WWII Mines Block Egypt's Access to Oil

4.8B barrels of crude lie under 22M mines, shells in desert
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2008 6:27 PM CDT
The sun rises over a military convoy during preparations for a joint US and Egyptian commandoes unit exercise, part of the Bright Star Maneuvers, in the desert of Egypt, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Nasser...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – 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."