SULAIMANIYA/KIRKUK - Iraqi Oil Police fought a two-hour gun battle with smugglers tapping a remote well in the Jambur oil field this week, the latest incident in an uphill battle the Iraqi state is waging against oil thieves operating throughout northern Iraq.
The various smuggling operations involve several thousand barrels of oil per day — a small fraction of Iraq’s overall production, with relatively little impact on state revenues. But they happen with the complicity of a variety of federal and Kurdish security forces, creating an environment of corruption, impunity, and lawlessness that could undermine the long-term development of Kirkuk and its oil fields.
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