According to a report from UPI, global security consultancy Stratfor says Iran is systematically stealing Iraq’s oil, either by siphoning it off from pipelines to boost its own exports, or by extending its control over Iraq’s southern oilfields in Shiite-controlled Basra province:
“Iran’s deep political, economic and militant links in Iraq — particularly in the … south — will help Tehran manage the near-term politics of Iraq’s oil-driven ascent … And illicit trade links pervasive in Iraq’s southern border regions could even allow Iran to reap financial rewards from increased Iraqi production …
“Iran has many avenues of influence in Iraq, but it cannot provide Baghdad the technology or investment needed to extract Iraq’s energy wealth. Instead, Iran has embarked on a series of oil-smuggling schemes that allow it to siphon off Iraqi crude for its own exports and secure access to installations in Iraq’s southern oil fields.“
Stratfor estimates that 10 percent of Basra’s oil production, with a market value of more than $20 million a day, is being stolen via a network of Tehran-backed politicians, oil unions and militias.
Smuggled crude can be blended with Iranian crude to help disguise the origin.
Iraq is poised to overtake Iran in terms of oil output in the next couple of months to become OPEC’s second largest producer for the first time since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.
“Ideally, Iran would like to see southern Iraq evolve into a single, Shiite-dominated state within an Iraqi federation that would serve as an Iranian satellite,” Stratfor observed.