Since it was invaded three years ago, Iraq has lost more than $10 billion in oil revenues. Corruption and sabotage are largely to blame. And U.S. and Iraqi officials say insurgents are benefiting. But many say the Oil Ministry's own militia, contracted to protect the infrastructure, seems to be at the heart of the problem. Sixteen battalions of Iraqi troops are tasked with protecting the oil infrastructure.
Iraq has almost 5,000 miles of pipeline — but the crippling attacks are focused in a small triangle in the center and north of the country, where the ministry battalions are based. The resulting damage has repeatedly interrupted the flow of crude oil and gas as it crippled a major refinery and electricity generating plant. The attacks have also both hampered oil exports and created serious fuel shortages in Baghdad.