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Despite a marked rise in U.S. air travel numbers this year compared to 2020, jet fuel inventories have climbed in recent months as refiners boosted production, while jet fuel demand is still lower than pre-pandemic levels.
Refiners in the United States have raised jet fuel production by almost 8 percent, or 102,000 barrels per day (bpd), since the first week of May, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
However, as of July 23, the combined total U.S. jet fuel inventory was 9.9 percent higher than the five-year (2016–2020) combined average due to increased jet fuel production and lower product supplied.
To compare, as of the same day, July 23, U.S. gasoline inventories were down 0.6 percent, and the combined total distillate fuel oil inventory was 6.8 percent below the five-year combined average.
Airline travel across the United States is picking up, but not at the same rate as car travel, which has led the recovery in gasoline consumption.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration screened 2,238,462 people at airport security checkpoints on Sunday, August 1, which was the highest checkpoint volume since the start of the pandemic, TSA Public Affairs spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted on Monday.
Per EIA data, as of July 23, jet fuel product supplied—used as a proxy for jet fuel demand—was 14.8 percent lower than the pre-pandemic five-year average.
As a result of lower than pre-pandemic demand but rising jet fuel production, U.S. inventories of jet fuel have risen to 44.974 million barrels of kerosene-type jet fuel for the week ending July 16, and further, to 45.053 million barrels for the week to July 23.
In addition, transportation constraints in the West Coast and the Rockies have also recently restricted supply to airports, the EIA said. These constraints, including limited pipeline or trucking capacity, would also have some—although a more limited—effect on the amount of jet fuel product supplied, the EIA added.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com