OREANDA-NEWS. March 29, 2017. Tightening global crude supply and the completion of US Gulf coast refinery turnarounds has pushed sour crude prices in the Americas higher compared to their benchmarks.

Offshore medium sour Mars averaged a $1.80/bl discount to West Texas Intermediate (WTI) during the April trade month, its strongest value relative to the US light sweet crude benchmark since September 2015. Mars volumes hit a new high during the April trade month ended 24 March, with 588,734 b/d reported changing hands, up from 569,198 b/d a month prior.

LOOP Sour crude ended April trade just over parity to Mars for the first time since 22 December on rising medium sour crude demand at the US Gulf coast. LOOP Sour crude during April trade sold out of the LOOP sour crude storage caverns averaged a 39?/bl discount to Mars during that time frame, up from an average 46?/bl discount during the March trade month.

Argus launches an all-day volume-weighted average assessment for LOOP Sour crude starting today, along with additional pricing data available through 3 January.

Poseidon hit its narrowest discount since September 2015 at an average $1.99/bl discount to WTI during April trade. Texas-delivered Southern Green Canyon (SGC) averaged a $2.16/bl discount to WTI, up from a $2.48/bl discount the prior month and its strongest monthly average since October 2015.

Offshore sour crude prices are partially supported by the completion of first-quarter refinery turnarounds at the US Gulf coast that would increase demand for sour crude over light sweet.

Crude input at US Gulf coast refineries increased 2.3pc to 8.37mn b/d during the week ended 17 March, according to the latest weekly data by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Input increased 4.9pc compared to the 7.97mn b/d during the same week of February.

Utilization at US Gulf coast refineries increased 3.1 percentage points week-on-week to 89pc during the week ended 17 March, up from 85.9pc the week prior and from 84.2pc one month ago, EIA data shows.

US Gulf of Mexico sours have been drawing additional support from global export interest amid tighter Mideast Gulf supplies following the Opec and non-Opec agreements to cut production through the first half of 2017 — an agreement that may be extended beyond the initial six-month period.

Exports from Iraq's southern terminals averaged 3.24mn b/d in February, down from 3.27mn b/d in January, according to data from state oil marketer Somo.