U.S. jet fuel output rises to pre-COVID levels as demand soars

By Shariq Khan and Seher Dareen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. refiners pumped out jet fuel last week at the fastest pace since the pandemic, government data showed, as they look to keep up with forecasts of record air travel this summer.

U.S. refiners’ net production of jet fuel hit about 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, 8% higher than the same time last year and the highest weekly total since January 2020, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Thursday.

Government agencies and travel groups are preparing for a record number of passengers at airports through the summer, lifting jet fuel consumption above its pre-pandemic peak for the first time. Motorist group AAA expects a record 5.74 million people to fly to their destinations around the July 4 holiday.

Global jet fuel demand has now surpassed its pre-pandemic levels for the first time, according to a JPMorgan analysis published on Thursday.

U.S. four-week average jet fuel demand of 1.75 million bpd over the last week was also the highest for this time since 2019, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

Higher refinery output should help keep the market supplied well enough to match the anticipated surge in demand over the holidays, said Matias Togni, founder at energy research firm Galpon Shipping & Trading.

U.S. refiners have added over 2 million barrels of jet fuel to stockpiles since the start of the year. That brought inventories to 41.95 million barrels by June 14, 2% higher than last year and in line with the past five years’ seasonal average.

Domestic airfares around the July 4 holiday are 2% lower than last year, AAA noted, even as the flight tracker Airportia showed total U.S. flights are up 1% from last year.

Airportia tracked 30,264 U.S. flights on Thursday, a 7.2% increase from the same time last year.

(Reporting by Shariq Khan in New York and Seher Dareen in Bengaluru; Editing by Kevin Liffey)