Alberta seeks to cut oil to British Columbia in Canada pipeline row

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Alberta officials will introduce legislation on Monday expected to give the provincial government power to cut oil shipments to neighboring British Columbia in an escalation of a row over the stalled expansion of a Kinder Morgan Canada pipeline, which the Pacific province opposes.

The Trans Mountain expansion issue has pitted Ottawa against British Columbia (B.C.). It could turn into a constitutional crisis, derail Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s energy strategy and dent business confidence. [L1N1RQ1DW]

Alberta’s legislation, slated for Monday afternoon, could make gasoline more expensive in British Columbia and comes a day after an emergency summit to unlock the stalemate failed. On Sunday, Trudeau pledged financial aid to the C$7.4 billion ($5.9 billion) project, reiterating Ottawa has jurisdiction over it and it will be built.

But shortly after the summit ended, B.C. Premier John Horgan tweeted: “I will continue to fight to defend B.C. jobs, our economy and environment – now, and for future generations.”

Horgan campaigned on a pledge to block the expansion, which would nearly triple capacity on the existing pipeline from Alberta to B.C.’s coast.

Trudeau said his government would draft legislation, which is unlikely to come for several weeks, to reaffirm federal jurisdiction over the issue.

The legislation and financial aid have the same aim “of making sure that one, that this pipeline will be built and two, that all of the investors involved know that we take this seriously and they can be confident it will go through,” said a source close to the government.

Kinder Morgan Canada’s shares rose in early trading and then dipped to C$17.17 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, down 8 Canadian cents. The energy sector as a whole was also slightly down as oil prices slipped. [.TO]

Twenty-eight Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters who have been arrested for civil contempt at the company’s Burnaby Mountain facilities were due to appear in court on Monday.

More than 170 people, including federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, have been arrested since mid-March for violating a civil injunction obtained by Kinder Morgan.

“We continue to regard the calculus as fraught, and believe the failure to resolve legal challenges make the actual construction of (the Trans Mountain expansion)difficult – even with federal government intervention,” Credit Suisse analysts said in a research note on Monday.

Oil producers and the Alberta government are desperate for the pipeline to go ahead, as rising production has outstripped existing pipeline capacity, leading to a widening of the normal differential between Western Canadian oil prices and the U.S. benchmark.


($1 = 1.2576 Canadian dollars)

Additional reporting by Andrea Hopkins in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio


Oil steady, near three-year highs on Syria tensions, tighter supply

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices held steady on Thursday, remaining close to highs last reached in late 2014 on tensions over Syria and shrinking global oil inventories.

Brent crude futures settled at $72.02 a barrel, down 4 cents. U.S. WTI crude futures were up 25 cents at $67.07. Prices for both climbed in post-settlement trading.

“We’re pretty much holding steady on yesterday’s gains ... and it does look like there’s further upside ahead,” said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst at United-ICAP. “People are still nervous about what’s going to happen in Syria ... nothing was solved overnight.”

Oil prices jumped on Wednesday to their highest level since late 2014 after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh and U.S. President Donald Trump warned of military action in Syria, both of which raised concerns about possible supply disruptions.

Some fundamental signals also supported prices. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said the global oil stocks surplus was close to evaporating due to healthy demand and its own supply cuts.


The group is producing oil below its targets, meaning the world needs to use stocks to meet rising demand. OPEC said in its monthly report oil stocks in the developed world fell by 17.4 million barrels in February to 2.854 billion barrels, around 43 million barrels above the latest five-year average.

OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told Reuters in New Delhi the global oil glut had effectively shrunk by nine-tenths since the start of 2017.

“We have seen an accelerated shrinkage of stocks in storage from unparalleled highs of about 400 million barrels to about 43 million above the five-year average,” Barkindo said.

OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers began trimming supply in January 2017. Their pact runs until the end of the year and OPEC meets in June to decide on its next course of action.

“There is growing confidence that the declaration of cooperation will be extended beyond 2018,” Barkindo told Reuters. “Russia will continue to play a leading role.”

These bullish factors more than offset pressure from a U.S. government report showing crude oil inventories rose by 3.3 million barrels, while production hit a record 10.53 million barrels per day (bpd).

Still, analysts were waiting for further fundamental signals. “This all depends on whether demand will be as strong as it is projected to be,” said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition in Stamford.


CANADA FX DEBT-C$ posts seven-week high as oil rallies on Syria tensions

(Adds strategist quotes, details throughout on market activity; updates prices) * Canadian dollar at C$1.2571, or 79.55 U.S. cents * Loonie touches its strongest since Feb. 19 at C$1.2545 * Price of U.S. crude oil rises 2 percent * Bond prices fall across the yield curve By Fergal Smith TORONTO, April 11 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to a seven-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday as rising geopolitical tensions boosted the price of oil to its highest level in more than three years. Oil, one of Canada's major exports, climbed after Saudi Arabia said it intercepted missiles over Riyadh and U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria. U.S. crude oil futures settled 2 percent higher at $66.82 a barrel. "It all adds up to a pretty positive picture on the loonie," said Ranko Berich, head of market analysis at Monex Canada and Monex Europe. In addition to higher oil prices, the potential for further Bank of Canada interest rate hikes later this year has also been supportive of the loonie, Berich said. The central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate three times since July to 1.25 percent. Money markets see two more rate hikes this year. At 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.2 percent higher at C$1.2571 to the greenback, or 79.55 U.S. cents. The currency, which has benefited recently from increased optimism over a deal to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, touched its strongest level since Feb. 19 at C$1.2545. Gains for the loonie have come after data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed on Friday that speculators have raised bearish bets on the currency to the highest since July. "Looking at the price action it's quite possible some of those shorts got shaken out pretty quickly," Berich said. Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield curve, with the two-year down 10 Canadian cents to yield 1.853 percent and the 10-year falling 46 Canadian cents to yield 2.201 percent. The gap between the 10-year yield and its U.S. equivalent narrowed by 8.1 basis points to a spread of -57.5 basis points, its narrowest since Feb. 20, as Treasuries were boosted by demand for safe-haven assets. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Sandra Maler)


Trans Mountain or Not, Alberta Has Some Oil Shipping Alternatives

  • Enbridge, TransCanada lines could open 1 million barrels a day
  • Producers may turn to rail or invest in new technologies

If Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd. decides to shelve its now-stalled Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, oil sands producers will have to get creative about moving their crude.

The line would open up 590,000 barrels a day of new capacity to Vancouver. Without it, producers are left with two main alternatives: TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline and Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 expansion to Superior, Wisconsin. Neither is a silver bullet for Canada’s growing supply glut. 

The two projects would allow Canada to export more than a million additional barrels a day combined, which is “plenty of new capacity for growth” through 2023, according Mike Walls, a Genscape Inc. analyst. But production growth could surpass pipeline capacity again by the mid 2020s, according to Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers’ projections. And, unlike Trans Mountain, neither line offers access to coveted Asian markets

Here are a few other possibilities producers might want to consider:


Rail Revolution

Uncertainty surrounding the fate of Trans Mountain may encourage Canadian oil producers to sign long-term commitments to ship crude by rail, Kevin Birn, a director at IHS Energy in Calgary, said by phone. That could reduce inventories and improve the price.

The pipeline bottleneck that emerged late last year sent Canadian heavy oil prices to their lowest level in more than four years, relative to WTI futures. Prices improved somewhat as train shipments rose but rail companies including Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. have expressed a reluctance to add crude-by-rail capacity until oil companies commit to shipping set volumes for the long term.

Get More Efficient

Enbridge, operator of the biggest oil export pipeline network in Canada, said last year that it could add 500,000 barrels a day over several years to its pipeline system with “low cost” expansions that require “minimal permitting.”

The company already seeks to add 175,000 barrels a day to its Mainline system by next year by using drag-reducing additives and replacing North Dakota barrels with Canadian crude. Further capacity expansions could be achieved through upgrading machinery and restoring full capacity to its Line 4.


New technologies are emerging that could make transporting crude easier. Last month, Alberta’s government pledged C$1 billion to support the construction of partial upgraders that would lighten oil-sands bitumen just enough so it flows through pipelines without adding diluent. Diluent, typically light condensate or synthetic crude, currently must be added to bitumen and accounts for about a third of the volumes that are shipped. 

Another new idea: Turn bitumen into solid pellets so it can be transported via ordinary rail cars and shipped on vessels. The rail company Canadian National announced in December that Calgary-based Toyo Engineering Canada Ltd. has been selected to design and build a pilot project to produce the so-called CanaPuxTM pellets. Such a solution may allow producers to get around a ban on tankers in the waters of northern British Columbia and ship crude out of the port of Kitimat, avoiding Vancouver.

Other Pipeline Options

Enbridge’s acquisition of Spectra Energy Corp. last year gave the company control of the Express Pipeline, a 280,000 barrel a day line running from Hardisty, Alberta, to Casper, Wyoming, where it connects with the Platte pipeline that runs to Wood River, Illinois. Expansion of the Express line is one of the “potential commercial synergies” the company is considering. Another possibility is reversing the Southern Lights pipeline that currently transports light diluent from Illinois to Alberta.

CANADA FX DEBT-C$ posts 6-week high on business optimism, oil rally

* Canadian dollar at C$1.2710, or 78.68 U.S. cents
* Loonie touches strongest since Feb. 27 at C$1.2687
* Oil price rises 2.2 percent
* Bond prices mixed across the yield curve
By Fergal Smith TORONTO, April 9 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened to a nearly six-week high against its U.S. counterpart on Monday, boosted by higher oil prices and a business survey from the Bank of Canada that supported expectations for further interest rate hikes. Canadian companies remain optimistic about sales growth despite trade uncertainties, the central bank said in the first-quarter report. The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates three times since July. Chances of another hike by July edged up to nearly 80 percent from 72 percent before the report, the overnight index swaps market indicated. "The business outlook survey was fairly friendly to the Canadian dollar," said Greg Anderson, global head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets. "The other piece of the puzzle is oil prices ... and the recovery in the WCS (Western Canadian Select) spot price continues." The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, was supported by a rebound in the stock market as concerns of a trade war between the United States and China eased. U.S. crude oil futures settled 2.2 percent higher at $63.42 a barrel. Canadian crude tends to trade at a discount to U.S. crude, due, in part, to supply constraints. But the gap has plunged by more than $13 since March, data from Shorcan Energy showed. Business groups and local officials called for Canada's government to guarantee that an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline is completed, after operator Kinder Morgan Canada halted most work on the C$7.4 billion project. At 4 p.m. (2000 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.6 percent higher at C$1.2710 to the greenback, or 78.68 U.S. cents. The currency touched its strongest level since Feb. 27 at C$1.2687. Last week, stronger-than-expected domestic jobs data and upbeat comments by officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada about the chances of a deal soon to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement helped boost the loonie by 0.9 percent. Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States. Still, talks to rework NAFTA are not advanced enough for the three countries to announce a deal "in principle" at this month's Summit of the Americas in Lima, according to two people familiar with the matter. Canadian government bond prices were mixed across the yield curve, with the two-year down 0.5 Canadian cent to yield 1.794 percent and the 10-year rising 3 Canadian cents to yield 2.14 percent. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Peter Cooney)


Oil falls on Trump's latest China trade threats

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell about 2 percent on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China, reigniting fears of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies that could hurt global growth.

Trump said on Thursday he had ordered U.S. trade officials to consider tariffs on an extra $100 billion of imports from China, escalating tensions with Beijing.

China warned on Friday it was fully prepared to respond with a “fierce counter strike” of fresh trade measures if the United States follows through on Trump’s threat.

“The heightened possibility of an outright tariff war is conjuring up images of slowed economic growth that could curtail the strong oil demand that has helped to revive a strong pricing environment during the past couple of months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said in a note.


Brent crude LCOc1 futures settled down $1.22 at $67.11 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 futures fell $1.48 to $62.06 a barrel, a 2.3 percent loss.

Brent crude dropped 2.8 percent in the week while U.S. crude fell 4.4 percent, the biggest weekly decline since early February.

U.S. stock indexes also fell on trade war jitters, which weighed on oil prices. Crude futures have recently tracked with equities.

OPEC member Libya’s oil output is at around 1.05 million barrels per day despite a continuing outage since February at its 70,000 bpd El Feel oilfield, a Libyan oil source told Reuters on Friday.

U.S. drillers added 11 oil rigs in the week to April 6, bringing the total count up to 808, the highest level since March 2015, General Electric Co’s (GE.N) Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday.

The Permian basin in Texas is leading the way as U.S. oil production has reached an all-time high, but the prolific output is causing bottlenecks as pipelines transporting the crude have filled up more quickly than expected, depressing prices in the region.

Some market participants are still optimistic on the oil sector.

“We’re cautiously bullish here,” said Dan Hussey, a market strategist at RJO Futures in Chicago. “It’s the fundamentals.”

U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly fell last week, data showed on Wednesday.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that an arrangement under which Moscow cooperates with the OPEC oil group could become indefinite once a current deal to curb oil production expires at the end of the year.


The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other large oil producers led by Russia have agreed to curtail their combined output by around 1.8 million barrels per day until the end of 2018 to smooth out bloated oil inventories.

OPEC and its allies should keep the cuts to ensure healthy price levels as a way to boost investment in the industry and avoid a supply and price shock in the long run, Qatar’s energy minister said.

Asian oil traders are stumped by how Saudi Arabia derived its official selling prices (OSP) for May after the world’s top oil exporter unexpectedly raised the price for its flagship Arab Light crude sold to Asian refiners.

Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla in London, Jane Chung in Seoul and Koustav Samanta in Singapore; Editing by Will Dunham and Tom Brown



Oil down slightly; U.S. inventory draw offsets trade war fears

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices settled slightly lower on Wednesday, as a surprise draw in U.S. crude stockpiles triggered a rebound from session lows hit after China proposed a broad range of tariffs on U.S. exports that fed fears of a trade war.

Both Brent and U.S. crude slid to two-week lows after China, the world’s largest importer of raw materials, hit back at the Trump administration’s plan to levy tariffs on $50 billion of its goods, proposing duties on a broad range of U.S. imports.

Brent hit a session low of $66.69 and U.S. crude slumped as low as $62.06.

“I have high confidence that it will stagnate economic growth,” said Michael McAllister, exploration and production equity analyst at MUFG in New York.

 “It would be negative for pricing,” he added.

But by the end of the session, Brent crude futures lost just 10 cents to settle at $68.02 a barrel, a 0.15 percent loss. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 14 cents to settle at $63.37 a barrel, off 0.22 percent.

Prices pared losses after the Energy Information Administration released data showing U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.6 million barrels in the latest week. Analysts had expected an increase of 246,000 barrels.

The drop in inventories came as refinery crude runs rose by 141,000 barrels per day, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates rose by 0.7 percentage point.

Prices were also helped by a turnaround in the U.S. stock market. Oil prices have recently closely tracked equities.

“Supported by a 4.617 million barrel weekly crude oil draw across the U.S., a solid upturn in equities encouraged buyers in WTI,” said Anthony Headrick, energy market analyst and commodity futures broker at CHS Hedging LLC in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

“Yet, a 3.666 million barrel build at the Cushing, OK storage hub provided enough weight for a negative settlement.”

A deal by OPEC and non-OPEC producers to get rid of excess supply has also supported prices. OPEC oil output fell in March to an 11-month low due to declining Angolan exports, Libyan outages and a further slide in Venezuelan output, a Reuters survey found, sending compliance with a supply-cutting deal to another record.

Additional reporting by Amanda Cooper in London and Koustav Samanta in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio


CANADA FX DEBT-C$ dips with oil as investors weigh trade talks

* Canadian dollar at C$1.2917, or 77.42 U.S. cents
* Oil prices fall 0.6 percent
* Bond prices lower across the yield curve
TORONTO, March 26 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar edged lower against its U.S. counterpart on Monday as oil prices dipped, with the loonie unable to build on last week's gains even as fear of a global trade war lessened. Global stocks came off six-week lows on optimism that the United States and China are set to begin trade talks. Canada's commodity-linked economy could be hurt if global trade slowed. The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, pulled back from an earlier two-month high. U.S. crude prices, which had been supported by escalating Saudi-Iran tensions, were down 0.6 percent at $65.5 a barrel. At 9:26 a.m. EST (1326 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.2 percent lower at C$1.2917 to the greenback, or 77.42 U.S. cents. The currency traded in a range of C$1.2841 to C$1.2922. On Friday, the currency touched its strongest since March 12 at C$1.2824 after hotter-than-expected domestic inflation data raised prospects of a further Bank of Canada interest rate hike as soon as next month. The loonie has also benefited recently from optimism about a deal to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement. It rose 1.6 percent last week. Speculators have raised bullish bets on the Canadian dollar for the first time in six weeks, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Reuters calculations showed on Friday. As of March 20, net long positions had increased to 24,560 contracts from 19,420 a week earlier. Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield curve, with the two-year down 3 Canadian cents to yield 1.869 percent and the 10-year falling 11 Canadian cents to yield 2.207 percent. Canada's gross domestic product data for January is due on Thursday. (Reporting by Fergal Smith Editing by Susan Thomas)


Canadian dollar notches biggest gain in four months amid NAFTA optimism

TORONTO (Reuters) - The loonie posted its biggest gain against the U.S. dollar in nearly four months on Wednesday, buoyed by optimism about a NAFTA trade deal and higher oil prices, while the greenback broadly fell even as the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates. 

The U.S. dollar .DXY extended its decline against a basket of major currencies after Fed policy-makers signaled they expected three interest rate increases for 2018, fewer than the four some traders had anticipated.


“The Canadian dollar is strengthening in tandem with all the G10 currencies in a weak U.S. dollar environment,” said Eric Theoret, currency strategist at Scotiabank.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he remained optimistic Canada would get a good deal at North American Free Trade Agreement modernization talks amid signs negotiators could be closer to settling one of the trade pact’s most contentious issues.


Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper said the U.S. side had dropped its insistence that all autos made in NAFTA nations should have 50 percent U.S. content.

“It does remove some source of uncertainty,” said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at Credit Suisse in New York. “It’s still too early for the BoC to meaningfully change its view on this front.”

The Bank of Canada has been worrying that uncertainty over the future of NAFTA may weigh on the economy.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 2.6 percent higher at $65.17 a barrel after a surprise decline in U.S. inventories and as concern persisted over possible disruption to Middle East supply.

Oil is one of Canada’s major exports.

At 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading at C$1.2901 to the greenback, or 77.51 U.S. cents, up 1.3 percent in its largest advance since Dec. 1.

The currency touched its strongest level since March 13 at C$1.2890.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield curve, with the two-year CA2YT=RR down 7.5 Canadian cents to yield 1.867 percent and the 10-year CA10YT=RR falling 33 Canadian cents to yield 2.255 percent.

The 2-year yield touched its highest intraday since June 2011 at 1.909 percent.

Bank of Canada Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins will deliver a speech on Thursday, while domestic inflation data for February is due on Friday.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler



Canadian dollar holds ground vs. stronger greenback ahead of Fed decision

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar steadied against its broadly stronger U.S. counterpart on Tuesday as oil prices rose and domestic data showed an increase in wholesale trade, while investors braced for a potential Federal Reserve interest rate hike on Wednesday.

At 4 p.m. ET (2100 GMT), the Canadian dollar CAD=D4 was trading nearly unchanged at C$1.3083 to the greenback, or 76.44 U.S. cents. The currency traded in a narrow range of C$1.3053 to C$1.3102.


“I think this market is just waiting for the Fed,” said Amo Sahota, director at Klarity FX in San Francisco.

The U.S. dollar .DXY rose against a basket of major currencies as investors awaited clues from the Fed on its outlook for the U.S. economy.

Canadian wholesale trade edged up 0.1 percent in January as higher sales in the food and machinery and equipment sectors offset declines in the building material and vehicle industries. Analysts had forecast no change in wholesale trade.

The price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, rose on tension in the Middle East and the possibility of further falls in Venezuelan output.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled 2.2 percent higher at $63.40 a barrel.

On Monday, the Canadian dollar hit its weakest intraday level in nearly nine months at C$1.3124, which may have surprised some market participants. A Reuters poll this month had shown that the loonie is forecast to rally over the coming year.

“A few rule books are being rewritten here,” Sahota said. “The blame is largely being put on trade, NAFTA negotiations and also a much more neutral Bank of Canada at this point.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico if he cannot rework it in favor of the United States.

The Bank of Canada has been worrying that trade policy uncertainty may weigh on the country’s economy. Comments last week from Governor Stephen Poloz have reinforced expectations the central bank can take its time raising rates after hiking them three times since last July.

Bank of Canada Senior Deputy Governor Carolyn Wilkins will deliver a speech on Thursday, while domestic inflation data for February is due on Friday.

Canadian government bond prices were lower across the yield curve in sympathy with U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year CA10YT=RR declined 29 Canadian cents to yield 2.205 percent.

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Bill Trott and Sandra Maler


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