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Heavy crude differential narrows on strong demand, curtailed output

The Canadian heavy oil differential narrowed against the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark on Monday:* The heavy crude differential remains tight compared with WTI as demand for heavy crude is strong among U.S. Gulf Coast refiners due to sanctions against Venezuela’s state oil company, a Calgary-based trader said.

* Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy blend crude for March delivery in Hardisty, Alberta, traded on Monday afternoon at $9.75 a barrel below WTI crude futures , narrower than Friday’s settle of $10.65 below WTI, according to Net Energy Exchange.

* Strong demand and prices at the Gulf is encouraging shippers to move volumes out of Canada by rail, the trader said. Imperial Oil , one of Canada’s biggest crude producers, said last week, however, that it was reducing rail shipments to “near zero” because they were uneconomic due to Alberta’s forced production curtailments that narrowed differentials.

* Alberta eased oil curtailments in February and March, earlier than expected.

* Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for March delivery traded at $1 below WTI, compared with Friday’s settle of 85 cents under WTI.

* Global oil prices fell on Monday after disappointing U.S. factory data sparked fresh concerns about a slowdown in the global economy, but losses were limited as OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela brightened the supply outlook.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba Editing by Susan Thomas)


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