* Maintenance to last for several weeks
* June WCS heavy crude discount widens
* Nanticoke refinery also undergoing upkeep
CALGARY, Alberta, May 8 Imperial Oil Ltd
has taken a processing unit at its Sarnia, Ontario,
refinery down for several weeks of unscheduled maintenance
following a weekend disruption, a move that pressured Canadian
heavy crude oil prices.
Imperial said on Tuesday it will manage supply to minimize
potential impacts to customers of its 121,000 barrel a day
plant. Other parts of the refinery will remain in operation
during the work, the company said.
"The maintenance work that's currently under way will
provide us with an opportunity to conduct regular maintenance
projects and also address any issues related to Sunday's
operational issue," Imperial spokesman Jon Harding said.
On Sunday, a plume of black smoke rose from a coker unit at
the refinery, and the company cut crude supply to the equipment,
which is used to process heavy oil. The all-clear was five hours
after the morning incident, according to the company.
On Tuesday, Western Canada Select heavy crude, a frequently
quoted Canadian heavy oil benchmark, sold for $16.30 a barrel
under West Texas Intermediate for June delivery, a $1.05 deeper
discount than on Monday. Traders cited the uncertainty of the
Sarnia outage for the drop.
Harding declined to give a more precise estimate for the
expected duration of the shutdown or the capacity of the coker
Imperial is also conducting maintenance on various units at
its other southern Ontario refinery, the 112,000 barrel a day
Nanticoke plant, Harding said. That work is also expected to
last for several weeks.