Mars Blend and other Gulf of Mexico crudes strengthened on concern that the conflict in Syria might spread and threaten imports from the Middle East.
The U.S., France and Britain moved closer to a military strike as they laid the legal groundwork to justify action over Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Brent, the European benchmark, may advance to $150 a barrel if supplies are disrupted, Societe Generale SA said.
The U.S. imported 2.12 million barrels a day of crude in May from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, 27 percent of total shipments, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The conflict in Syria probably “won’t impact imports directly, but it will impact the price,” said Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston.
Brent strengthened to a premium of $6.51 a barrel more than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate, based on settlement prices, the most since June 21. Gulf crudes compete with foreign oils priced against Brent for space in U.S. refineries.
Light Louisiana Sweet, the light, sweet benchmark on the Gulf Coast, gained 45 cents to a premium of $3.25 a barrel over WTI at 3:53 p.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Heavy Louisiana Sweet gained 70 cents to a premium of $3.60.
Mars Blend, a medium, sour crude from the Gulf, strengthened by 70 cents versus WTI to a discount of $2 a barrel. The discount for Poseidon crude narrowed by 90 cents to $3.10. Southern Green Canyon strengthened by 25 cents to $3.90 a barrel less than WTI. Thunder Horse crude gained 25 cents to 35 cents a barrel more than WTI.
LLS strengthened against Mexican Maya crude, the heavy, sour benchmark on the Gulf Coast, gaining 28 cents to $10.03 a barrel. The LLS-Maya differential is an indication of how profitable heavy Gulf Coast refineries are.