Methyl tertiary butyl ether Prices, markets & analysis
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Methyl tertiary butyl ether Overview Transcript
Methyl tertiary butyl ether MTBE is a gasoline octane booster. Although MTBE was banned in the United States, China imports a lot of MTBE because it is the world’s number one automarket.
Singapore, which is Asia’s oil trading hub, is also a big MTBE consumer, due to blending demand.
Singapore exports finished gasoline products to Indonesia which is Asia’s biggest gasoline buyer and then Vietnam. Asia also receives MTBE from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
When the arbitrage economics work, southeast Asia MTBE producers sell the product to China. Besides China, Taiwan and South Korea also import MTBE on a regular basis.
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Methyl tertiary butyl ether: Market overview
China’s domestic production of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) has risen significantly in recent years, thanks to a new technology that may see the country turn into a net exporter of the material by 2015.
By the end of 2015, China’s MTBE production is forecast to grow to 7.4m tonnes, up by 32% from a projected 5.6m tonnes this year, according to data from C1 Energy, an ICIS service in China.
Rising domestic production has seen China becoming less reliant on imports of the material. In 2012, the share of imports to China’s overall MTBE consumption declined to 2.6%, from 11% in the previous year, and from 15% in 2010, C1 data showed.
The country’s MTBE consumption is estimated to reach 7.3m tonnes by 2015, up from 5.8m tonnes this year.
MTBE demand in Europe improved during the summer, however, it is expected to tail off again during the autumn, with the switch to winter-grade gasoline impending.
Following a ban issued in 2005, all MTBE produced in the US continues to be exported, mostly to Latin America, especially Venezuela, Mexico and Chile.
Updated to mid-August 2013
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About Methyl tertiary butyl ether
Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is a colourless, flammable liquid with a characteristic ether odour. It is soluble in water, alcohol and ether and unstable in acidic solutions. MTBE is highly flammable and can form peroxides on storage.
Around 95% of MTBE produced has been used as an octane booster and as a oxygenate in gasoline. One of its major advantages is its good blending properties and for increasing the octane levels of lead-free gasoline.
MTBE can also be used to make high-purity isobutylene, which can be further processed to make butyl rubber, highly reactive polyisobutylene, methyl methacrylate (MMA) and other smaller derivatives.
MTBE is also used as a solvent and extractant.