CALGARY, Alberta, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Canadian heavy crude prices were steady in thin trade on Thursday, with some traders relieved by news that pipeline apportionment on Enbridge Inc’s crude export network in September will be broadly in line with other months.
Enbridge, whose lines carry the bulk of Canada’s crude oil exports to the United States, said it will ration space on Line 6B and 14 in September by 28 percent and 6 percent respectively.
Those figures were a relief to some traders who had warned apportionment could rise after Enbridge recently changed the rules on how shippers nominate capacity on pipelines. Higher apportionment can lead to crude getting bottle-necked in Canada, and push prices lower.
“It’s a bit of a pleasant surprise (and) lower than expected under the new rules. I do expect these levels to increase incrementally over the next several months,” one Calgary-based crude trader said.
Western Canada Select heavy blend for September delivery last traded at $23.75 per barrel below the benchmark West Texas Intermediate. That compares with a settlement price of $24.00 per barrel below the benchmark on Wednesday.
There were no trades in WCS for October delivery on Shorcan Energy brokers, and volumes were light. The Canadian crude market is outside the nearly three-week-long trading “window” - from the first of the month until the day before pipeline nominations are due - when the bulk of trading takes place.
Canadian heavy oil prices have been drifting lower in recent weeks on increased production from Imperial Oil’s Kearl oil sands project and in anticipation of seasonal refinery maintenance starting next month.
There were no trades in light synthetic crude from the oil sands for September delivery, according to Shorcan Energy brokers. The September contract settled on Thursday at $3.00 per barrel above WTI.