UPDATE 4-Phillips 66 sees Bakken crude priced to move to US coasts

Wed May 1, 2013 4:09pm EDT
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* Phillips 66 says narrowed Brent-WTI spread will not make Bakken uncompetitive

* Advantaged crude runs reached 68 pct in 1st qtr, up from 60 pct

* Refined product exports up

By Kristen Hays

May 1 (Reuters) - Independent refiner Phillips 66 expects North Dakota's Bakken crude oil to be competitively priced to move via rail to East and West coast markets despite a narrowing of the U.S. crude benchmark's price discount to London's Brent, an executive told analysts on Wednesday.

Crude from the Bakken shale oil play, as well as growing crude production in other U.S. regions, has been a profit boon for refiners because it trades cheaper than global crudes priced off Brent. However, that discount has narrowed, raising concerns that the cost advantage could shrink or even disappear.

Tim Taylor, executive vice president for commercial, marketing, transportation and business development for Phillips 66, said during a conference call after the company released first-quarter earnings that Bakken crude needs to get to those markets, and the market will price it to move.

West Texas Intermediate's discount to Brent slipped under $9 a barrel on Wednesday as Brent fell below $100 a barrel on concerns about economic growth in China and the United States. The U.S. demand outlook also weakened on the heels of a buildup in U.S. crude stocks.

U.S. crude benchmark West Texas Intermediate's discount to Brent surpassed $23 in February.   Continued...