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Will Canada Cap Its Oil Production?

Pipeline

A normal person’s November is mostly associated with Thanksgiving, preparation for Christmas and New Year, perhaps enjoying the last days of Indian summer for those lucky enough to live in warmer places. A Canadian oilman’s November is a month brimming with dread and horror about what is to come next. When the Western Canadian Select outright price hit 14 USD per barrel on November 14, it marked the lowest point since Argus started assessing the crude in 2006. Similarly bituminous grades with a higher TAN number plummeted even lower – for instance, the Access Western Blend has hit a single-digit number that same day at 9 USD per barrel. As producers experience serious difficulties to keep production afloat against highly adverse conditions, the only genuinely burning question is - when will all this stop?

Let’s start with a bit of crude basics. Western Canadian Select is a blend of roughly 25 crude streams, combining heavily bituminous, sweet synthetic and condensate streams. Its API gravity level oscillates between 19 and 22 degrees, whilst Sulphur content amounts to 3-3.5 percent. It is also quite acidic – even though its total acid number (TAN) never surpasses 1 mgKOH/g, it is only thanks to blending heavily acidic streams with sweeter ones so as to deliberately keep it that way. But do not think that the Canadian plight has hit only bituminous crudes – Syncrude Sweet Premium (SSP), which is a 32-33 degree API and 0.2 percent Sulphur…

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