Canada crude discount doubles in 3 months

The price oil sands producers received fell back to $32 a barrel below US benchmark crude on Thursday, dropping to lows last seen in January.

The deepening discount paid for Western Canada Select – a blend of heavy oil sands crude and conventional oil – comes on top of a slide in West Texas Intermediate (WTI) to two-and-a-half month lows of $102 a barrel after an unexpected rise in US oil inventories.

Global benchmark prices in the form of North Sea Brent has also come under pressure on the possibility of detente between Iran and the West, following newly installed President Rouhani's charm offensive at the UN this week, trading for $108 on Thursday.

Today's effective price for  for bitumen-derived oil from Alberta's oil sands of $70 a barrel is a vast improvement from the five-year lows of  just $45 hit mid-December 2012, but marks something of a reversal for the blend that managed to narrow the gap to Brent to $16.50 in July this year.

The value of Syncrude, a light oil made from oil sands after undergoing an expensive upgrading process, has also reversed course over the past couple of months as a number of upgraders come on stream.

Canadian synthetic light oil now trades at a $3.50 discount to WTI compared to a steady surplus for most of this year.