The discount on Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy crude versus the North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was steady on Thursday:
* WCS for February delivery in Hardisty, Alberta, settled at $19.15 a barrel under WTI, according to brokerage CalRock, unchanged from the previous day.
* The Canada Energy Regulator (CER) will hold an oral hearing on Friday to decide whether to grant a variance request from the Trans Mountain expansion (TMX) project, which has been dogged by years of delay and cost over-runs.
* The 590,000 barrel-per-day expansion is meant to start operating by the end of March and the CER’s decision will be key in determining when the project will be completed.
* WCS has been under pressure for months on concerns about further delays and trade was quiet this week with many people waiting to see what will happen on Friday, one Calgary-based broker said.
* Temperatures are plummeting in western Canada’s oil-producing regions and set to fall as low as -40C (-40F) over the weekend.
* Global oil prices gained about 1% after Iran seized an oil tanker off the coast of Oman, raising the prospect of escalating conflict in the Middle East.
(Reporting by Nia Williams in British Columbia; Editing by Maju Samuel)