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Global oil traders ramp up jet fuel exports to Europe and US

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Asia exported nearly 417,000 bpd of jet fuel to Europe and North America in April-May, nearly 32% higher than 316,000 bpd for February-March period

Global oil trading companies are ramping up jet fuel exports from Asia to Europe and the US, as widespread anti-coronavirus vaccinations and relatively lower infection rates allow commercial travel to resume faster in Western countries.

The strong demand from the West has fully drawn down surplus jet fuel stored on ships around Singapore, while refiners’ margins for the aviation fuel have nearly trebled since end-March.

Asia exported about 417,000 barrels per day (bpd) of jet fuel to Europe and North America combined in April-May, nearly 32% higher than 316,000 bpd for February-March period, according to Reuters calculations based on data from oil analytics firm Vortexa.

Jet fuel volumes in floating storage facilities have consistently stayed at zero for the past four weeks for the first time since March last year, according to data intelligence firm Kpler.

There were about 313,000 barrels of jet fuel stored in ships in early May, already 90% lower compared with the same time last year, Kpler data showed.

A pick-up in air travel in the U.S. and Europe amid falling coronavirus infection rates and possible relaxing of travel restrictions this summer, that contrasts against the weak fundamentals in Asia, is expected to support a widening of East-West jet fuel arbitrage in the near term, said Serena Huang, Asia lead analyst at Vortexa.

But the strength of the East-West arbitrage is also dependent on the inventory levels in the United States and Europe, which suggests the Asia-U.S. arbitrage would be stronger in the near term than the Asia-Europe arbitrage, analysts said.

U.S. jet stockpiles in May are on par with 2019 pre-pandemic average levels as per Energy Information Administration data, but Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp’s (ARA) jet stockpiles are still above pre-pandemic levels, analyst Huang said.

However, volumes to Europe are expected to gradually rise as further re-opening of European markets for travel in coming days is expected to stimulate demand.

I think there is scope for that jet arbitrage volume to increase as Europe starts to open up and passengers begin to fly again, said Kevin Wright, Kpler’s lead analyst for Asia Pacific.

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