ISIS: A Growing Oil Producer in Iraq and Syria

New 'Caliphate' Has a Lot of Oil Wealth Already

ISIS continues to push the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria, and various Syrian rebel faction, but the territory they’ve amassed in their “Caliphate” is already substantial, both in its size and its oil production.

The push into northern Iraq has seen them take 7 oil fields, all relatively small, but combined they amount to 80,000 barrels per day of capacity. At current prices, that’s about $8.4 million a day.

And it’s only the tip of the iceberg. ISIS has already amassed a large portion of Syria’s overall oil reserves. How much of the production remains usable in the midst of the civil war is unclear, but is believed to be hundreds of thousands of additional barrels per day.

All told, that would make the Islamic State one of the top 30 oil producers on the planet, and while they can’t exactly export it anywhere, their control over the key Baiji Refinery in Iraq will allow them to use it to produce fuel for their many captured vehicles.

Even this may not be the final story on ISIS, however, with their ongoing push into Kurdish territory bringing them close to some major oil fields on the outskirts of Kirkuk, which could easily double their overall production capacity, while sending Iraq’s spiraling downward.

Already, Iraq’s oil production is down 120,000 bpd from June to July reflecting both the loss of the 80,000 bpd ISIS seized outright and a drop of 40,000 from Iraqi Kurdistan attributable to evacuation of foreign staff at those sites.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.