NEW YORK, June 19 (Reuters) - Brent crude hit a nine-month high of more than $115 a barrel on Thursday as the United States said it could send military advisers to Iraq, raising concerns about the escalating conflict.
Government forces continued to battle Sunni militants for control of Iraq's biggest refinery as U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States will send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to combat the extremist insurgency.
The Baiji refinery near Tikrit, 200 km (130 miles) north of the Iraqi capital, remained under siege as troops loyal to the Shi'ite-led government held off insurgents from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and its allies who stormed the perimeter, threatening national energy supplies.
If the 300,000 barrels per day refinery stays closed, Baghdad will need to import more oil products to meet its own domestic consumption, further tightening oil markets.
Brent rose 75 cents to $115.01 a barrel to settle at its highest since Sept. 9. It had reached a high of $115.71 earlier in the session.
The U.S. crude oil futures contract for July, which expires on Friday, rose 46 cents to settle at $106.43. The price is now pushing toward a key resistance area at $106.75, according to Dwayne Pliska, a senior trading consultant at High Ground in Chicago, Illinois.
The spread <CL-LCO1=R> between the two benchmarks widened to close at $9.01 from a spread of $8.67 the previous session.
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