ISIS is making $3 million per day from oil sales, a Middle East expert told Turkish state media, meaning that even though the terrorist organization is getting less than half of what those fields are worth, it’s far more self-sufficient than other extremist groups that mostly rely on donations to keep going.
“According to our sources in the region, although we do not know the amount of the oil sold and to which countries, we know that IS earns $3 million each day from oil sales,” Theodore Karasik, the director of research and consultancy at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
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IEA controls $8 million/day worth of oil at spot prices
By International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates, ISIS controls seven oil fields capable of producing 80,000 barrels of oil per day, worth more than $8 million at typical spot prices. Since Karasik doesn’t know how much oil ISIS is able to sell, the $3 million figure means that the group is selling at a hefty discount, isn’t able to operate the oil fields at full capacity, or some combination of the two. Karasik said that the oil is being sold illegally to neighboring countries, but the AA article doesn’t mention any of those countries by name.
International companies have left the north due to ISIS, but not the country
If there’s any good news it’s that Karasik doesn’t think ISIS will be able to disrupt international oil markets because they don’t have a way to interfere with oil production in the south, where the country’s largest oil fields are located. In the grand scheme of things, 80,000 barrels per day just isn’t enough to seriously impact international trade, and the impact that those funds have on the local conflict is the more significant issue.
Karasik also says that while international companies that had been operating in northern Iraq and Baghdad have withdrawn employees from those regions they are still active in the south, and he expects them to return to Baghdad as long as Iraqi prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi can build a coalition government. And since they haven’t fully left the country, they could probably restart operations in the north fairly quickly as well if the Iraqi government, along with the Kurdish peshmerga and possibly assistance from the US, can push ISIS out of the country.