Smuggling bust unravels into scandal of murder and political intrigue

An oil smuggling ring was stealing thousands of barrels per day from a pipeline in Basra. The true contours of the conspiracy remain a mystery.
A screenshot from a video showing security forces investigating the site of an oil smuggling operation on the Halfaya-Fao pipeline, near the Zubair oil field, in Basra in October 2022.

BASRA - A large oil smuggling operation in southern Iraq has unraveled into a scandal involving murder and political intrigue, prompting a leadership shakeup in the country's Oil Police amidst allegations that security forces were conspiring in the theft.

The smuggling ring appears to have been stealing thousands of barrels per day from a crude pipeline in Basra and trucking at least some of the oil to a grey-market crude and fuel trading depot in the Kurdistan region, according to an Iraq Oil Report investigation based on interviews with more than a dozen security officials and traders.

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