Money Talks- ISIS Grip on the Oil Market

 In Foreign

The old adage of “follow the money” not only applies to politics, but to the Islamic State (ISIS). How have they managed to withstand the airstrikes and the fighting, gaining ground and taking in more fighters? Money. And according to Fox News,  it’s coming from their $50 Million per month grip on the oil market.


Screenshot from video showing Islamic State attacking an oil refinery- via Vice News, video 6 months ago

The money trail

In a BBC documentary back in April, it was revealed that ISIS had so much control over Syrian oil fields that they were selling the oil back to Assad’s government (weren’t they supposedly enemies?) Sometimes  ISIS trades oil for other things. But it has built up a formidable amount of money – possibly in the $Billion range.

The International Business Times wrote back in April,

The documentary claims ISIS has about $2 billion in its coffers, mainly through oil from the fields it has seized in Syria. The Islamic militant group also controls territory in neighboring Iraq. ISIS also gets funding by skimming money intended to go to government officials in Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq that the group seized last summer.


Big Money – Greed

Since they can pay workers, and fighters, they gather “loyalty” by payments. Which is never a good thing, but when money is plentiful, so are the vultures that work for it. Greed is one of the most powerful motivators on the planet.

Fox News reported,

The Islamic State group is believed to be extracting about 30,000 barrels per day from Syria, smuggled to middlemen in neighboring Turkey. In Iraq, they produce around 10,000-20,000 barrels per day, mostly from two oilfields outside Mosul, Ibrahim Bahr al-Oloum, a member of Iraq’s parliamentary energy committee and a former oil minister, told the AP. But he said much of the Iraqi production is not sold and instead sent to Syria to makeshift refineries the group has set up to produce fuel products.

In total, the group is believed to make $40-$50 million a month from sales, the Iraqi officials said. A report by the Islamic State’s Diwan al-Rakaaez — its version of a Finance Ministry — seen by the AP in Baghdad shows that revenues from oil sales from Syria alone last April totaled $46.7 million. The IS “finance ministry” report put at 253 the number of oil wells under IS control in Syria, saying 161 of them were operational. Running the wells were 275 engineers and 1,107 workers, it said.

Though the Islamic State’s small network of refineries are said to be “rudimentary,” they still manage to rake in large sums of money.  In spite of airstrikes, in spite of operations by ground troops, in spite of “fleeing” jihadists, they continue to pull in millions. Money talks.


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