Oil sands synthetic crude hits 9-month highs, maintenance looms

CALGARY, Alberta, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 1:30pm EDT

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CALGARY, Alberta, April 1 (Reuters) - Light synthetic crude from the oil sands hit a nine-month high on Tuesday as traders looked ahead to planned maintenance at the 286,000 barrel per day Syncrude project in northern Alberta.

Synthetic crude for May delivery traded as high as $4.25 per barrel above the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, the strongest level since early July, before easing to last trade at $3.95 per barrel above WTI.

On Monday synthetic crude for May delivery settled at $3.25 per barrel above the benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy brokers.

Two traders in Calgary said synthetic prices were rising in anticipation of maintenance at the Syncrude project that is due to start during the second quarter.

Canadian Oil Sands, which owns the largest share in Syncrude, said earlier this year it would start maintenance on a major bitumen upgrader known as Coker 8-2 during the second quarter.

A spokesman for Canadian Oil Sands said that maintenance was still scheduled but declined to give further details on when exactly it will start. (Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by David Gregorio)

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