The prospect of an armed confrontation with Syria sent crude prices soaring on Tuesday, with U.S. oil ending just shy of a new 2013 high as traders positioned for a new Middle East conflict.
Fears of regional instability that could crimp oil supplies sent both Brent and West Texas Intermediate surging to multimonth highs during the session, as speculation churned about an intervention in Syria. Traders spurred October U.S. crude, or WTI, to a new 2013 high at $109.32, before it cooled gains to settle at $109.01. That was its highest since February 24, 2012.
Brent crude set a new six-month high at $114.42, rallying by $3.50 on the day to its highest since Feb. 26.
NBC News reported that a missile strike against Damascus could come "as early as Thursday," citing senior U.S. sources. In an interview with the BBC, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said President Barack Obama was "ready to go" if military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad was deemed necessary.
(Read more: US strike against Syria 'as early as Thursday': NBC)
Syria ranks among the smallest oil producing nations in the Middle East, with International Energy Agency data listing the country as 32nd among global oil producers. However, with instability already roiling the region and raising widespread fears about supply, analysts say a new conflict could further poison the dynamic in the region and trigger new tensions.