December 4, 2013 / 10:00 PM / in 4 years

Canada crude - Synthetic grades strengthen in thin trade

CALGARY, Alberta, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Canadian synthetic crude prices climbed to the strongest level in more than two months on Wednesday, shrugging off production data showing healthy supply as Syncrude oil sands output hit a 2013 high in November.

Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for January delivery last traded at $8.00 per barrel below the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers.

That was the narrowest differential since late September, and compares with a settlement price on Tuesday of $8.75 per barrel below WTI.

Traders in Calgary reported muted trading volumes and said the market was little affected by numbers showing production from the Syncrude oil sands project in northern Alberta reached 323,600 barrels per day last month.

Instead, some were betting there could be production outages in coming weeks as winter intensifies. Temperatures in the oil sands region can drop as low as -40C in winter months, making operations difficult.

“It’s guys just banking on bad weather and upgrader issues,” one crude trader said. “Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn‘t.”

On Tuesday Suncor Energy Inc, Canada’s largest oil company, reported record oil sands production of 437,000 bpd in November, providing further evidence of the booming production that helped push heavy crude prices to a 10-month low of $41.50 per barrel below WTI on Nov. 5.

Western Canada Select heavy blend for January delivery last traded at $30.90 per barrel below WTI, little changed from a settlement price of $31.00 per barrel below the benchmark on Tuesday.

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