Iran militias revive Islamic State oil trade into Syria from Iraq: sources
The groups, allegedly linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), may have gained access to a handful of oil fields and refineries in Iraq and Syria, using the fuel and proceeds from sales tothe local population to fund their activities, the sources said.
“Every week there are tankers entering from Iraq loaded with oil — between 30-40,” said one source who lives along the main supply road in Syria and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “They come every week at night to empty their cargo, and in the day, are empty on the way back to Iraq.”
The amount of oil involved is as high as 10,000 b/d, though some sources involved in the transactions say it averages closer to 4,000 to 5,000 b/d.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Assem Jihad, a spokesman for Iraq’s Oil Ministry, said: “The government and the ministry are working to prevent oil smuggling from all of Iraq’s cities.”
However, Ali Farhan Hamid, the governor of Iraq’s far western Anbar province, where much of the alleged oil transit is occurring, denied any Iranian militia involvement in the province’s affairs.
“There is no presence for the Iranians in Anbar,” he told Platts through a translator last week, when he was in London to drum up investment in the rebuilding province, particularly in its oil and gas fields. “We have two American [military bases] in Anbar, so there cannot be any penetration by the Iranians. It is totally under control.”
But the US government is aware of the smuggling operation, according to an official from US President Donald Trump’s administration, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The US Central Command — which oversees the American military presence in the Middle East — and spokesmen for the US Defense, State and Treasury departments all declined to comment.
Sources on the ground told Platts that the Iranian-backed militias are filling a void left by the Islamic State, which in 2014 and 2015 controlled some 50,000 to 80,000 b/d of oil production in western Iraq and eastern Syria.
At its height, the group was earning up to $40 million to $50 million a month from its oil operations.
Read more at: S&P Global
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