* WCS for March quoted at $22.75/bbl under WTI
* Narrowest differential since late October
* March synthetic quoted at $2.80/bbl over WTI
CALGARY, Alberta, Feb 12 Canadian heavy crude
differentials narrowed to the lowest in four months on Tuesday
even though Saskatchewan's only oil refinery closed its coker
unit a day earlier while it investigates the cause of a fire.
Western Canada Select heavy grade for March delivery last
traded at a $22.75 per barrel discount to the West Texas
Intermediate benchmark, according to Shorcan Energy Brokers.
It was the tightest differential to the benchmark since late
October and compares with a settlement price on Monday of $24.75
per barrel under WTI.
Prices for the heavy crude have improved for seven of the
last eight trading sessions. With improved pipeline access to
the U.S. Midwest market and few big refineries conducting
maintenance, Western Canada Select has rebounded for discounts
of more than $40 per barrel in mid-January.
The improving prices comes despite the shutdown of the coker
unit, which processes heavy crude, at the 145,000 barrel per day
Co-op Refining Complex in Regina, Saskatchewan, following a fire
in the unit's pump house early on Monday.
Officials could not say when the unit will re-open as they
investigated the cause of the blaze.
Prices for light synthetic crude also improved on
speculation that the Syncrude Canada Ltd oil sands project would
lower its production target for February.
Canadian Oil Sands Ltd, Syncrude's largest
shareholder, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Synthetic crude for March delivery last traded for a $2.80
per barrel premium to West Texas Intermediate, up from a Monday
settlement price of $1.50 per barrel over the benchmark.