Militants are selling crude oil and gasoline from four seized oil fields to finance their new Islamic state. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is believed to be generating a multi-million dollar profit from the illegal trade, Iraqi officials told Reuters. The small oil fields were seized during ISIS' two-day sweep through northern Iraq in mid-June and are in two locations: two near the northern city of Mosul and two further south near Tikrit.
Unlike larger Iraqi oil fields which remain under Kurdish and central government control, the estimated 80 wells held by ISIS are sealed and not pumping. However, they still give ISIS leverage over other armed Sunni factions who could potentially challenge their dominance. Iraqi officials say that in recent weeks the group has transported oil to be processed by mobile refineries in Syria into low quality gas oil and gasoline, which is then brought back for sale in Mosul. Gas stations in Mosul - a city of 2 million people - are now selling fuel supplied by traders working with ISIS. Larger shipments of crude are also said to be sold via smugglers to Turkish traders at vastly discounted prices of around $25 per barrel.
First published July 23 2014, 6:31 AM