station of the Petro China West Pipeline Company stand fast in the desert at an altitude of 1,617 meters. [Photo from sinomach.com.cn]

Wang Biao, a 29-year-old young man from Hainan province, has worked at the Hongliu Compressor Station for four years. [Photo from sinomach.com.cn]

The hanging filter of the Hongliu Compressor Station [Photo from sinomach.com.cn]

Located in the hinterland of the extremely dry desert nature reserve in Northwest China’s Gansu province, the Hongliu Compressor Station of the Petro China West Pipeline Company undertakes natural gas transmission, filtering and pressurization in the East-West natural gas transmission project.

Among the 37 workers standing fast in the desert at an altitude of 1,617 meters, which experiences large temperature differences day and night, Wangbiao, from Hainan province, is a technical backbone of the station.

A 29-year-old young man joined the station in 2009, and the ordeal of atrocious weather and leading a lonely life for four years have made him an expert among his colleagues. Because of the East-West natural gas transmission project, about 400 million people can enjoy central heating to fend off the bitter cold in winter. That’s what makes the young man feel worthwhile.

The compressor set, whose power equals that of the engine of a Boeing 747 aircraft, is the core equipment of the station. Originally, the set’s maintenance each time cost huge sums of money, because the technology was held by foreign companies. Wang and three other colleagues devoted themselves to the task, overcame lots of difficulties and practiced again and again. Eventually, they grasped the technology after two months.

“What gave me the most sense of achievement was repairing a compressor and listening to the rumbling sound of the gas transmission,” said Wang.

Hongliu Compressor Station implements a 24-hour shift, with all staff having their mobile phones on all day long, so that they can deal with emergencies at any time.

Wang said the pace of work often continues through the holidays, and when the phone rings and wakes him at night, his first reaction is to check whether there is something wrong with the compressor.

Workers planted several trees at the gate of the station years ago, which have taken root and sprouted. Wang said, “We are like the trees in the desert, fulfilling our responsibilities to keep the western energy channel safe and smooth.”

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