Fuel smuggling causes shortages and spiking prices

Smugglers are exploiting a growing margin between government-subsidized fuel and market prices in an illicit trade that is squeezing Iraq's fuel supply and costing the government billions.
North Oil Police make arrests in a March 11, 2022, raid of a smuggling operation outside of Kirkuk. (Source: North Oil Police media office)

A rise in oil product smuggling is contributing to fuel shortages in Iraq, as illicit traders take advantage of the massive spread between sky high global energy prices and heavily subsidized Iraqi fuel products.

Smuggled fuel ends up in a variety of locations, including the Kurdistan region (which has a more market-based gasoline sector), black market stations in federal Iraq, and neighboring states.

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