December 2, 2016 / 11:12 PM / 9 months ago

Grades narrow slightly on second day of new trade cycle

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian cash crude differentials narrowed slightly on Friday, although synthetic grades remained near recent lows as a result of robust oil sands production.

Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for January delivery last traded at $2.55 per barrel below the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers. That compared with a settle of $2.75 per barrel below WTI on Thursday.

Synthetic prices have been under pressure in recent months as Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNQ.TO) ramps up production at its Horizon oil sands project expansion in northern Alberta, while existing facilities like Syncrude are performing well.

Western Canada Select heavy blend crude for January delivery changed hands at $15.45 per barrel below WTI, having settled at $15.55 per barrel under the benchmark on Thursday.

A report released on Friday by RBC Capital Markets showed bitumen production from oil sands thermal projects, which does not include output from mining projects, reached a record high of 1.48 million barrels a day in October 2016.

That rising trend is likely to continue as Conoco Phillips' (COP.N) Surmont project and Husky Energy's Sunrise facility are both in the process of ramping up production, adding more volumes to the market.

Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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