TODAY’S – Smuggled ISIL oil costs Turkey $2.6 bln in losses

Smuggled ISIL oil costs Turkey $2.6 bln in lossesThe Turkish governmentand#39s failure to stop militants smuggling oil across its border with Iraq and Syria is dealing a blow to the countryand#39s economy, with oil market experts estimating the total damage at $2.

6 billion this yearThe Millet daily reported on Sunday that Turkey failed to collect $862 million in taxes due to oil smuggled by the militant Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group undermining legitimate gasoline markets. The daily quotes oil market representatives as saying that Turkish gasoline dealers lost $1.

72 billion in trade to ISIL-controlled oil smuggling. Oil smuggling into Turkey is not new, but the Syrian civil war and the rise of ISIL sparked an increase in smuggling along Turkeyand#39s southern border, experts say.

It is estimated that oil smuggling on Turkeyand#39s Syrian and Iraqi border has increased by 314 percent since the war began.The cost of gasoline in Turkey is one of the worldand#39s highest due to heavy taxation, making oil smuggling attractive in Turkish markets.

The size of the Turkish fuel market is estimated at $50 billion and the state makes $25 billion in tax revenues from gasoline per year The Turkish government currently levies a 61 percent tax on gasoline, 55 percent on diesel and 50 percent on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).According to local Petroleum Products Employersand#39 Union (PuIS)hairman Muhsin Alkan, several gas stations in Turkeyand#39s border provinces are having financial difficulties since most customers prefer smuggled ISIL oil which is as much as 50 percent cheaper than the fuel sold at the pump.

ISIL is believed to smuggle several tons of oil into Turkey per day. Vehicles carry smuggled ISIL oil close to the border from where oil is sent to traders inside the country via illegal pipelines, observers say.

In November, Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Nurettin Canikli confirmed the illegal trade, telling a TV program, andldquoSmall quantities [of oil] could have been smuggled into the country on the backs of donkeys, which might not have been noticed.andrdquo Millet quoted Alkan as saying on Sunday that some gas stations in Turkeyand#39s southeast agreed to purchase oil from smugglers at half the market price.

andldquoA truck of diesel costs TL 95,000 on the legal market, while smugglers can provide you with the same amount of oil for TL 50,000,andrdquo Alkan explained. He added that smugglers have even established their own fleet of oil trucks, threatening the legal gas business in the provinces of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, IanlIurfa and Mardin.

Govand#39t does little to stop ISILEarlier this year, ISIL militants seized oilfields and refineries in northern Iraq and have been exporting oil through smuggling networks to the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Iran. The militant group is thought to be producing between 25,000 and 40,000 barrels per day (bpd).

This economic lifeline is generating nearly $2 million in revenues per day for ISIL, international observers have estimated.The extent of ISILand#39s oil smuggling was highlighted by Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari earlier this month, who said, andldquoISIL controls a number of oilfields in Syria and Iraq and they smuggle this oil overland through trucks, through middlemen to Turkey or towards other countries.

andrdquo The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has said it has captured individuals and charged them with smuggling oil for ISIL.The Turkish government was criticized for tacitly allowing extremists in Syria and Iraq a revenue stream out of sympathy for any opponent of the Syrian government.

Ankara had openly supported opposition in Syria against Bashar al-Assad until ISIL became a threat for Turkey, too.The government has also been criticized for facilitating ISIL oil smuggling following the purge of thousands of counterterrorism police units along Turkeyand#39s Iraq and Syria borders earlier this year.

SOURCE: The East African