Canadian Synthetic Oil Gains on Plant Unit Start, Upgrader Work

Canadian synthetic light crude strengthened to its highest level in three weeks against U.S. benchmark oil as a refinery restarted units and an oil-sands upgrader underwent maintenance.

Consumers’ Co-Operatives Refineries Ltd. plans a February restart of several production units damaged in an fire last fall at its 94,980-barrel-a-day refinery in Regina, Saskatchewan, Daryl Oshanek, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail today.

Syncrude, a synthetic light oil derived from bitumen, strengthened from parity to a $2-a-barrel premium above U.S. West Texas Intermediate, according to data provided by Calgary oil broker Net Energy Inc. It was the highest price for Syncrude since Dec. 11, according to historical data compiled by Bloomberg.

Supplies of synthetic crude may also be limited by maintenance begun Dec. 26 at Nexen Inc.’s Long Lake upgrader in Alberta. Long Lake produced about 34,000 barrels a day at the end of October, according to the company’s third-quarter earnings release.

Western Canada Select, a heavy blend mainly produced from oil sands bitumen, rose 85 cents a barrel to $32.25 below WTI, according to Net Energy. The oil grade last traded at that level on Dec. 10, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The heavy grade reached a record low of $42.50 below WTI on Dec. 14, as traders were concerned that increasing production in western Canada would overwhelm pipeline capacity.

Kearl Project

Imperial Oil Ltd.’s 110,000-barrel-a-day Kearl project may begin production in January, Chief Executive Officer Bruce March said after a presentation at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producer’s investment symposium in Toronto on Dec. 10.

In the U.S., crudes produced offshore in the Gulf of Mexico weakened.

Light Louisiana Sweet’s premium to WTI shrank 70 cents to $18.75 a barrel as of 4:13 p.m. New York time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Heavy Louisiana Sweet’s premium to benchmark WTI narrowed 25 cents to the same level.

The premium for Mars Blend declined 60 cents to $13.90 above WTI. Poseidon slipped 65 cents to a $14.10 premium. Southern Green Canyon fell 80 cents to a $14.10 premium and Thunder Horse lost 25 cents to $16.25 above WTI.

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