I saw two old oilmen loading a truck. I approached them to chat about the volcano. The one on the back of truck did not pay attention. The other seemed friendly by responding me when I pointed volcano to him. He was unaware of it. Then he gave me a talk more than I needed. But he gave a green light to walk further up to the hilltop.

***

Lokbatan Mud Volcano in distance
Lökbatan Mud Volcano in the horizon

Lökbatan Mud Volcano is huge. It is a camel-like shape. It is massive. It is a monument. It changes how you perceive monument and monumentality.

It took my breath out while climbing up to the top. You need hours to explore the area.

It is the most active among volcanoes in Absheron and presumably one of the most in the world, too. It erupted 23 times in two centuries. YouTube has footage of flaring during one these eruptions. The Last one was in 2014 (the same year Keyreki did erupt). Yet I could hardly remember it making any news headlines, even this famous BBC coverage I found while researching.

Thankfully, Lökbatan volcano locates in a quite distance from the closest residential settlement, Lökbatan town. However, people are still not safe. I meant Azerbaijani oilmen, the most underrated maintainers of the backbone of our economy.

Sealed oil well
Sealed oil well

***

I noticed SOCAR sign in the entry but I walked in straight without attending notices on the entry board. The old oilman was actually encouraged me.

I recognized some sort of order in the area right away. Bulldozers were operated under supervision, oil derricks and sealed oil wells.

Oil derricks
Oil Derricks

The territory of Lökbatan volcano is actually owned by SOCAR. The slop and flat lands are still exploited for oil. The oil derricks are everywhere and their well is connected to pipeline networks so the oil extracted flows directly into barrels.

***

I reluctantly walked into three working oilmen who wore overall covered in oil and mazut. They were of different ages: young, middle-aged and old. Behind of them is a drill-rig running maintenance of an oil well.

– I greeted them and asked about the volcano.

– The young were suspicious of me and did not disturb himself away from his duty. But the other two was easygoing.

– Nonetheless, all three noted that it is prohibited to see the volcano.

– Well, how come? I have walked all the way up here and yet no one is prohibiting me [speaking to myself inaudibly].

– The middle aged even tried to frighten me with a possibility of police seeing me. Then the young warned me that I could make myself a trouble if I do not go away.

– The old breaks ices telling me I can walk up to hill from other side of the hill which is accessible by road. He also told me to give a visit to the volcano in Gobu, too.

So I did bypass them walking a circle around the foothill.

***

Mud-Cone
Camel-like shaped Mud-cone

I am about two hundred metres away from volcano cone. I see and slowly walk to it. Bu then I had a glance of a young guy jumping off the truck, then whistling and moving towards me.

He was an oilman, too, I realized when he approached me. He was gentlemen and politely explained that this is a prohibited area. One needs permission from SOCAR governing body of this land in order to visit.

He also complained  that it is oilmen like we who are negatively affected my media coverage of this land.

Soviet relic in area
Soviet relics in the vicinity

To be continued…

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