Chinese Reports of Power Theft from Oilfield Show Hunger for Cryptojacking


New reports of Chinese residents in the Heilongjiang province, in the country’s northeast corner within driving distance of both Mongolia and North Korea, provides a prime example of how cryptocurrency mining can influence actual grassroots decisions in the real world.

Tech news outlets are reporting today on coverage from a Chinese state-backed newspaper showing that local police responded to a tip call from a top manager of an oilfield, and used drones to surveil the location.

What the police found, according to reports, was cables laid stealthily through fish ponds to reach the oil well power infrastructure and essentially cryptojack the equipment in order to mine Bitcoin.

It’s a move reminiscent of the kind of activity you see in squatter communities, where off the grid residents pilfer things like water and electricity.

This is also by no means the only case of Chinese residents sneaking away with other people’s energy in order to enrich themselves from cryptocurrency mining: these types of reports have popped up in more than one area of the mainland and also in Taiwan.

In the United States, we tend to see cryptojacking as an aggregated activity – hackers remotely specific sneak into systems and devices and, like the would-be criminals in Mike Judge’s Office Space, just take a little bit of something at a time, so that no one notices.

It’s one thing to create an application that utilizes a small percentage of smartphone power, and yet another thing to tunnel through a fish pond to hook up electrical lines to commercial power. For one thing, you get your arms wet.

But both represent the kinds of disruptions that cryptocurrency mining is injecting into our societies.

Whether it’s the Middle Kingdom with its enormous population and huge mining pools, or the United States, where regulators are trying to get a handle on cryptocurrencies, nations need to understand that where there is sugar, the ants will go – not to be pejorative – that average people, like world leaders and business moguls, will seek to enrich themselves by any practical ways possible.

This phenomenon is also news for cryptocurrency investors because it contributes to the regulatory equation and the role of cryptocurrencies in our lives. To the extent that nations can successfully regulate and control cryptocurrency activities, large institutions may be more likely to buy in and create growth around particular coins and blockchains.