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DLA Energy, Air Force complete jet fuel conversion initiative expected to save millions

FORT BELVOIR, Va., 20 Nov. 2014. Defense Logistics Agency Energy, in partnership with the Air Force Petroleum Agency, have converted all U.S. Air Force bases from JP8 military-specification jet fuel to Jet A with additives commercial standard jet fuel. The intiative is expected to save the Air Force an estimated $25.5 million in fuel costs annually.    

"One of the keys to making the conversion a success was marketing our efforts to industry to drum up as much interest as possible in supplying commercial Jet A," says Kevin Ahern, DLA Energy Bulk Petroleum Products director. "We knew that we had a much wider pool of suppliers in the commercial jet [fuel] market than we had in the military specification fuel market."   

The conversion from JP8 to Jet A with additives, which began with demonstrations at four Air Force bases inNovember 2009, was completed 29 Oct. 2014 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio, ahead of the scheduled 2017 date.

Identifying suppliers and guiding them through the government procurement process was critical to the success of the initiative, Ahern adds. The fuel conversion delivers many benefits, he says, such as energy security and operational flexibility for the Department of Defense (DOD).

"We also were able to establish Basic Ordering Agreements for commercial jet fuel both domestically and overseas," Ahern says. "BOAs streamline the procurement process and allow us to quickly purchase additional commercial Jet A requirements that are not covered under long term contracts."

"Refining JP8 and moving it through the supply chain requires segregated storage, which is a contributing factor to why some suppliers opt out of getting into the military specification fuel market," Ahern continues. "Since the conversion to Jet A with additives, we have seen an increase in competition, which should continue to drive down prices."

Using commercial infrastructure combined with the potential inventory savings from shortened procurement lead times should mean continued positive results for both DOD and industry, officials say.

"The major benefit of switching to a commercial grade of jet fuel is gaining access to a larger pool of suppliers. The production of military specification fuel only amounted to 7 percent of the 23.3 billion gallons of fuel produced in the U.S annually, which severely limits competition," explains Air Force Col. Carmen Goyette, commander of the Air Force Petroleum Agency, which is co-located with DLA Energy at Fort Belvoir, Va. Competitive sourcing coupled with the removal of segregation and transportation restrictions will not only secure a better price for jet fuel, but it goes a long way toward ensuring the service's requirements are met, she adds.

DLA Energy led working groups to coordinate this complex, comprehensive effort, and lots of open dialogue and hard work went into making this a successful venture.  Senior leaders supported the working groups, providing vision and making the tough decisions required to keep the program moving forward.

As a Department of Defense combat support agency, DLA provides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The agency sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America's military forces need to operate, from food, fuel and energy, to uniforms, medical supplies, and construction and barrier equipment. DLA also supplies more than 85 percent of the military's spare parts.