Wednesday, June 11, 2008

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Hassi R'Mel Oil Fields

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In 2006, oil and natural gas exports made up 98 per cent of Algeria's total exports. A major portion of these fuels came from the Hassi R'Mel gas fields, located about 550 km south of Algiers. The fields were discovered in 1956; initial production started in 1961, and it has since become one of the world's largest gas fields.

These two satellite images show the dramatic development of the area in the last three decades. In the 1972 image, changes to the landscape are minor compared to the 2000 image, which reveals vastly expanded infrastructure, mainly related to the gas fields. The high resolution image from 2005 shows more detail (see photo panel below).

In addition to gas production, Algeria began building a hybrid gas and solar power generating facility at Hassi R'Mel in July 2007. It will produce 150 megawatts of electricity, with 25 megawatts coming from 180 000 m2 of parabolic reflectors. The first of its kind, this facility is expected to be operating by 2010. By 2020 Algeria hopes to be exporting 6 000 megawatts of power to Europe—roughly the equivalent of 10 per cent of Germany's current consumption.
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