Millions of land mines and unexploded artillery shells left over from World War II are hampering Egypt's efforts to get at a treasure trove of oil and gas beneath the desert, der Spiegel reports. The ordnance is an unwelcome reminder of the North African conflict between Brits and Erwin Rommel’s Nazi forces.
Northwest Egypt has an estimated 5 billion barrels of oil, along with natural gas and ore, under the sand. That’s enough to make it a major player in OPEC—if it weren’t for the 22 million mines, shells, and other ordnance. "The northwest coast is one of the greatest promises for Egypt,” says the national director for mine clearance. “But the mines deny access to a landmass of approximately 22 percent of the national territory."