Bakken Pipeline Premium at 6-Month High on Syncrude Turnaround

Bakken crude in Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline system strengthened to its highest premium over prices at the well in nearly six months as planned maintenance reduced the amount of light crude available to Midwest refineries.

The 350,000-barrel-a-day Syncrude upgrader in Alberta began work on a coker earlier this week that had been scheduled for the second half of the year, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the project’s largest owner, said in a June 10 statement.

Syncrude is a light crude from oil-sands bitumen processed in an upgrader. It competes for space in Midwest refineries with Bakken oil that is piped through Enbridge’s North Dakota system and put on Enbridge’s mainline in Clearbrook, Minnesota.

Bakken oil priced in Clearbrook was unchanged at a premium of $15.69 a barrel more than the Plains Marketing LP posted price for Williston Basin Sweet Crude at 4:12 p.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s the highest level since Dec. 20.

The spread between the two prices had narrowed in recent months as producers loaded oil directly onto trains headed to refineries on the East, West and Gulf coasts, where waterborne crude is more expensive. About 71 percent of Bakken oil was transported by rail in March, compared to 20 percent by pipe, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

Bakken at Clearbrook was unchanged compared to West Texas Intermediate in Cushing, Oklahoma, at a $3.50-a-barrel premium. Syncrude weakened 50 cents to an $11-a-barrel premium over the U.S. benchmark.

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