Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy blend crude for February delivery in Hardisty, Alberta, traded on Monday afternoon for a differential as little as $9.75 a barrel below WTI crude futures, compared with Friday’s settle at $11.25 below WTI, according to Net Energy Exchange.
The intraday low is the lowest differential, or discount, on Canadian heavy crude to WTI since September, 2017, according to Net Energy data.
End users are eager to buy Canadian crude, but producers are hesitant to sell all of their output due to confusion about the impact of the Alberta government’s production cuts, a Calgary-based trader said.
Alberta mandated production cuts amounting to 325,000 barrels per day (bpd) starting this month in an effort to drain the Canadian province’s excess crude in storage.
The government, on Dec. 30, then made amendments to its curtailment rules, factoring in exemptions for some facilities that had been increasing production and for operators with single projects, along with taking into account safety considerations.
Global oil prices climbed more than 2 percent on Monday, rebounding further from 1-1/2-year lows reached in December, on support from OPEC production cuts and steadying equities markets.
Canadian bank RBC forecast the WCS-WTI differential in 2019 at $19.15/barrel, narrower than its previous estimate of $25.47/bbl.
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)