Ethyl tertiary butyl ether Prices, markets & analysis
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Ethyl tertiary butyl ether Overview Transcript
Ethyl tertiary butyl ether, or ETBE is a gasoline blending agent made from bioethanol. It increases the oxygenate level and improves the quality of gases.
It performs a similar role to traditional gasoline components such as MTBE but has added value because it is a biofuel.
EU mandated renewable fuel targets mean that biofuels in Europe command a premium over regular fuel equivalents and ETBE is traded on a premium over MTBE because of that.
The European ETBE market is subject to seasonal variations in demand, similar to those in the gasoline markets and can also be subject to fluctuations in supply. This is because, in addition to European production, the market relies on imports from South America.
The price of ETBE, while being largely determined by that of MTBE, is also influenced by supply and demand fundamentals, as well as the price of feedstock bioethanol, which is itself subject to a high degree of variability. It’s an unpredictable market.
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Ethyl tertiary butyl ether: Market overview
The European ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) market has seen persistently low spot activity, which continues to remain poor despite the onset of the traditional summer high season for gasoline-related products.
The delayed onset of warmer weather throughout much of Europe continues to influence gasoline demand, which is having a knock-on effect on demand for blending components.
The underlying base level of demand, which results from EU-mandated renewable fuel targets, is ever present, and producers continue to report good offtake from contractual customers.
However, additional consumption remains poor. Decreasing prices for European methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), on which ETBE prices are based, have had no noticeable impact on ETBE demand.
Despite lower prices, MTBE production economics remain good, and ether producers have often opted to make MTBE at the expense of ETBE, in light of superior netbacks available. Ethanol, a feedstock of ETBE, has been at relatively high price levels of late, whereas methanol, from which MTBE is produced, remains much lower in cost.
Updated to mid-May 2013
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About Ethyl tertiary butyl ether
Ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) is an oxygenated fuel that can be blended with gasoline to make it burn more cleanly. ETBE is produced from ethanol and isobutylene. It is used for octane improvement and motor fuel volatility control.
ETBE is clear in appearance and although virtually colourless it does have a slight yellow appearance and a strong odour. In addition, the fuel is highly flammable.
The ETBE and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) processes are similar, and a number of MTBE units in Europe have been converted to use ethanol feedstock for ETBE production in order to meet biofuels targets.