Q:So I thought Iraq had a whole lot of oil. But lines at gas stations are mile-long and Iraqis constantly tell us they don’t have any oil. What’s up with that?

A: This is actually a very complicated issue, but it boils down to this: thanks to bad infrastructure, attacks on said bad infrastructure, and all-out thievery, the supply just isn’t there.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, Iraq put out 1.9 million barrels a day in late 2005. That’s a dip from pre-war levels of 2.3 million barrels a day. Iraq’s oil infrastructure has been attacked nearly 90 times this year, according to the Iraq Pipeline Watch (, which watches the pipeline that runs from northern Iraq to the main refinery in Beiji.

Additionally, reconstruction work on the leaky pipeline has fallen behind schedule. It all comes down, then, to simple supply and demand: with the attacks, the siphoning off, and the security situation, fuel is much harder to come by than it used to be. That’s why you see people setting up carts, trucks and all sorts of other black-market fuel stands along the roads.

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