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For Once, Canada Oil Looks Better Than WTI But With a Catch

  • Canadian oil stays positive after New York futures go negative
  • Pricing system shields Canada producers from one-day excesses
A truck drives past the Syncrude Canada Ltd. facility in the Athabasca oil sands near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. New technologies such as driverless trucks and froth-treatments that eliminate the need for multibillion-dollar upgraders -- along with U.S. benchmark crude prices closer to $70 -- are helping make the industry profitable again.
A truck drives past the Syncrude Canada Ltd. facility in the Athabasca oil sands near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018. New technologies such as driverless trucks and froth-treatments that eliminate the need for multibillion-dollar upgraders -- along with U.S. benchmark crude prices closer to $70 -- are helping make the industry profitable again.Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg
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For the first time ever, Canada’s benchmark oil price was higher than the headline number in the U.S. after futures in New York cratered to negative territory, but oil-sands companies have more reason to fear than celebrate.

All too familiar with price pain, producers in northern Alberta have a less liquid market and an apples-and-oranges comparison to thank for the apparent price advantage more than anything else. The signal the crash in New York sends is far more ominous for Canada than it seems at first glance.