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

B.C. Provincial Election candidates for the North Island riding. (Campbell River Mirror graphic)
Over 4,300 mail-in ballots returned so far in North Island district

Elections BC provides progress report before vote count

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

Campbell River Remembrance Day Ceremony 2019. Campbell River Mirror file photo
Campbell River Remembrance Day Ceremony to go ahead in reduced form

Public asked not to attend; event will be streamed on social media, Shaw TV

Father Charles Brandt, a hermit priest. File Photo
Black Creek environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats

Two suspects seen outside of Gord Knight Auto on Oct. 27 at around 4:15 a.m. Campbell River RCMP are looking for information on these suspects’ identities. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP look for suspects in break-in cases

Two suspects caught on surveilance video

Sooke’s Paul Larouche enjoys gold panning along the Sooke River, looking for small treasures. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Search and Rescue Technicians carry a stretcher to the CH149 Cormorant during a 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Exercise in Tofino on February 28. (Photo by: Cpl Joey Beaudin, 19 Wing Imaging, Comox)
Father and son found dead after weeklong search near Pemberton

The father and son had set out for a day of mushroom picking last Thursday

A full moon rises over Mt. Cheam on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Rare full moon, Daylight Saving makes for a uniquely spooky Halloween – despite COVID-19

We can’t host costume parties but this weekend is still one for the history books

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Most Read