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Oil fire exposes alleged Hashd al-Shaabi smuggling route in southern Kirkuk

By Rudaw 13/6/2017
Authorities in Kirkuk discovered this truck was being used to hide smuggle oil.

KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region — A massive oil fire at a storage facility said to be used by Hashd al-Shaabi to smuggle oil out of the south of Kirkuk province was extinguished after six hours by workers from 15 civil defense teams.

“They illegally transferred oil from this place on a daily basis,” Lukman Shukr, a director of the civil defense office in Kirkuk, told Rudaw. “They made a pipeline to Jambur oil field’s pipeline, in order to avoid being noticed by security forces that they were transferring oil.”


As the fire became nearly uncontrollable in the early hours of Tuesday, the smuggling method was revealed.

Rudaw was told the oil was secretly transferred north through an underground pipeline from Jambur oil field to a storage facility in nearby Taza then transferred by tanker truck.

“They used [the bottom] half of their truck’s cargo holds to transfer oil, and used the top to transfer animal food, and chicken coops, because this place previously was chicken farm, later Hashd al-Shaabi came here and started this business,” Shukr added.


“That place is rented by a Hashd al-Shaabi leader, they illegally transferred oil from that place on a daily basis,” said Shukur.

Due to the presence of Hashd forces in the Taza sub district and its surroundings, police forces responsible for oil enforcement said were unable to control the pipelines in the district, this allowed some people to reach and obtain the oil from Jambur.

Taz is located about 15 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk city. Jumba is about halfway to Tuz Khurmatu, however, many entities worked together to extinguish the blaze.


“To extinguish the fire we shut down the main pipelines in the place where the oil was stolen, and 15 firefighter teams were working until they controlled the fire,” said Qays Razza, Kirkuk’s civil defense communication director. “Even North Gas Company and North Oil’s firefighters helped, since the fire was very huge its control was difficult.”

The areas south of Kirkuk are diverse and oil rich, with Kurdish Peshmerga and primarily Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi including Kurds in close proximity to each other

“Some 1,200 Kurds have joined the Hashd al-Shaabi forces in the area,” Rudaw was told in February by a local Peshmerga commander. “They do not believe they will be asked to fight the Peshmerga, saying they, in the Hashd, are not the enemy of Kurds

Analysts estimated in 2014 that ISIS was earning as much as $3 million a day in oil sales from fields in Iraq and Syria, although a German intelligence agency had reported that this figure was probably closer to $274,000 a day.

Since ISIS toppled Mosul and gained control of a third of Iraq in June 2014, various reports emerged of Kurdish oil traders smuggling oil from ISIS areas in Iraq and Syria into Turkey, Iran, or the Kurdistan Region itself for sale.

Kurdish police in Kirkuk have denied the reports that the city has been a market for ISIS oil and a gateway to world markets.
“Iraq is no more a home to oil for ISIS. Not only is the group unable to sell oil, but also they want to buy it in order to maintain its activities,” said Bewar Khinsi, an economic adviser to the Kurdistan Region’s intelligence agency, in September 2016.


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