The postponed launch of a Canadian government-owned pipeline expansion project is having a significant impact on Canada's heavy crude prices. Producers had accelerated their output in anticipation of the increased export capacity offered by the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, only to face delays. The Heavy Western Canadian Select crude's discount to West Texas Intermediate has widened to US$27.30 a barrel, the widest since December 30, as per Bloomberg data. This situation has created challenges for Canada's oil industry, with companies struggling to find adequate shipping capacity, affecting heavy crude prices.
Canada's oil producers had raised their output on the belief that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would be completed within the year, but the delay until early next year has caught them off guard. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s president, Tim McKay, revealed that their daily production had surged by 44,000 barrels over the past year. Additionally, the Canada Energy Regulator ordered Trans Mountain to halt work on an 800-meter section to address environmental issues. As a result, demand for space on alternative pipelines, particularly Enbridge Inc.'s Mainline system, has surged, forcing Enbridge to implement apportionment.
The delays in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project have not gone unnoticed in the Forex market. Forex and crypto traders are closely monitoring the situation, as it directly affects the value of the Canadian dollar. The prolonged uncertainty around the pipeline's completion has introduced volatility to the CAD/USD pair, which has experienced fluctuations in response to the news. Traders are keenly observing developments in the oil industry as they can significantly impact the Forex market.
Trans Mountain, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government purchased in 2018 to prevent its cancellation, is expected to start operations in the second quarter. Companies will be invited to utilize the line for oil transportation after the new year. According to Drew Zieglgansberger, Cenovus Energy Inc.'s chief commercial officer, the increased capacity could halve the discount for Canadian crude, although a smooth return to normal operations may take time. This uncertainty is closely watched by Forex traders, as the Canadian dollar's performance is heavily influenced by the energy sector.
Canadian oil companies are considering new market opportunities due to the Trans Mountain expansion. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. may explore shipping lighter synthetic crude to the Pacific market through the pipeline. For Cenovus Energy Inc., the pipeline opens doors to direct sales in the Asian market. Drew Zieglgansberger stated, "We do have some intention to get into new markets" and highlighted their access to Asian markets. Forex traders are poised to respond to any shifts in the Canadian oil industry that could influence the Canadian dollar's value in international currency markets.