* Feb WCS last trades at $19.00/bbl below WTI
* Feb synthetic last trades at $1.20/bbl above WTI
CALGARY, Alberta Jan 15 Canadian heavy crude
prices edged higher on Wednesday, helped by stronger demand from
refineries in the U.S. Midwest and increased export capacity as
Alberta's first crude oil unit train terminal started ramping up
Western Canada Select heavy blend for February delivery has
had a strong start in 2014 and was last trading at $19.00 per
barrel below the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, according to
Shorcan Energy brokers.
That compares with a settlement price of $19.20 per barrel
below the benchmark on Tuesday, and was within sight of last
week's five-month high of $18.55 per barrel below WTI.
BP Plc's 405,000 barrel per day Whiting, Indiana,
refinery underwent a revamp last year to enable it to run up to
350,000 bpd of Canadian heavy crude and is in the process of
boosting its intake.
Citgo Petroleum Corp's 174,500 bpd Lemont, Illinois,
refinery, which runs on a diet of mainly Canadian crude, is also
likely to restart its repaired 75,000 bpd vacuum distillation
unit in the second half of January, sources said.
Energy market intelligence group Genscape reported a coker
at Flint Hills Resources' 320,000 bpd Pine Bend,
Minnesota, restarted on Wednesday after being shut since Jan.
"The main driver (in the market) is demand from the PADD II
refineries," said David Bouckhout, senior commodities strategist
at TD, referring to plants in the U.S. Midwest. "There's also
the increase in movements by rail so there's some more capacity
Canadian logistics company Canexus Corp said on
Tuesday it expects to ship 30,000 bpd in February from its
terminal in Bruderheim, Alberta, Canada's first crude oil unit
train loading facility.
The company loaded Bruderheim's first unit train in December
and expects the terminal to start operating at full capacity
around 100,000 bpd of oil sands crude later this year.
Although new rail capacity is currently marginal, compared
with the roughly 3 million barrels per day produced in Western
Canada, more unit train terminals are scheduled to start
operating this year, helping alleviate the discounts caused by
This time last year WCS was trading around $41.00 per barrel
below WTI as high apportionment on pipelines left crude
bottlenecked in Alberta.
Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for February last
traded at $1.20 per barrel above WTI, down slightly from a
settlement price of $1.75 per barrel above the benchmark on