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Irina Slav

Irina Slav

Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

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ISIS Hits Largest Oil Field in Kirkuk, Kills Five

ISIS Iraq Bas Hassan

Islamic State fighters have killed five people in an attack on the largest oil field in Kirkuk, Bas Hassan, and have attempted to take down a gas compression station nearby as well, where they planted bombs after killing four guards. The fifth victim was an engineer working at Bas Hassan, media report, citing Iraqi and Kurdish sources. However, ISIS itself has so far not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sources from the Kurdish military forces, the Peshmerga, said that the attack on the gas station was neutralized and that three of the four ISIS terrorists involved in the double hit were killed, one of them managing to blow himself up, causing explosions in oil storage tanks at Bas Hassan. The fourth one escaped. There have been suggestions that the attackers belonged to a sleeper cell based in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

Bas Hassan is the largest oilfield in Kirkuk and contributes around a third of the oil exports of the Kurdistan Regional Government, which has been locked in an unofficial dispute over the oil-rich province with the central government in Baghdad since the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Multi-ethnic as it is, Kirkuk has been hard to win for either Baghdad or Erbil, the center of the Kurdistan government. It seems, however, that a large portion of the population would back a referendum on where it belongs, which could see it become even more closely affiliated with Kurdistan than with Iraq, as Oilprice wrote back in April. Related: Why Goldman Sachs Remains Bullish On Russian Oil

According to some local analysts, Kirkuk is already practically under Kurdish control but there is a possibility for the province to become an autonomous entity. This, says Arif Qurbany, will be pretty much a disaster for Kurdish interests – and people – in Kirkuk. Autonomy will give Baghdad more power to influence the course of events in the oil-rich region, undermining the Kurds’ influence, he argues.

Control over Kirkuk is extremely important for Kurdistan, as it is overwhelmingly dependent on oil for its livelihood, just like Iraq. Currently, the Kurdistan Regional Government has control over some 45 billion barrels of oil (BP estimates), which is about a third of Iraq’s total. Now that KRG has won the right to market its own oil independently of Baghdad, it will likely do everything in its power to get access to more oil and that oil is in Kirkuk.

ISIS attacks on Kurdish territory have been rarer than elsewhere in Iraq. Yet, the terrorist group is now being driven out of some important strongholds by the Iraqi army (and by the Syrian forces in Syria), cutting its access to oil, on which it is no less dependent than both Baghdad and Erbil. Just earlier this month, ISIS set five oilfields on fire near Mosul, one of the first major cities that fell to the terrorists back in 2014.

Oil is the ultimate bargaining chip in the war-torn Middle East. This latest attack is simply another in a long string of events constantly highlighting this fact.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • richard jung on August 01 2016 said:
    When are the Democrats and the environmentalist going to make it clear to ISIS that this is not allowed. They are polluting the atmosphere causing all sorts of man made climate change and they must stop immediately.
  • Philip Branton on August 01 2016 said:

    " Oil is the ultimate bargaining chip in the war-torn Middle East. This latest attack is simply another in a long string of events constantly highlighting this fact....."

    Its more than a bargaining chip.........its enslavement. That is why every oil worker should be livid that oil has such a worldwide monopolistic economic control. Its their oil worker pensions that suffer...not a CEO or board member. The tanking of oil prices has been to stifle the financing that ISIS received from smuggled oil to fund their operations. (...not to mention the political timing to control election outcomes......its the oil stupid.)
  • Ken on August 02 2016 said:
    The economics of oil are certainly important. However, the raping of children as young as 7 years of age, and other widespread torture methods along with the enslavement of many thousands is far worse than damaging some oil field equipment. There are also reports of butchering and cannibalizing captives which have not seemed to break into the major media outlets, yet.
  • raymond on August 02 2016 said:
    You can't blame ISIS. They were provoked by an obscure Christian film maker who did a 13 minute trailer that no one ever saw, much less translated into Arabic or any Muslim language. Plus, as John Kerry so scientifically demonstrated, all terrorism is global warming, and global warming is to be blamed for whatever ISIS is so unfairly accused of doing. It's all America's fault for driving cars. Vote for Hillary. It's just racist & xenophobic to suggest Muslims did anything wrong. Because their religion is so peaceful and beautiful. Let's help Hillary bring more Muslim "refugees" to America, help bring a Syrian refugee to your city and neighborhood. Vote Hillary. Or just send your money directly to ISIS. Hillary's foundation or "charity" will funnel the money to ISIS too. Take your pick.
  • Bond,James on August 12 2016 said:
    The Kurds must stop listening to US_Zionist conspirators who aim from the beginning was
    the division of Iraq and the seizure of the oil fields. The Arab world will not accept a Kurdish
    state that will be aligned with EU, NATO, and the Zionists.
  • ponomo on August 13 2016 said:
    I worked in the middle east(in the Kingdom) 1997-200l No isis then but it would get to 100-120 above. Hillary wouldn't make a pimple on O's.......and vice versa. Both couldn't catch a sample at the shale shaker.
  • Michel Cyr on August 28 2016 said:
    You should ask Trump that question.He says He knows more than the Generals about Isis.
  • Tan Solot on August 30 2016 said:
    That fact this isis crap still exists is a testament to the hairless state of our current administration.
  • Robert Armsistein on September 16 2016 said:
    Someone or something rich is/are funding ISIS. They receive lots of attention, which is what they want. Their endless stream of cash, allows them to kill humans around the Globe. I think that a certain rich religious denomination is what is funding those Humans. Religion and the Drug Trade are two of the Top Cash producers in the World. 99% of their funds are untraceable. And, both are about/in to, make believe illusions. Find which religion(s) is funding ISIS and you will get rid of them and other terrorist groups.

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