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Western Canada oil stocks swell to record high due to Keystone outage, rail strike

FILE PHOTO: Suncor Energy facility is seen in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Candace Elliott

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Western Canadian oil stocks climbed to a record high 39 million barrels as of Nov. 29 due to a temporary outage of the Keystone oil pipeline and a strike by Canadian National Railway Co workers, data provider Genscape said on Thursday.

Despite the rail strike, Canadian rail loadings in November averaged a record-high 351,000 barrels per day of oil, Genscape oil market analyst Dylan White said in a statement.

“Canadian markets remain hypersensitive to any operational disruption, particularly on outbound pipelines,” White said.

Alberta producers have struggled to move crude through congested pipelines, resulting in the provincial government curtailing production this year to reduce a glut.

The United Conservative Party government is aiming to remove the curtailments sometime next year, but bottlenecks worsened after an Oct. 29 leak in North Dakota temporarily shut down TC Energy Corp’s Keystone, a pipeline that runs from Alberta to Nebraska, for 12 days.

Keystone currently runs at reduced pressure.

Rail shipments picked up after the outage, but those were hampered by an eight-day CN strike.

Oil supply increases contributed to big inventories as maintenance at major oil sands sites concluded, White said.

The discount on heavy Canadian crude compared with U.S. light oil widened to an 11-month high after the Keystone outage, according to NE2 Canada Inc. It has since narrowed modestly, trading at a $20.05 discount in early activity on Thursday.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis

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