Canada crude - Maintenance work weighs on prices

Tue Sep 10, 2013 5:57pm EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Canadian cash crude prices weakened on Tuesday as planned and unplanned refinery maintenance reduced demand, prompting some traders to predict further discounts ahead.

Western Canada Select heavy grade for October delivery last traded at $24.95 per barrel below the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers.

That compares with a settlement price of $24.40 per barrel below the benchmark on Monday.

BP Plc shut a fluidic catalytic cracking unit at its 400,000 barrel per day Whiting, Indiana, refinery after the unit malfunctioned, sources said.

Husky Energy Inc, meanwhile, has planned maintenance for September at its 82,000 bpd heavy oil upgrader in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan.

Some market participants said they expected seasonal maintenance to weigh further on prices in coming weeks.

"Inside of $25 (below WTI) is expensive. I am surprised it got to that point because of the turnarounds," one Calgary-based crude trader said.

Suncor Energy Inc also has planned maintenance on one of its oil sands upgraders near Fort McMurray, Alberta. Last week the company said the 240,000 barrel per day unit, which converts mined bitumen into refinery ready-synthetic crude, would be partially closed for up to five weeks.

Despite that outage, light synthetic crude from the oil sands for October delivery weakened slightly to last trade at $1.40 per barrel below WTI, compared with a settlement price of $1.25 per barrel below the benchmark on Monday.

Synthetic prices have fallen from a premium to WTI since a coker at Syncrude's northern Alberta oil sands project came back online at the end of last month, boosting supply.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc started planned maintenance at its 100,000 barrel-per-day Scotford, Alberta, refinery, which runs light synthetic crude.