Gluts, price differential: 6 things to know about Canada’s oil-price gap

Alberta says about 190,000 barrels of raw crude oil and bitumen are being produced each day that can’t be shipped out

The Alberta government has ordered a mandatory cut to crude oil production next year to deal with historically low prices being paid for Canadian oil. Here are six things to know about Canada’s resource:

Light or heavy: Each type of oil around the world has its own price. New-York-traded West Texas Intermediate (WTI), delivered at Cushing, Okla., is the benchmark price for light crude oil in North America. Western Canadian Select (WCS) is the reference price for heavy crude oil from the oilsands delivered at Hardisty, Alta.

Price differential: Canada’s heavy crude usually trades at a discount because of refining and transportation costs, so a price gap or differential is typical between WTI and WCS.

Record gap: The differential is usually between US$10 to US$15 per barrel. The biggest gap — US$52 per barrel — was recorded in October. Experts say the extreme discount happened due to a reliance on high-cost transportation — rail and truck — instead of new pipelines.

READ MORE: B.C. gas prices to hit highest levels in years: GasBuddy forecast

READ MORE: Alberta cuts oil production to help deal with low prices

The glut: Alberta says about 190,000 barrels of raw crude oil and bitumen are being produced each day that can’t be shipped out. Roughly 35 million barrels, about twice the normal level, are in storage.

Cutting production: The province has ordered the output of raw crude oil and bitumen to be reduced by 8.7 per cent, or 325,000 barrels per day, starting in January. As the excess storage clears, the reduction is expected to drop to 95,000 barrels a day until the end of next December. The move is expected to narrow the differential by at least $4 per barrel.

Winners and losers: Calgary economist Trevor Tombe says $4 per barrel doesn’t sound like much but, over a year, it’s worth about $1 billion to the Alberta government’s budget. While some companies will also benefit, those with their own refining and upgrading operations may not.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province buys Paul’s Motor Inn to house Victoria’s homeless population

Inn is the second hotel the province has purchased to support vulnerable community

Fire at Victoria hotel contained to one room, leaves 20 suites in need of remediation

Fire crews extinguished the blaze at the Comfort Inn in 12 minutes

Telus headquarters to come to Victoria in ‘landmark building’ development

City sells land on coroner of Douglas and Humboldt streets for $8.1 million

Victoria man identified as victim in Thunder Bay murder

Police investigating after Paul Vivier, 29, discovered in hotel

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Most Read