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Saharan Algeria

Travel Hassi Messaoud, Cities, Travel Destinations

Hassi Messaoud is not only a town but also a watering hole and a major oilfield in southeast Algeria. While it has only really gained significance in more recent years due to the large oil reservoirs in the area, the town has been around for many, many years.

In the Arab language “Hassi Messaoud” means “blessed well”. It is easy to understand why a simple watering spot could gain such a favorable name when one considers the dry sandy deserts that surround it. Hassi Messaoud probably started life as a small village that sprang up around this important watering hole. As travelers and traders made their way across the hot and barren Sahara desert they would need, not only a place to water their animals and quench their thirsts, but a place where they could replenish their supplies, enjoy good company and rest their heads for the night. Hassi Messaoud became that place and, as a result, numerous traders passed through on a regular basis. What was first a watering hole and then a settlement soon became a small town.

However life in the town changed quite dramatically in 1956 when oil was discovered here. By 1979, the oil refining industry had expanded dramatically and a refinery was built in the town. Not much later, half of the country’s total oil production came from this one oil reservoir. The refinery at Hassi Messaoud now pipes oil through a large pipeline network to Skikda, Algiers, Bejaia and Arzew.