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Heavy discount narrows, market awaits Keystone re-start

The discount on Canadian heavy crude narrowed versus U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude on Friday, as the market awaited a possible re-start of the 590,000-barrel-per-day Keystone pipeline, an important artery for Canadian heavy crude, imported by U.S. refiners, particularly in the Midwest.Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy blend crude for December delivery in Hardisty, Alberta, was trading at $21.40 per barrel below WTI, according to Net Energy Exchange, narrower than Thursday’s settle of $22.10.

A layer of uncertainty continues about the resumption of shipments on TC Energy Corp’s Keystone after a spill last week, but most shippers feel confident about a re-start reasonably soon, said Mark Oberstoetter, director of upstream Canada for consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

The Keystone outage has been relatively easy for large shippers to navigate, since some own storage tanks and rail terminals, but smaller players have had to scramble, a trader said.

TC Energy estimates Keystone can be partially restarted anytime from Sunday to Tuesday, pending regulatory approval, after a more than 9,000-barrel leak in rural North Dakota, shippers on the line said on Thursday.

Light synthetic crude from the oil sands traded at $1.50 below WTI, a smaller discount than Thursday’s settle of $1.75 under.

The Canadian province of Alberta said new conventional oil wells could be drilled without being subject to government production limits, in a bid to boost its ailing economy.

Oil prices pared losses, after earlier falling more than 1% following comments from U.S. President Donald Trump that he has not agreed to roll back tariffs on China.

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