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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian heavy oil prices strengthened on Tuesday as a key refinery returned a big coker unit to full services after it was damaged by a fire in July.
Western Canada Select heavy blend for October delivery last traded at a discount to benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude of $7.00 per barrel, according to Shorcan Energy Brokers. A day earlier WCS settled at $8.40 per barrel under the benchmark.
The narrowing differential came as sources said BP Plc (BP.L) resumed full operations of a delayed coker at its 337,000 barrel per day refinery at Whiting, Indiana.
The unit was said to have been operating at 50 percent of capacity since being damaged two months ago.
Prices for light synthetic crude edged lower. Synthetic for October delivery last traded at a premium to WTI of $13.50 per barrel, down from the day-earlier settlement price of $13.85 per barrel.
Prices for synthetic, which traded at a discount to the benchmark in early August, have strengthened as oil sands operators conduct maintenance on their northern Alberta facilities.
Syncrude Canada, one of the largest two Northern Alberta oil sands miners and processors, had taken a steam generator at its Aurora mine down for repairs in a move that will mean the reduction of 500,000 barrels of output in September, a source familiar with operations said last week.
Syncrude produced 359,500 barrels a day in August.
The market was already tight with Suncor Energy Inc (SU.TO) having started a six-week turnaround on a vacuum tower at one of its upgraders that will include work on a coker unit.
Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Andrew Hay