Oil Police interdict Kirkuk-area smuggling operation

Gunfight at Jambur oil well underscores – but doesn't end – an epidemic of crude smuggling throughout northern Iraq.
Oil Police interdict Kirkuk-area smuggling operation
Tankers retroffited by a smugglers' operation to hide as much as half of their fuel load are discovered by the Iraqi Oil Police on Jan. 27, 2011. (BEN LANDO/Iraq Oil Report)

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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