Between August and October, Iraq lost $7 billion dollars in potential revenues due to sabotage against the country's oil infrastructure, according to Assem Jihad, spokesman of the Oil Ministry.
An estimated 20 oil wells and pipelines were bombed or set abalze this month in northern Iraq alone, according to an official of the Northern Company. Iraq has oilfields in the north around Kirkuk and in the south near Basra.
Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin, chief of the Iraqi National Guardsmen in Kirkuk, said that Erinys hires tribes to guard oil installations. For guarding pipelines, he said the going rate is $1,100 per mile secured.
"The tribes are fighting over who wins the largest number of contracts," Amin said, adding that the losers "blow up the pipelines and oil wells in retaliation."
Tribesmen who own land through which the pipelines pass sometimes break them to steal oil for sale.
Short of bringing in an extra 100,000 or so armed guards, there does not seem to be an obvious solution to this problem. And if the insurgents have unlimited weapons (from the ammo dumps we chose not guard) and easy access to oil, which is easy currency, they should be able to soldier on for years.