ISIS land gains yield millions in oil wealth - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

ISIS land gains yield millions in oil wealth

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The land grab by ISIS terrorists has fueled an oil trade that is enriching the militants. (Source: CNN) The land grab by ISIS terrorists has fueled an oil trade that is enriching the militants. (Source: CNN)

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (CNN) – ISIS popped on the global radar in June with its attack on Mosul.

And in the span of just two months has created its own black market for Iraqi crude.

"The scale is actually sizable in that they are able to export up to $3 million a day of oil,” said Theodore Karasik of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

Now this may be a small sum by global standards but if left unchecked ISIS could earn more than $1 billion a year from its oil operations in Iraq. It made that charge on June 10 into Mosul and now has four oil facilities in Mosul. And if you go down into Kirkuk which has big oil deposits but smaller operations, it has a total of 80,000 barrels of capacity per day.

What ISIS lacks is refining capacity, unable to wrestle control of the strategic Baiji refinery south of Mosul.

Energy strategists says ISIS is selling Iraqi oil at $25 to $60 a barrel, a deep discount on the global benchmark of about $100 a barrel.

But black market distribution, even for basic crude, in this part of the world is well-established.

"In northern Iraq people have been stealing oil, taping oil from pipelines for years in small volumes so there is already that infrastructure and those middle men who know how to trade this stuff,” said Robin Mills, a Middle East energy analyst.

Islamic militants plied their energy trade in eastern Syria, seizing oil and gas assets for the past few years. In early June under the banner of ISIS, they took control of Syria's biggest field in Deir Ezzour province.

Opposition Turkish parliamentarian Ali Ediboglu, based in the country's south bordering Syria, claims "$800 million worth of oil that ISIS obtained ... is being sold in Turkey.”

With U.S. military intervention, strategists say the Kurds have kept ISIS out of Kirkuk's super oil field, capping for now the group's new found wealth.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.


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