In 1874 French army military officer and geographer Élie Roudaire published a plan for the setting up of an inland sea in Algeria and Tunisia. The project entailed excavating a channel to allow ocean water flood the broad North African lowlands, i.e. the chotts. Following the publication a number of expeditions were carried out, manly from the French. The Italian team “Antinori" also performed a short expedition.
After Roudaire's death the project was taken over by the developer of the Suez Canal Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was firmly determined to create a sea in the Sahara Desert. He believed the enterprise to be fully feasible and bound to have momentous impact.
The most recent study on the project is dated 1905: it was considered to be unprofitable. At that time, however, mass tourism did not exist, nor did fish-farming; Europe had less than 200 million inhabitants and was not a salt-importing region. Since then the chotts have remained untapped opportunities: their transformation into inland seas would bring enormous benefits, both during construction and upon completion. The whole area would be navigable and would give right to the "carbon credits" provided for by the Kyoto Protocol.