Life In Erbil As Insecurity Continues In Iraq

In its goal of pursuing statehood, the Islamic State became an oil state at the worst time. When international oil prices were trading closer to $100/bbl, it’s estimated that IS could have been making $6 million a day from black market oil sales. The oil price decline is altering the way IS conducts its business and funds its fighting efforts. “The IS’s most likely way forward is to try some sort of combination – reduced services, increased import duties, overseas donations, heightened criminal activities, a strategic shift to capturing more oil fields and a return to overt terrorist tactics.” [CTC Perspectives]

The oil price collapse is hitting oil revenue-dependent nations like Saudi Arabia, but so far the impact has not been catastrophic. “Saudi Arabia’s economic growth fell to its lowest level in more than a year, in the fourth quarter of 2014, a sign that the plunge in oil prices may be causing growth to slow, data from the Saudi Statistics Office showed on Wednesday. Gross domestic product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, expanded 2 percent from a year earlier last quarter, down from 2.4 percent in the third quarter and 4.9 percent in the final quarter of 2013. For all of 2014, GDP grew 3.6 percent.” [Arab News]

Roughly 5,400 smart meters are being removed and replaced in Ontario due to the risk of fire. The province’s smart meter program has come under criticism for cost increases that total about $1 billion and poor performance. “Even though the probability of a serious event in Ontario is low, nonetheless we have taken the proactive and prudent step and directed LDCs (local distribution companies) to remove these meters from service in order to eliminate any risk,” said Collie. [Toronto Star]