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Updated to Q1 2017
At the start of first quarter of 2017, the market in Asia remained well supplied with jet-kerosene, which was reflected in the contango structure of the forward market. Increased Chinese exports of jet-kerosene have weighed on the market. Cold winter weather in Japan and South Korea has buoyed demand for heating kerosene. Unplanned refinery outages and upcoming refinery maintenance in the second quarter could serve to tighten supply. In Europe, there is a steep contango in the ICE gasoil futures market at present and this is encouraging the storage of jet kerosene. An increase in ARA stocks has already been noted, with cargoes said to be coming in from South Korea. The barge market has been illiquid amid low water levels on the Rhine river. Water levels are expected to increase slightly in the coming weeks and it remains to be seen whether this will boost activity in the barge market. US jet fuel prices increased by about 57% in 2016, mostly following the recovery in crude oil over the course of the year. Prices will likely continue to follow crude oil in the first quarter, when demand is normally low. Exports should remain strong, maintaining healthy refiner crack spreads, which are up by 25-33% year on year.
Updated to Q1 2018
European jet fuel was in short supply during February 2018. This was down to lower imports than usual for this time of the year, after a cold spell in Asia kept product from flowing to Europe. Product tightness saw barge and cargo differentials over ICE gasoil doubling.
Demand for European jet fuel in Q1 2018 has been described as stable. Lower demand is noted at this time of the year due to low flight season which runs through the winter months until spring.
Updated to Q1 2018
Supply of jet kerosene tightened in the first quarter in Asia with shutdowns of refining capacity in the Middle East helping to remove access barrels from the market. Unscheduled refinery shutdowns in Japan from February to March also helped tighten the market particularly in northeast Asia. Good refining margins made jet production attractive to Asian refiners. The closure of the arbitrage window to the US kept Korean barrels in the region. Meanwhile China exported around 1.07m tonnes of jet kerosene in February representing a 20.1% year on year increase and a 5.4% month on month increase.
Prompt demand for jet kerosene was strong throughout most of the first quarter reflected in the backwardated structure of the forward market. Demand was buoyed by cold winter weather in Japan and Korea, which boosted demand for heating kerosene and reduced the refinery output of jet kerosene. Demand peaked in late February when physical premiums rose sharply outright prices hit highest levels since December 2014. Demand was boosted by Japanese import requirements for jet kerosene following an unplanned refinery outage. Lunar New Year air travel demand also buoyed demand in Singapore and Hong Kong with both increasing imports from mainland China. Demand declined in the latter half of March as the end of the winter heating demand season drew to a close.
Updated to Q4 2017
While jet fuel production likely slipped during the fourth quarter, refiners overall favoured diesel fuel production and resumed record distillate fuel oil production. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which hit late August and knocked out production across the US Gulf Coast for much of September, refiners rebounded and ramped up run rates in October.
The holiday season in the US, which includes Thanksgiving and Christmas, was a busy travel period for airlines. Demand for jet fuel rose, with trade groups expecting record commercial passenger numbers from mid-November to end-December.
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