Canada crude -Heavy grades extend gains to hit 5-month high

Mon Jan 6, 2014 4:50pm EST
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* Feb WCS trades at $19.00/bbl below WTI

* Feb synthetic trades at $2.75/bbl above WTI

CALGARY, Alberta Jan 6 (Reuters) - Canadian heavy crude prices extended gains to reach five-month highs on Monday, helped by concerns about harsh weather affecting oil sands production in northern Alberta.

Oil sands projects are designed to cope with extreme cold but recent temperature swings have prompted some traders to bet that production could slow down.

Some market players also said the market is anticipating increased demand from BP Plc's 405,000 bpd Whiting, Indiana, refinery after a revamp last year.

Western Canada Select heavy blend for February delivery last traded at $19.00 per barrel below the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers.

That was the narrowest differential since late July and compares with a settlement price of $20.00 per barrel below the benchmark on Friday.

Canadian heavy crude prices have rallied steadily since slipping to $41.50 per barrel below WTI in early November.

"The restart of Whiting refinery is starting to have some impact," said Martin King, analyst at FirstEnergy Capital in Calgary. "Overall we are seeing a better clean-up of excess volumes (in the market)."   Continued...