Canada crude -Heavy grades hold recent gains on strong demand

Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:33pm EST
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* Feb WCS last trades at $19.00/bbl below WTI

* Feb synthetic last trades at $1.20/bbl above WTI

CALGARY, Alberta Jan 15 (Reuters) - Canadian heavy crude prices edged higher on Wednesday, helped by stronger demand from refineries in the U.S. Midwest and increased export capacity as Alberta's first crude oil unit train terminal started ramping up shipments.

Western Canada Select heavy blend for February delivery has had a strong start in 2014 and was last trading at $19.00 per barrel below the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers.

That compares with a settlement price of $19.20 per barrel below the benchmark on Tuesday, and was within sight of last week's five-month high of $18.55 per barrel below WTI.

BP Plc's 405,000 barrel per day Whiting, Indiana, refinery underwent a revamp last year to enable it to run up to 350,000 bpd of Canadian heavy crude and is in the process of boosting its intake.

Citgo Petroleum Corp's 174,500 bpd Lemont, Illinois, refinery, which runs on a diet of mainly Canadian crude, is also likely to restart its repaired 75,000 bpd vacuum distillation unit in the second half of January, sources said.

Energy market intelligence group Genscape reported a coker at Flint Hills Resources' 320,000 bpd Pine Bend, Minnesota, restarted on Wednesday after being shut since Jan. 13.

"The main driver (in the market) is demand from the PADD II refineries," said David Bouckhout, senior commodities strategist at TD, referring to plants in the U.S. Midwest. "There's also the increase in movements by rail so there's some more capacity there."   Continued...