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Sahara

Day 73: Hassi-Messaoud

Hassi-Messaoud 
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Algeria's Aladdin's Cave. Oil pipes and flares foul the desert near Hassi-Messaoud but, along with natural gas, the fields provide 90 per cent of the country's foreign earnings.
Michael Palin - SaharaGlass Eye? Some nasty infection carried by blowing sand?

No, Glass Eye is a bandit who steals vehicles and reads Islamic tracts to his captives.

Ah, this is beginning to sound familiar. Does he ride around at the head of a fleet of Land Cruisers full of armed men?

General nodding. That's the man.

Also known as Louar, the One-Eyed One?

They seem awfully impressed with my information. I'm awfully impressed by Glass Eye's range. We're 800 miles from the border, where I first heard of him.

To be honest, they're happier talking about hydrocarbons than one-eyed bandits. This doesn't make for jolly banter, but it's interesting to learn that the oil which has paid for Hassi-Messaoud, the Salle Bleue and this six-course dinner is no longer the biggest money-spinner for Algeria. They currently produce less than Britain's North Sea fields. Natural gas reserves, I'm told, put her fourth in the world league after Russia, the USA and Canada.

Our hosts are determined that, before we move on, we should visit the gas production plant, 200 miles northwest. There is a plane that leaves every morning, at half past six. Irresistible.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 73
  • Country/sea: Algeria
  • Place: Hassi-Messaoud
  • Book page no: 204

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