How Canadian Drillers Adapt To Extreme Crude Discounts

Canada’s oil producers had just started to slowly recover from the oil price crash when they began to face increased constraints in marketing and monetizing their heavy crude oil. Transportation bottlenecks widened the discount to which Western Canadian Select (WCS)—the benchmark price of oil from Canada’s oil sands delivered at Hardisty, Alberta—trades relative to West Texas Intermediate (WTI), weighing on Canadian producers’ revenues and profits, increasing their debts, and battering their share prices.

Some Canadian producers have started to actively market non-core assets, trying to dispose of heavy oil portfolios that they can’t monetize efficiently with WCS at some $20 or higher discount to WTI. Others have slowed down production in response to increased market access constraints. Some analysts even think that producers would better allocate the cash they make to buying back shares instead of drilling new wells to boost production.

Earlier this week, Obsidian Energy said that it was exploring a potential sale of the Alberta Viking assets and that it was in talks with China Investment Corporation (CIC) to sell its share of the jointly owned Peace River assets. Obsidian plans to use any potential proceeds from sales to fund growth at its core Cardium assets, cut debt, and buy back shares…


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