ISIS is capable of producing 30,000-40,000 barrels of oil per day to cover organization’s payroll of around $360 million a year. ISIS-produced fuel is being sold externally anywhere but a small area of Turkey, where it’s sold at black market prices.
In July 2015 the US Treasury Department estimated that ISIS was making as much as $500 million per year from oil sales, easily meeting the organisation’s payroll of around $360 million a year.
In September 2014 the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, was reported as telling the EU’s Foreign Affairs Committee that several unnamed EU member states had bought ISIS oil that had passed through Turkey. Turkey strenuously denied the allegation.
So how likely it is that ISIS-produced oil is on sale in international markets and should fuel buyers worry that they might inadvertently be purchasing it?
David Butter, an analyst of politics, economics and business in the MENA region at Chatham House told SM that at its high point ISIS controlled an area that produced about 120,000 barrels per day.
But he continued: “The peak of IS operations would have been July to September 2014, when oil prices were high and there were no coalition air raids.
“Things then got harder, and have become much more difficult since October 2015 when the coalition started attacking wellhead facilities and tanker fleets.”
At the same time advances by Syrian Army have curtailed ISIS oil operations.
ISIS is generally considered to have been capable of producing 30,000-40,000 barrels per day over past year, though this could well be an overestimate, Butler added.
Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst for energy research consultancy Energy Aspects, stressed that ISIS-controlled oil was not even equivalent to one per cent of Iraq’s total production.
A large percentage of this was used to fuel the organization’s own fleet of military vehicles.
But he added: “There is anecdotal evidence that some of this oil gets into southern Turkey using smuggling routes that have been in place for several decades.
“This isn’t a case of ISIS delivering to the refinery gates,” he said. “It’s being picked up by civilians in trucks.”
In any case he thinks it is unlikely that ISIS-produced fuel is being sold externally anywhere but a small area of Turkey, where it’s sold at black market prices through a relatively closed, highly informal system.
“There isn’t much reason to try to ship into international markets. The volumes aren’t there. The logistics are too complex and I don’t think there are parties who actually want to do it,” Mallinson said; Supplymanagement.com reported.