The differential on Canadian heavy crude against the North American benchmark widened slightly on Thursday:
* Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy blend crude for September delivery in Hardisty, Alberta, was trading at $13 per barrel below West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, according to Net Energy Exchange. On Wednesday, it settled at $12.90 below WTI.
* A boost in rail shipments and draining crude supplies in Alberta are keeping the differential tight, a Calgary-based trader said. U.S. Gulf Coast refiners are underpinning demand for Canadian heavy oil, the trader said.
* Western Canadian crude oil inventories fell in July to their lowest level in nearly two years, energy information provider Genscape said on Wednesday.
* The Alberta provincial government ordered curtailments in January but has gradually reduced them since, including for September.
* Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for September delivery traded at $1.10 a barrel over WTI, with the premium dwindling from Wednesday’s settle of $1.45 per barrel over the benchmark.
* Oil jumped more than 2% on expectations that falling prices could lead to production cuts, coupled with a steadying of China’s yuan currency.