According to the Financial Times, ISIS is making 1.5 million dollars a day from the oil fields that it controls in Syria and Iraq. See “Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists”, October 2015. At the following map from the Financial Times, you can see with purple the areas controlled by ISIS, and with black blots the oilfields controlled by ISIS. The blue areas on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea are the areas controlled by Bashar al Assad i.e. the Iranian and Russian ally. With green, on the north, you can see the areas controlled by the Kurds of Syria. I have marked with yellow the regions controlled by the Kurds of Syria.
Map 1 ISIS Controlled Regions and Oil Fields Controlled by ISIS (Source FT)
I must add something to that. It is a sure thing that ISIS can sell oil in Syria and Iraq, but you can see on the map that the purple regions connect ISIS’s oilfields to Turkey. Turkey is exporting oil from the port of Ceyhan in the Mediterranean Sea (see the red circle I have added on the map). Oil from Azerbaijan and North Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan) is already flowing to Ceyhan. Who says that ISIS oil isn’t flowing at Ceyhan too? Maybe it does. The region between the areas controlled by the Kurds i.e. the area I have marked with red color is where Erdogan wanted to send the Turkish army to establish a buffer zone. That’s what Turkey was asking in exchange for her support in the fight against ISIS. This region is important for Turkey, because it allows, or it will allow in the future, ISIS oil to flow to Turkey and the port of Ceyhan. Turkey can earn commissions from exporting this oil, and Turkey can also reduce her energy dependence on Iran and Russia.
All the above is a problem for Russia and Iran, because Russia and Iran are already selling oil to Turkey, and I would expect they sell at prices higher than the ISIS oil. Moreover, if this oil ends up in Europe through Ceyhan, it will compete with the Russian oil because Russia mainly sells to Europe. That’s not good for Saudi Arabia either because Saudi Arabia sells to Europe too, but it is primarily the Russian interests that are hurt. Saudi Arabia mainly sells to Asia and not Europe.
The region between the areas controlled by the Kurds i.e. the green area is vital for Turkey for one more reason. It is through this corridor that Turkey supports her Islamist allies in Syria and Iraq.
For the Financial Times map see
For the Financial Times article see
“Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists”, October 2015