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June 12, 2012

Delta Air Lines plans to increase jet fuel yield at Trainer refinery

graphs of Range of U.S. jet fuel refinery yield by region and U.S. refiner production of jet fuel by region, 2011 as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Form 810, Monthly Refinery Report.
Notes: Regions defined by PADDs. Data include only refineries that produce jet fuel. Data excludes production in Hawaii and Alaska. Yield = [Jet Fuel Production / (Crude Oil + Net Unfinished Oil Inputs)] x 100. The volume-weighted average yields, or black bands in the chart, represent the annual average jet fuel refinery yields for refineries in each region for 2011.

Delta Air Lines recently purchased the Phillips 66 Trainer refinery, which is located in the Philadelphia area and had been idle since the fourth quarter of 2011. In a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulatory (8K) filing, Delta Air Lines indicated that it plans to increase Trainer's jet fuel yield to 32%, higher than was previously seen at Trainer and significantly above the average yield of jet fuel in any U.S. refining region. Delta says a capital investment of $100 million is necessary to shift the refinery's jet fuel yield. Jet fuel production and yield (see charts above) currently vary across the country.

Refinery jet fuel yields are dependent on a variety of factors including the refining equipment installed and the type of crude oil processed. Last year the average jet fuel yield for refineries in the Lower-48 states that produce jet fuel was about 11%, with the highest jet fuel yields on the West Coast. Gulf Coast refineries, however, produced the most jet fuel in the country by volume, averaging about 700 thousand barrels per day in 2011. The average yield of jet fuel by region and for the nation as a whole has not fluctuated much from year to year.

Last year a few refineries had jet fuel yields in the range that Delta has planned for Trainer, but only for a few months of the year. Maximum jet fuel yields on a monthly basis were generally in the mid- to high-20% range. The volume-weighted average jet fuel yield on the East Coast was about 12%. Production of jet fuel was lower in the first quarter of last year, which is typically refinery turn-around and maintenance season, and ramped up for the summer travel season. A trade-off exists between the amounts of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel a refinery can produce—as jet fuel yields increase, the yields of the other products decrease. In fact, in its SEC 8K filing, Delta said that Trainer's gasoline yield will decrease to 43% from previous levels.