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The Alberta government says it will ease its oil production curtailment program by 25,000 barrels a day in August.

The province is citing growing crude-by-rail capacity, declining oil inventory levels and improved efficiencies in export pipelines for the move.

Last week, the National Energy Board reported crude-by-rail exports in April reached 236,000 barrels a day (b/d), a 40-per-cent increase over March, but still down from the record high of 353,800 b/d in December.

The province says it is setting a production limit in August of 3.74 million b/d, versus the initial January limit of 3.56 million b/d.

The limits were imposed after discounts on Western Canadian Select bitumen-blend oil jumped to more than US$50 a barrel compared with New York-traded West Texas Intermediate. The difference is now about US$13.70 a barrel, according to oil brokerage Net Energy Exchange.

The first 10,000 b/d a company produces are exempt from production limits, meaning only 29 of more than 300 producers in Alberta are subject to the limits.

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