Western Canadian oil output still down after restoring some COVID cutbacks, CER says

CALGARY — The Canada Energy Regulator says most, but not all, western Canadian oil production has been restored after being cut because of low prices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The national agency says western Canadian oil supply had slipped by as much as 972,000 barrels per day by mid-May as demand fell due to pandemic lockdowns and global supply grew because of more output from a loose coalition of other oil-producing countries.

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CER says Western Canadian producers had brought back online about 700,000 bpd by early October, leaving cutbacks at about 270,000 bpd. In 2019, Western Canada produced an average of about 4.4 million bpd of oil.

Prices rose through the summer thanks to production cuts from OPEC-plus, a coalition that includes Russia, Mexico and Malaysia, and other producers around the world, including in the United States. At the same time, demand for crude oil grew in Canada and globally.

CER says a rebound in the price for Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend oil increased to roughly US$30 per barrel, higher than the operating costs of many western Canadian oil producers, and allowing some of their production to come back online.

It says its numbers are based on crude-by-rail exports, pipeline exports, refinery production and weekly oil storage injections and withdrawals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.

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