Western Canadian oil pricing

A lot of discussion happening about pipelines, market access and crude differentials these days.  I’ve started using this map as a means of illustrating the various levels to this debate.  First, it’s important to always note that all oil is not equal – if you’re looking at a WTI-WCS differential and getting really upset about it, keep in mind that you’re conflating heavy crude in Alberta with light crude in Oklahoma – there are pricing differences due to location and quality involved.  It’s generally more useful to look at apples-to-apples comparisons, and for that a Maya-WCS differential is very useful.  Today, Maya is trading at almost $25 per barrel above WCS based (almost entirely) on geography.  Pipeline tolls to the Gulf Coast are less than $10 per barrel and so, if efficient infrastructure were in place, we could expect to see at least $15 more per barrel for our product today than we are currently receiving.  That hurts.


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