In 1956, two discoveries were made in the Algerian desert that were to change the course of the country’s history. One was Hassi Messaoud, a giant oil field in Ouargla province 550km inland and 300km west of the border with Tunisia. The other was Hassi R’Mel, also a giant hydrocarbons discovery but this time of gas, 300km northwest of Hassi Messaoud and 450km south of Algiers.
Between them these two fields transformed Algeria’s economy. Hassi Messaoud remains the largest oil producer in Algeria today, and Hassi R’Mel remains dominant for gas. They are at the heart of a network of oil, gas, condensate and LPG pipelines linking the country’s hydrocarbons production to coastal export terminals at Arzew in the northwest and Skikda in the northeast, and to the Maghreb-Europe pipeline via Morocco to Spain, the Trans-Med pipeline to Italy via Tunisia, and the subsea Medgaz pipeline that connects Beni Saf in the northeast to Almeria in Spain. Without the network of trunk pipelines that meet at the two hubs, sizeable discoveries such as those made at In Amenas in the southeast and In Salah in the southwest, both hundreds of kilometres deeper into the desert, would have had no route to market (see map). (CONTINUED - 2830 WORDS)