Sen. Murkowski: Energy issues 'must be a part' of anti-ISIS strategy

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said on Wednesday that energy issues "must have a seat at the table" in decisions on combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"Energy must have a seat at the table when it comes to national security and foreign policy,” Murkowski said. 

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“We cannot understand the Middle East without understanding oil," she added.

Murkowski on Wednesday released a report on how ISIS profits from black market sales of oil. The terror group has captured parts of Iraq and Syria and the energy supplies to fund its operations.

The report states that while there is "uncertainty" over how much oil ISIS is able to produce and sell, estimates from the Iraq Energy Institute and others put oil sales at roughly $1 million to $3.2 million per day. The report states that ISIS produces roughly 30,000 barrels of oil a day from its Iraq oil fields, and 50,000 a day from its Syria fields.

One analyst from the RAND Corporation said "oil is ISIL’s biggest source of revenue but also presents the biggest problem," using an alternate name for the group.

"Depriving ISIS of whatever dark revenue pool it generates from its sales of oil will put additional strain on an organization with little capacity to expand its oil field operations," Murkowski said on Wednesday.

Murkowski, the Senate's leading advocate of lifting a decades-old ban on crude oil exports, made the case that production in the U.S. could replace ISIS oil in the marketplace if countries are able to choke off the terror group's sales.

"If the coalition is able to take ISIS production off-line, the historic growth in U.S. oil production could easily make up the shortfall to global oil markets, whether ISIS production is 25,000 or 80,000 barrels per day," Murkowski said in a report from her office.

The Treasury Department said earlier this month that it would begin to step up its efforts against ISIS oil sales, and "undermine" the group's multiple sources of financing.