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U.S. Gulf Coast Oils Strengthen as Refiners Prepare to Open

U.S. Gulf Coast oils strengthened as refiners prepared to restore output after Hurricane Isaac. The difference between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil widened.

Isaac, which has halted 95 percent of U.S. oil production in the Gulf, weakened into a tropical storm as it headed toward Arkansas. Valero Corp. is returning workers to the Meraux and St. Charles plants, while Placid Refining Co. is resuming operations at its Port Allen, Louisiana, refinery.

WTI’s discount versus Brent gained 98 cents to $18.03 a barrel. When Brent increases at a faster pace than WTI, it usually strengthens the value of the U.S. grades that compete with foreign oils priced against the European benchmark.

The premium for Heavy Louisiana Sweet versus West Texas Intermediate added $1.40 to $18.10 a barrel at 2:19 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Light Louisiana Sweet gained $1 to $17 over WTI.

The difference between Poseidon and the U.S. benchmark widened by 90 cents to $13 a barrel, while Mars Blend added 50 cents to $12.50. Southern Green Canyon was unchanged at $11.

Thunder Horse, a sour crude with lower sulfur content than Mars, Poseidon and Southern Green Canyon, was steady at a premium of $17 a barrel.

Syncrude’s premium above WTI rose 35 cents to $2.85. The discount for Bakken oil from North Dakota widened by $2.50 to $3 while Western Canada Select’s dropped 25 cents to $16.25.

West Texas Sour weakened 5 cents to trade $3.85 below WTI.

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