Air Force Aircraft & Personnel Depart For The Middle East

The US military partnered with Saudi Arabia and the UAE on air strikes that bombed 12 “teapot” refineries in eastern Syria reportedly used as part of ISIS’ underground oil operations. These small modular refineries – producing 300 to 500 barrels per day of refined products – are major sources of funding for the extremists, generating “as much as $2 million per day,” according to a US Central Command release.

“We are still assessing the outcome of the attack on the refineries, but have initial indications that the strikes were successful.” – US Central Command

It’s been reported that ISIS is selling its illegally obtained oil – and presumably oil products – for as little as $25/bbl, which means yesterday’s airstrikes took out approximately 8% of ISIS’ $2 million daily revenue stream (using the higher 500 b/d estimate). If we assume the refined products sold for $50/bbl, the airstrikes then cut 15% of the group’s daily oil business revenue. It also means between 6 to 12 additional small-scale refineries operated by ISIS likely remain in the region.

If the US military and its allies want to continue limiting ISIS’ “ability to lead, control, project power and conduct operations,” by targeting their oil business, we should expect additional airstrikes on those remaining facilities.