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Bakken oil field barrel differential reaches all-time high

Houston — The Bakken shale crude differential in Williston, North Dakota, climbedto its highest recorded level Thursday despite a narrowed Brent-WTI spread,with Clearbrook barrels climbing to an eight-month high.

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Close to the Bakken oil fields, Williston barrels climbed 15 cents day onday to be assessed at NYMEX light sweet crude calendar-month average (WTI CMA)plus $1.75/b, on the back of a Dakota Access Pipeline trade heard and talkedrebid 5 cents lower.

This was the highest field barrel differential since S&P Global Plattsbegan assessing Bakken in Williston in April 2014.

Williston-origin Bakken for FOB transport on BNSF trains was heard tradedat NYMEX WTI CMA plus $1.95/b.

In the Midwest, Bakken crude in the Clearbrook, Minnesota, hub jumped 45cents to be assessed at NYMEX WTI CMA plus $3.30 on a trade heard at thatlevel. That was the highest Clearbrook differential since October 2017, whenMidwest refiners had increased crude runs to cover production losses from GulfCoast refineries damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

"It is getting out of hand," a Bakken source said about the crude'scontinued rise.

Bakken differentials have been rising amid Brent-WTI spreads remainingwide, making crude grades priced off of WTI more attractive to both domesticand international buyers than their Brent-linked counterparts.

Despite a narrowed Brent-WTI spread during the day, Bakken maintained itsrally. Platts assessed the front-month spread at $9.07/b, down 38 cents day onday. The spread peaked at $11.15/b last week, the widest in more than threeyears.

"I think it just shows how cheap Bakken has been," the same source said."I think people are still making money where the market currently is -- theywere just making more earlier in the week."

A second source said that the Bakken rise to new highs "seems a bitoverdone."

"I think buyers are feeling a little short on those June and Julypurchases so [they?re] covering a little," a third source said.

Bakken in the Guernsey, Wyoming, hub rose 20 cents day on day to beassessed at NYMEX WTI CMA plus 60 cents/b.

Guernsey remains the weakest among the hubs in the Midwest and theRockies, with market sources pointing to oversupply in the hub as the primarydriver, saying that crude from the Powder River Basin also goes into the hub.The hub also has a less direct route to ship barrels to the Gulf Coast throughthe Cushing, Oklahoma, hub.

Additionally, sources cited reduced capacity at HollyFrontier's 45,000b/d Wood Cross refinery in West Bountiful, Utah, as another reason for theGuernsey glut. The refinery has been running at reduced rates following a fireon March 12, and that is expected to continue at least through the secondquarter.

In the Cushing hub, Bakken Light Sweet was heard traded at NYMEX WTI CMAplus 85 cents/b, down 25 cents.

On the Gulf Coast, Bakken pipeline barrels in Nederland, Texas, was heardto have traded at NYMEX WTI CMA plus 7.55/b, 5 cents lower compared withWednesday.

--Emmanuel Belostrino, emmanuel.belostrino@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jennifer Pedrick, jennifer.pedrick@spglobal.com