US refiners can profit from butanes by converting them to alkylate

19 March 2013 22:17  [Source: ICIS news]

SAN ANTONIO (ICIS)--US shale gas production has created an opportunity for refiners to monetise the growing abundance of cheap butanes by converting them into alkylate, a DuPont manager said on Tuesday.

Along with ethane, propane and natural gasoline or condensate, butane production has been rising in recent years as a result of massive shale gas formations.

The primary market for butanes has been as a blending agent for gasoline. However, since gasoline demand has been waning over the last few years, a substantial surplus of butanes has begun to emerge.

Eric Ye, the technical development manager for DuPont Sustainable Solutions, said exporting the extra product to emerging regions, such as South America and China, where there is a burgeoning middle class, is a short-term solution.

He made his comments to the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) annual meeting.

“The long and short of this situation is that in the US, butanes will continue to sell at price discounts larger than have historically been seen,” he said. “For US refiners this discounted butane supply can represent a profitable opportunity for a refiner with an alkylation unit.”

The meeting lasts through Tuesday.

By: Bobbie Clark
+1 713 525 2653

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