The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Daesh is said to earn as much as $50 million per month from the sales of crude oil obtained from oilfields under its control in Iraq and Syria, Iraqi intelligence and US officials have revealed.
Last Friday, Associated Press (AP) reported that the militant group’s oil boom demonstrates a well-run terrorist industry that US diplomacy and airstrikes have so far failed to shut down.
The oil sales represent the extremists’ largest single source of continual income and are a key reason the group has been able to maintain control over their self-declared “caliphate” that encompasses areas of both Iraq and Syria.
Daesh sells the crude oil to smugglers for discounted prices, occasionally as low as $10 a barrel in some cases (compared to the international market price of just under $50 a barrel), AP reported four Iraqi intelligence officials as saying. The smugglers in turn sell to middlemen in Turkey, they said.
Ibrahim Bahr Al-Oloum, a member of Iraq’s parliamentary energy committee and a former oil minister, told the AP that Daesh is believed to be extracting about 30,000 barrels per day from Syria, smuggled to middlemen in neighbouring Turkey. In Iraq, they produce around 10,000-20,000 barrels per day, mostly from two oilfields outside Mosul.
Turkey’s prime minister’s office said in a statement that it has taken steps to tighten border security and “has effectively stopped oil smuggling” across the border.
Turkey said that as of the end of September it had prevented 3,319 acts of smuggling from Syria and that since 2011 it has seized more than 5.5 million litres of oil in anti-smuggling operations.
The United States has expanded its efforts to target the group’s sources of funding. Daesh also collects taxes in the areas it controls as well earning revenues as from the sale of looted antiques and artefacts from ancient Iraqi and Syrian cities.