Though Syria is not a major oil producer, Western intervention there could lead to a wider conflict in the volatile Middle East, which pumps a third of the world’s oil.
Western officials told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.
Brent crude was up $3.10 at $113.83 by 1600 GMT.
US crude was up $2.96 at $108.88 a barrel, after falling 0.5% the previous day when data showed US durable goods orders had dropped the most in nearly a year.
“As the rhetoric ratchets up around Syria the geopolitical risk premium in the price of oil is once again widening,” Dominick Chirichella of Energy Management Institute said.
“Military action in Syria could result in a spreading of the chaos to the oil-producing areas of the Middle East as well as to some of the key shipping routes for crude oil.”
Commerzbank commented in a research note:”The oil price is in a kind of ‘comfort zone’ at between $100 and $120 per barrel. Ever since the Arab Spring began in early 2011, Brent has been trading for 85% of the time within this range.
“In the event of a military strike (on Syria) the risk of the situation escalating in the Middle East would increase, however, which should see oil prices climb to the top of this trading corridor.”
The United States put Assad on notice on Monday that it believes he was responsible for using chemical weapons against civilians last week in what Secretary of State John Kerry called a “moral obscenity”.
Also supporting oil, Libyan production has dropped nearly 60% to 665,000 barrels per day due to a month-long disruption by armed security guards, who shut down main export terminals, its oil minister said on Tuesday.
In the United States, weak data on home sales and durable goods orders tempered views that the Federal Reserve could start paring its economic stimulus programme as soon as September.
The American Petroleum Institute is scheduled to release its weekly oil stocks data at 2030 GMT.
A preliminary Reuters poll showed that US commercial crude stockpiles were expected to have fallen last week as refinery utilisation rates were at high levels, and gasoline inventories likely dipped primarily due to seasonal factors.