Tags / Refinery
On the roads around Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and taken by ISIS in June 2014, it is not uncommon to see roadside oil transactions.
In between ISIS billboards, civilians pull up to oil tankers parked on the side of the road to buy gas, petrol, and diesel to meet their daily needs.
Secret footage filmed in a town south of Mosul city shows a makeshift oil refinery, one of more than 2,000 similar installations, according to local sources. A Transterra Media contributor describes the refining process that takes place at the site, which was vacant at the time of filming.
Crude oil is brought to such refineries from wells in the provinces of Salahuddine and Mosul. Refined oil products are then sold in neighboring villages through distributors licensed by ISIS.
ISIS has divided Mosul province into three administrative districts: Wilayat (or province of) Mosul, which includes Mosul city and the Nineveh plain; Wilayat Dijla, south of Mosul city; and Wilayat al-Jazeera, west of Mosul city. The militant group considers Mosul the capital of its self-proclaimed state.
According to locals, ISIS controls the entire oil trade in the area. No one can sell oil without its permission.
The contributor's identity and the name of the town have been withheld at the contributor's request.
Traveling of road sign that reads: "The Islamic State. Wilayat [province] of Dijla." NOTE: The name of the town was blurred for security reasons.
Traveling of road sign that reads: "The Islamic State. Wilayat Dijla
Traveling of mobile oil tanker parked on roadside selling fuel to passersby
Various of makeshift oil refinery with voice over
Voice Over (Arabic)
00:38 – 02:17
“This is an oil refinery in Mosul. Crude oil is poured into these barrels. The barrels are then emptied into this tank, under which fire is started. When temperature rises, crude oil evaporates.
Steam comes out of these tubes, which pass through water in order for steam to condense and become liquid.
Liquid comes out here. First, gasoline is collected. Afterwards, white oil [kerosene] comes out of the pipes, followed by gas oil [fuel oil].
Lighter substances come out first, followed by denser ones. These substances are then sold on the market.”
February 26, 2014
Msheirfeh, Qamishli, Syria
Desperate conditions in northeastern Syria have caused some residents to turn to the dangerous practice of homemade, roadside oil-refining in the hope of earning enough to survive. The village of Msheirfeh is located on a volatile frontline between ISIL and and an alliance of Kurdish and Christian militias. Everyday, self-made oilmen risk their lives to refine raw crude oil, facing warfare and precarious working conditions. The oil refining process produces an uncontrollable amount of poisonous and explosive fumes and the unregulated working conditions have led to accidents with exploding refineries and poison-related amputations. Despite this, many young men see this kind of work as their only chance of earning a living, with schools and universities closed due to the civil war.
Interviews with workers:
First Interview (no name given):
''These are three barrels. We fill up three and we get from it one; gas, fuel and diesel. First we get the fuel. The bigger the fire, the more the product, this is the process.''
Second Interview (no name given):
''First we get the oil here; there’s water with it. We burn it for around 12 hours. First we get the fuel, after 4 or 5 hours. By then the water will be gone. Then we start getting gas and then diesel at the end. The barrel gets us 3000 liras, the gas 7 or 7 and a half, and the diesel 45 or 50. We’re not really making any money from it. We don’t want to do this anymore.”
Q: How long have you been working here and how does this effect on your health?
“It has been a month that I have worked here, there is nothing else to do. We make around 5000 Syrian Pounds ($33) on every barrel, sometimes 4000 ($26). Sometimes we only break even because the oil is expensive. In terms of side effects, your lungs get clogged. Some people are getting sick, major headaches. It is death, slow death. Sometimes there are explosions. Up until now we witnessed 5 explosions. One guy got cut in half. It doesn’t usually happen, but when you re-heat gasoline it often explodes. Someone did it and died. However this one here, if anything goes wrong, is not supposed to explode.
We don’t trust the media, they’re bias. You guys might be here to stop us from work, but this is where we get our livelihood.
I don’t want to give my name because you might shut us down and I don’t have another way to make money. Find us another job and we will shut down the refineries. I am 18 years old, I was in college studying law but I stopped."
Q: Why did you come here? What were the circumstances for you leaving college?
"I was in law school, first year. I couldn’t sustain myself, I was begging for bread. So I came here, started working and started to make a little bit of money. Eventually I left college for good. We hope things go back to the way they were so I can move on with my life. Before it was much better, we were able to travel to Damascus and Lebanon. Now we can’t because of the stealing and killing that happens on the road. So I started working in these refineries, as you can see there’s nothing else. No more studies. Even the kids are working here. We hope things get back to normal and oil prices go down, because we’re barely making it.''
First person: “Come and see the fuel coming up.”
Second Person: “This is oil with gas.”
Second Interview (no name given):
''There is a bit of water here with the fuel. Sometimes we get better oil that’s water-free, but nowadays we’re mostly getting oil mixed with water from the wells. We can’t tell where the problem is from, if it’s from the wells or the transporter. Oil prices are soaring, we get the oil for 3200 Syrian Pounds ($21) and pay an extra 500 ($3.30) to the guy. So in all you pay 3700 Syrian Pounds ($24), sometimes you break even, sometimes you lose 1000 ($6.6) or 1500 Syrian Pounds ($10).''
Third Interview - Maher Hussein:
“I scratched my hand on metal scrap from the barrels and I got oil on it. Now it’s been numb for a few weeks. Someone else got oil in his wounds so he went to a clinic and they cut off his hand. I’ve been working here for two months. I stopped working around a month ago, because of my hand."
Q: Are you scared they might cut off your hand as well?
“Of course I am afraid. I’ve been going to the doctor and getting some medicine but my hand’s not getting any better.”
Q: What did you do before working in the fields?
“I used to study and now I even stopped working here because of my hand and without oil there is no work.”
Fourth Interview – Ahmad Hamdosh:
“Before I was a schoolteacher, now I stopped school and I’m working here in the fields. We’re not sleeping at night because of the coughing. We were comfortable and happy working at the school. Now we work in oil and it’s full of sicknesses. Some guy got cancer working here. God knows what’s going to happen to my hand. There’s one guy they cut off three of his fingers because of a small scratch that he got oil on it. If they hadn’t cut them off, his whole hand would’ve been infected and they would have had cut it all off. Before you used to get compensation, now no one gives you anything and you can’t even work.
Most importantly, from the bottom of my heart I wish for security to come back. Security is the most important thing, security and affordable prices. I wish even it’d be half of what it was before. The barrels are getting here for 3500 Syrian Pounds ($23), which is almost nothing, and I’m still making sure it’s the exact amount on the scale. Now they’re charging us on the milliliter, before people used to make millions in the oil business.
My name is Ahmad and I’m 22 years old. You open this here and put in the oil, and then you turn on the fire under it. The smoke fills the upper half of the barrel, and then it goes into the tube and the pipe goes through the water and you get the fuel on the other side. After the fuel you get the gas, after the gas you get the diesel. At the end we open it here to take out the waste. We call it ‘zero’ and we keep it to fuel the fire for the barrels. A teapot, we’re heating water for tea here. We’re already getting all the smoke in our lungs; it is not going to make a difference if we boil the tea here.”
Fifth interview – Mehdi Darwish:
“I’m a business graduate. There’s nothing else to do around here. There’s no work in Hassake other then this. Working in oil is all right but the prices per barrel are getting higher and higher and the oil is coming mixed with water. We’re working hard through sweat and blood and we’re exhausting ourselves. We put in place a new oil refinery to enhance the production. The smoke goes through the tube, through the water, to cool it down and we get fuel, diesel and gas. There has to be two people working, one on the burner and the other one has to fill the tank. Out of three oil barrels we get one barrel of diesel and around 150(?) fuel and gas.”
Interview 6 – Awad Al Jasim:
“I used to work as a mechanic. I am 18 years old. I came here to work in the burners and I also have heart problems. Thank you!”
Interview 7 – Mohamed Monther:
“They [ISIL] throw the oil on the ground and take the cars and say that it is theirs now. They take the car sell it, or use it in car-bomb operations. We have nothing here we are barely getting by. They come from Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan looking for Nymphs (female sex jihadists) here. We don’t have any Nymphs here. Look at the state the Syrian people are in. This is no way to live.”
Interview 8 – No Name Given:
“Once they [ISIL] say ‘Allah Akbar’, they cut the person's head off. Is that halal? Are we chickens?”
Shot List: (Description of various shots in the video)
The rest of shots are wide shots of the refineries spread all over the main road and shots of the interviewees working, walking and talking with each other while on the makeshift refineries. The shots show the daily routine of life at the refineries.
Crude oil theft has become a common phenomena in Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, which ranks seventh among oil-producing nations. The majority of citizens in the Niger Delta live on less than $1 per day, despite the fact that the country possesses vast natural resources and produces over 2 million barrel of crude oil daily.
The resulting widespread poverty has turned many toward criminality for income, particularly oil theft.
Zoin Ibegi in the oil-rich Niger Delta says, "Many of us live below one cent a day, despite being blessed with crude oil whereby forcing many of us into illegal refinery business because we can't continue in this poverty circle."
On daily basis, crude oil is emptied into the rivers, owing to low technical-know-how of these locals are not educated on the ecological repercussions of their actions.
The Niger Delta's Joint Task Force (JTF) is responsible for eradicating oil theft in the region. Though citizens see crude oil theft as an option as a result of an inability for them to get out of poverty in another way, the JTF believes that communities in the region have shielded the "thieves" and are perpetuating a culture of criminality.
A boy hiding behind some drums, which are used to load refined oil at a river bank in Yenagoa, the capital of Niger's oil-rich state of Bayelsa.
A lady and man on a wooden boat carrying stolen crude in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where most people live below the poverty line.The locals say they make 10,000 Nigerian Naira, or $63, monthly to the break out of poverty circle.
Tula Ebiowei, 50, and his colleague work along the Nun River in Nigeria's oil-rich state of Bayelsa.
A man stands on a wooden boat containing stolen crude oil that will be conveyed to a refinery camp, along Nun river in Bayelsa State.
A child walks towards some containers filled with stolen crude oil the Deibou community of Bayelsa State.
A hose used to pump water into the distilling equipment at the illegal refinery camp along the Nun River.
A cut-to-size drum fill with crude oil at an illegal refinery camp along the Nun river in the Nigeria oil rich state of Bayelsa. Thousand of people live below one usd per day despite being blessed with crude oil and ranks seventh large oil producing nation in the world.
Most locals emerge in illicit act of stealing the crude and refined it to break out of poverty circle and also destroying the eco-system with thousand of crude spilling into the rivers
Drums and distilling equipment used at the refinery camp by the oil thieves along Nun river, in the State of Bayelsa, Nigeria
A farmhand stands nearby the home-made oil refinery, made of a rusted tank and no
more than some tubes in Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
Abu Zakharia's sons handle dangerous tasks, such as igniting the fire fueled by distillery waste in Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
Abu Zakharia's sons work with their father as one stands by the oil refinery and the other collects the produced diesel in an oil barrel in Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
A fire rages under the boiler filled with crude oil. The intense heat vaporizes the oil, after which the vapor can be cooled back down to diesel or petrol.Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013. View the full collection here: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1279
A farmhand feeds the fire under the oil boiler with distillery waste, producing oppressive smoke that stings the eyes and mouth. Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
A farmhand waits as the produced diesel pours into containers in Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
Once the diesel is made, a farmhand observes it to make sure it's pure. Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
The freshly distilled diesel is poured into a barrel, after which it can be transported to the city and sold into the streets. Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
A worker wears a gas mask while working around the refinery due to the clouds of smoke produced in the process. Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
Photos by Jeffry Ruigendijk
For full text by Annabell Van den Berghe, click here: http://transterramedia.com/media/20137
Abu Zechariah and his two sons are farmers in the Kurdish town of Ras al-Ain that are among the many people throughout Syria who have decided to start privately refining crude oil as a way to make money. Trucks come from Ramalan to Ras al-Ain, where they then begin the process. Despite the danger of using rudimentary refinery equipment, for them, the pay-off is worth the risk.
Rival rebel groups and regime forces continue to battle for control of strategic oil and gas fields in the northeast and east of the country. Since the war began, the local demand for oil has increased dramatically because of the disruption in supply to the west, which has led to small, privately-owned refineries being built throughout Syria. Though profitable, this process of refining crude oil is unhealthy and highly volatile, with the chance of an explosion anytime during the process.
Abu Zecharia sells diesel and petrol per liter, and sometimes per half-liter, in Ras al Ain, Syria, April, 2013.
A boat driver, David Sowawi, 29, drives past an illegal refinery along Nun River that has just set ablaze by the Military Authority in the Niger Delta.
An illegal refinery worker, John Sowawi, pumps water into the distilling equipment that is used to refine the stolen crude oil along Nun River, in the rich in oil-state of Bayelsa, Nigeria.
A worker at an illegal refinery camp inspecting the refinery equipment as smokes emerge behind the drums, near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012.
50 year-old,Tula Ebiowei, pours water into the distilling equipment at the illegal refinery camp along the Nun river in the Nigeria's oil rich state of Bayelsa. Thousand of people live below one usd per day despite being blessed with crude oil and ranks seventh large oil producing nation in the world.
Most locals emerge in illicit act of stealing the crude and refined it to break out of poverty circle and also destroying the eco-system with thousand of crude spilling into the rivers.
A pail containing a refined product at the illegal refinery camp along Nun River in the Nigeria's oil of state of Bayelsa.
50-year-old Tula Ebiowei, carries an empty oil container on his head to a place where it would be filled with refined product at an illegal refinery camp
along river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012.