* March WCS quoted at $30.80/bbl under WTI
* March synthetic $0.50/bbl under WTI
* Apportionment eases, Kearl start-up pushed back
CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 4 Canadian heavy crude
prices strengthened on Monday from last month's deeply
discounted levels as pipeline constraints eased and Imperial Oil
Ltd pushed back the start-up of its Kearl oil sands
Western Canada Select heavy blend for March delivery last
sold for $30.80 a barrel under benchmark West Texas
Intermediate, compared with a Friday settlement of $30.50 a
barrel under. Still, the spread is much narrower than last
month, when WCS at times fetched more than $40 a barrel under.
Apportionment levels on Enbridge Inc's pipeline
network to the U.S. Midwest are below those set for last month,
easing some of the pressure on heavy prices.
The company put single-digit restrictions on Line 5, 4 and
67, and 21 percent apportionment on Line 6B.
For January, the company imposed apportionment on some of
its lines in Canada and the United States, but tacked on more
restrictions in the middle of the month, which added pressure to
already deeply discounted prices.
Also, the start-up of Imperial's 110,000 barrel a day Kearl
project in northern Alberta, first expected to begin commercial
production at the end of 2012, is now targeted for the end of
the first quarter, the company said last week. Full production
is scheduled for the "next several months".
Light synthetic crude for March delivery was quoted at 50
cents below WTI, a 35-cent deeper discount than on Friday.
Synthetic prices have held their strength in the face of tight
export pipeline capacity.