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Can new upgraders solve Alberta’s differential dilemma?

The government wants to help ailing oil sands producers by funding new upgraders

To upgrade or not to upgrade is the question facing Canadian oil producers after the Alberta government committed C$1bn ($780m) in incentives to build new pre-refining facilities aimed at increasing prices for its ultra-heavy oil sands and bitumen. The crippling differentials between light and heavy oil that reduce the price Canada's crude fetches on world oil markets has long been the bane of Canada's oil sands producers. Differentials are a function of the oil sands' crude quality compared to lighter grades. The heavier the viscosity, the less it sells for. The discount for Western Canadian Select, a key price benchmark, typically averages 25-30% off the West Texas Intermediate price, bu

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