Heavy crude discount inches wider in thin trade

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The Canadian heavy oil differential widened slightly compared with the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark on Friday:

* Western Canada Select (WCS) heavy blend crude for April delivery in Hardisty, Alberta, last traded at $10.00 a barrel below WTI crude futures , widening marginally from Thursday's settle of $9.95 a barrel below WTI, according to Net Energy Exchange.

* It was the last day of the monthly trade cycle, which runs from the first of each month until the day before pipeline nominations are due. One Calgary-based source said trading volumes were pretty thin.

* The weighted average for WCS this month was $10.64 per barrel below U.S. crude futures. Prices have held firm after the Alberta government eased mandatory crude oil production cuts for April, although producers are still limited to 3.66 million barrels per day.

* Last year bottlenecked crude oil pipelines and a glut of crude in storage sent Canadian heavy crude tumbling to a record discount versus U.S. barrels.

* Imperial Oil said on Friday it will delay its Aspen oil sands project because of the Alberta government curtailments.

* Light synthetic crude from the oil sands for April delivery did not trade on Friday, according to Net Energy Exchange. On Thursday it settled at $1.35 per barrel below U.S. crude.

* U.S. crude futures briefly hit a 2019 high but retreated along with benchmark Brent oil as worries about the global economy and robust U.S. production put a brake on prices. U.S. oil futures settled down 9 cents at $58.52 a barrel.

(Reporting by Nia Williams Editing by Tom Brown)

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