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Gulf Crudes Strengthen Against WTI as Imports to Region Decline

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Gulf Coast crudes strengthened against domestic benchmark West Texas Intermediate after a government report showed reduced imports to the region.

Oil imports to the PADD 3 region, which includes the Gulf Coast, fell by 129,000 barrels to 3.3 million in the week ended March 15, according to a report by the Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Energy Department.

Gulf Coast crudes Light Louisiana Sweet and Heavy Louisiana Sweet increased their premiums to WTI. LLS gained $1 to $23.25 a barrel and HLS 85 cents to $24.10 at 2:05 p.m. New York time, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Other domestic oils also strengthened. Poseidon’s premium gained 60 cents to $19 a barrel and Mars Blend 60 cents to $18.85. Thunder Horse gained 75 cents to a $21 premium and Southern Green Canyon was unchanged at $15.25 above WTI.

In Texas’s Permian Basin, WTI Midland weakened by 20 cents to trade at a 45-cent discount to the same grade delivered to the U.S. supply hub in Cushing, Oklahoma.

Refiners neared the end of maintenance season after planned turnarounds between January and March took 1.13 million barrels a day of crude processing capacity offline, according to IIR Energy, a Sugar Land, Texas-based energy-information provider. From April to June, that figure will drop to 676,000 barrels.

Phillips 66’s Wood River, Illinois, refinery returned a 120,000-barrel-a-day crude unit to full rates, and plans to return a 150,000-barrel-a-day unit within a week, said a person familiar with the matter on Mar. 18.

On the Gulf Coast, Valero Energy Corp.’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery restarted its 57,000-barrel-a-day hydrocracker over the weekend after it had been shut since March 7 for repairs, a spokesman said by e-mail Mar. 18.

Canadian crudes Western Canada Select narrowed the discount to WTI by $2 to $18 a barrel. Syncrude weakened 25 cents to a $6 premium. Index trading for April delivery for the grades ended on March 15. Most of the volume in Canadian grades is traded during the index period, which begins on the first of the month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eliot Caroom in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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