IS Crude Revenue Falling

IS Crude Revenue FallingIS Crude Revenue Falling

The Islamic State militant group, pushed off from more than half of the Iraqi territory it seized in 2014, has suffered a near collapse in revenue from oil smuggling, officials say, forcing it to cut fighters' pay, levy new taxes and raise fines for breaking its code.

The group has lost control of a series of oilfields, and is having to sell what production that remains at steep discounts to persuade truck drivers to collect it and run the gauntlet of US-led air strikes, Reuters reported.

Advances by Iraqi government and Kurdish forces plus Shiite Muslim militias have left the militants with partial access to just two of the five Iraqi oilfields they once controlled. This has cut smuggling by at least 90%, according to security and municipal officials.

IS used to sell at least 50 tanker truckloads a day from Qayara and Najma oilfields, south of the group's Mosul stronghold.

"Now with Iraqi forces getting closer and stepping up airstrikes, Daesh can hardly sell five small tankers," he said, using an Arabic acronym for the hardline terror outfit (aka ISIS and ISIL) and has spread death and destruction in the region for more than three years.

Luay Al-Khatteeb, executive director of the Iraq Energy Institute who has done extensive research into IS's oil smuggling, said revenues fluctuated even during their peak in the second half of 2014 when "on its best days" the group made nearly $700,000 a day from Iraqi fields.

In May, the US estimated its revenue had been roughly halved to $250 million a year from the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria. While the militants have suffered further losses since then in Iraq, they still control several oilfields in eastern Syria.

Iraqi security officials and an oil ministry adviser say the group's oil revenues fell by $1 million a day in April 2015 alone when it lost the Ajil and Himreen oilfields near the city of Tikrit, which lies about 150 km north of Baghdad.

Another source said recent setbacks have forced the militants to cut salaries by a third. They have also imposed more taxes on farmers, truckers and traders and increased fines for "violations" such as smoking and shaving beards.