ISIS Is Gone, But Iraq’s Main Refinery Remains in Ruins

Locals Say Promises, But No Effort to Reconstruct Area

A major focus in the early stages of the ISIS war was the massive oil refinery at Baiji, the largest refinery in all of Iraq. Months of fighting and airstrikes damaged or destroyed pretty much all of it by mid-2016.

ISIS is long gone from the town and the refinery compound, but the site still sits not only idle, but in ruins, with locals saying that repeated official promises have amounted to nothing, and there’s been no visible reconstruction attempted at the site.

Khaled Hassan Mahdi, a regional MP from Baiji, says that the funds meant to go into rebuilding have all been diverted to fighting ISIS elsewhere in the country. He was pessimistic that any funding would ever go to the refinery, saying even if the money is freed up it will probably focus on restoring basic infrastructure first.

Oil refineries and chemical plants may be a distant memory for Baiji, and the North Oil Company, the state-owned apparatus that used to run it, says it will never have its previous capacity again. Where that leaves the locals, however, remains to be seen, as the complex was the economic lifeblood of the city.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of