UPDATE 2-Canadian Oil Sands sees oil discounts lingering

Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:16pm EST
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* 2013 spending pegged at C$1.3 billion

* Bakken output growth fueling synthetic discounts

* Production to increase 4 percent to 301,000 bpd

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Canadian Oil Sands Ltd , which has the largest stake in the Syncrude Canada Ltd oil sands project in northern Alberta, expects booming U.S. light crude production to keep on pressuring prices for the synthetic oil that Syncrude pumps out in large volumes, its chief executive said on Friday.

Canadian Oil Sands, which announced a C$1.3 billion ($1.3 billion) 2013 capital spending budget late Thursday, expects its product to fetch $5 a barrel less on average than the U.S. oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, next year.

The differential varies widely. In 2011, synthetic fetched a premium to WTI of $8.27 a barrel on average, and in 2012, it has sold for an average discount of $1.38 a barrel, according to Shorcan Energy Brokers.

Syncrude, a joint venture of international oil companies, produces light crude processed from the oil sands, which has similar characteristics to the oil produced in fast-growing volumes in the Bakken region of North Dakota using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques.

The International Energy Agency last week singled out the Bakken as one of the main drivers of its forecast for the United States to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer by 2017.   Continued...