US strikes ISIL oil fields in Quest to Defund it: But will it Replace oil with Fracking?

By Juan Cole

Sawt al-Iraq [Voice of Iraq] reports that during the past two days, Saudi, UAE and American fighter jets attacks small oil refineries originally built for Syria by Turkey, which had been run by ISIL in Deir Ezzor. the day before yesterday the allies struck 12 refineries that ISIL had been in control of, and from which it allegedly earned $2 mn a day.

At the same time, Western strategy is to seek more Middle Eastern allies. Pressure is being put on a reluctant Turkey to step up and play an active role in combating ISIL. US VP Joe Biden recently met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in this connection.

The Succor Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), al-Jabhat al-Nusrah, which is linked to al-Qaedah, withdrew from positions in West Ghouta in Damascus and in Deraa for fear of American air strikes on their territory.

Alaraby (UK) reports that the ISIL fields in Syria pump less thaan 100,000 barrels a day. Although theoretically this could bring the organization millions of dollars a day, Alaraby thinks it is considerably less. US officials said that increases in US production could offset the loss to the world market of ISIL petroleum.

Unfortunately US increases would be through fracking, which would be very bad for the environment. The more logical way of proceeding would be to enact a carbon tax and get people taking public transport or driving electric cars; if enough did that, the demand for petroleum would fall dramatically.

Related video:

The Washington Examiner: “U.S., Arab allies target ISIS-controlled oil refineries in latest Syria strike”

13 Responses

  1. Your mixing apples and oranges this time. US production increase is proposed as a short-term offset. Your alternatives are long-term solutions that address a different question than immediate consequences of bombing raids.

  2. I wonder whether the US doesn’t have a hidden agenda behind this : aka weakening the actual Syrian regime by suppressing some of its oil resource if/after the ISIL can be set aside ?

    Also since the US & France have decided to bomb in Syria there is not a session of the evening TV news that doesn’t babble longly about the risk of Europeans of Muslim descent engaged in the Syrian front and about the risks presented by their return to Europe. Frankly : this is nothing new. Why that alarming insistence right now ? It is just because they are trying to justify another “war on terror” : since 2000 the US has worked to destabilize all the Middle East. In 2003, at the time of the Iraq invasion, there were courageous EU leaders to resist the pressure (Chirac and De Villepin in France and Fischer in Germany), but the bullying of the US added to weaken EU leaders is pushing the EU to act against its best interest (same for Ukraina).

    Pepe Escobar has nicknamed the US : the “Empire of Chaos”.

    Emmanuel Todd was right in its prediction : the US superpower is slowly decreasing and the US is loosing its grip on the rest of the world, but it won’t go down without trying to impose its harmful military power.

    • Did you not read the article? 100,000 barrels a day is one-tenth of one % of world production. All Syrian production is trivial. This is about America covering its ass due to previous f***ups in places that were significant producers, and America helplessly getting screwed over by the most significant producers of all, the far-right Arab monarchies who bankroll extremism.

    • Peter Lee (China Hand) has an interesting theory: Saudi Arabia’s plan A was using jihadists to overthrow Assad. That didn’t work, so now they moving to plan B. Peaceful coexistence with Iran if they dump Assad and allow the Sunnis to take control in Syria. In addition, the good ‘ol USA backs the Saudi plan AND throws in a nuke deal with Iran if they let Assad get regime changed. If China Hand is right about Saudi Arabia’s plan B, Iran would have to think long and hard about turning it down.

      Lots of countries are piling on the war against ISIS as fast as they can. Today, Britain, Belgium and Denmark joined up. Why have so many countries jumped on the anti-ISIS bandwagon?

      Something BIG must be happening behind the scenes.

  3. The one-per-centers profess to be very upset about passing debt on to our grand-kids, but they don’t seem to have a plan to save any oil or gas for them.

  4. How is ISIS able to make money off of oil when we can block countries from selling oil? How much environmental damage is created by bombing oil facilities? Where’s the money for oil come from? Can’t the movement of money be stopped? How is the oil delivered? Ships. pipelines ?

    • ISIS are landlocked so the oil must be passing through either Iraq, Iran, Turkey. Israel or regime controlled Syria. Does the extensive US spy network- who appear to know the refineries location, output and selling price – have any idea who is buying this oil and helping to fund ISIS? Or is disclosing the allies of ISIS politically sensitive?

  5. Yes, a carbon tax, to be sure. But ALSO: get governments at all levels to commit to purchasing ALL their electric power from wind-solar-green by 2020. This would greatly boost green production, and also R&D becaus a market could be predicted.

    • Actually, nuclear power is the way to decarbonize our electricity generation system, as wind and solar are too unreliable and use up too much land. (Solar power could be useful for desalination though, as the fact that it produces a storable liquid product helps mitigate the intermittency problem.)

      There’s a good reason why we started using fossil fuels in a big way about 300 years ago (we we running out of trees to cut down for firewood, even though the world’s population was less than a tenth of today’s value).

      And oil is already too expensive to be used much for electricity generation (except on small islands). Why do you think so many Middle Eastern countries (most famously Iran of course) are looking with interest at nuclear power?

      Oil is used overwhelmingly for transport, not electricity generation. If you want to reduce America’s oil consumption you will need to replace car-dependent suburban sprawl with dense cities built around train networks. Throwing out overly-restrictive Euclidean zoning laws and replacing them with Japanese-style ones would be a good place to start.

  6. I’m confused. The article talks about the US bombing “refineries”, not oil production facilities, as everyone seems to be assuming. The refining infrastructure is a lot more concentrated than production, and thus forms a better choke point.

    And, need I add that cutting back on world oil refining capability will ultimately benefit the US. Koch Bros?

    Output of 100,000 bbl/da is certainly trivial when compared with world usage. However, its sale gives a nice chunk of change to ISIS, so its loss will be felt.

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