ISIL's $800 Million Oil Business

Oct. 20, 2014

The terrorist group Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) is generating an income of $800 million annually from oil sales, according to IHS, a leading provider of energy information and analytics.

ISIL is able to generate more than $2 million a day despite the fact that the production facilities it controls are producing significantly less than before the war and the group is selling the oil at a steep discount on the black market. Much of the oil is processed in mobile refineries that can be loaded by truck.

"Oil directly finances ISIL's myriad activities and encourages the activities of middlemen who sell, transport and export the oil and thus have a vested interest in ISIL," states a recent IHS Energy analysis.

ISIL controls up to 350,000 barrels per day of pre-war oil production capacity in Iraq and Syria but is only able to produce 50,000 to 60,000 barrels a day, says IHS. That is because of warfare, shut-ins and ISIL's limited technical capabilities.

ISIL sells its oil by transporting it in trucks through smuggling routes on the Turkish border, IHS reports. The oil is sold for an estimated $40 a barrel, compared to the current $85 per barrel for Dated Brent, the international oil benchmark.

ISIL's ability to gain or lose territory will play a large role in how much revenue it produces in the future, says IHS. With ongoing air strikes by the U.S. and its allies, IHS says it is unclear if the group will have enough refining capacity to meet its own needs.

About the Author

Steve Minter Blog | Executive Editor

Focus: Global Economy & International Trade

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An award-winning editor, Executive Editor Steve Minter covers global economic and international trade issues, tackling subject matter ranging from manufacturing trends, public policy and regulations in developed and emerging markets to global regulation and currency exchange rates. As well, he supervises content production of all IW editorial products including the magazine,, research and informationproducts, and executive conferences. 

Before joining the IW staff, Steve was publisher and editorial director of Penton Media’s EHS Today, where he was instrumental in the development of the Champions of Safety and America’s Safest Companies recognition programs.

Steve received his B.A. in English from Oberlin College. He is married and has two children.

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