* March WCS quoted at $24.25/bbl under WTI
* Narrowest WCS spread since Oct 23
* March synthetic $1.30/bbl over WTI
CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 8 Canadian heavy crude
prices rose on Friday for the sixth straight session this month
as reduced pipeline rationing made for improved access to
markets and as Imperial Oil Ltd worked to return
operations at an Ontario refinery to normal.
Western Canada Select heavy blend for March delivery last
sold for $24.25 a barrel under benchmark West Texas
Intermediate, narrowing its discount from a Thursday settlement
of $25 a barrel under, according to Shorcan Energy Brokers. That
was its tightest differential since Oct 23.
WCS gains have been steady after two months of discounts
that at times topped $40 a barrel. Surging production, tight
pipeline capacity and a series of refinery outages were blamed
for the slump, and those fundamentals are largely unchanged.
Imperial said it was returning operations at the 121,000
barrel a day Sarnia, Ontario, refinery to normal following a
undisclosed problem at the end of January.
Apportionment levels on Enbridge Inc's pipeline
network to the U.S. Midwest are below those set for last month,
easing some of the price pressure, traders have said.
In addition, 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. Full production is scheduled for
the "next several months".
Light synthetic crude prices also gained on Friday. It was
last quoted at $1.30 a barrel above WTI, up 40 cents from
This week, Suncor Energy Inc and Syncrude Canada
reported lower oil sands-derived crude production for January.