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
Updated to Q2 2015
The approaching summer driving season is expected to boost methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) prices in Europe by the end of April to May, as blenders need more octane boosters, such as MTBE, ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) and toluene, to mix into their motor fuel. A first-quarter arbitrage with the US Gulf Coast – on the back of Texan turnarounds – has dropped off. There were mixed views as to whether the market was balanced-to-tight or if blenders had plenty of stocks in Rotterdam.
The US MTBE market will follow the direction of Europe values. The US saw the premium to Europe MTBE prices rise from 2 cents/gal to 5 cents/gal on the back of the US plant turnarounds. As of mid-April, three of four US plant turnarounds had been completed.
Demand is likely to keep pace up to the end of May for spot MTBE cargoes, with supply expected to be balanced to slightly long because market players are expecting more spot cargoes from deep-sea origin countries to be available. However, blending activities could come to a standstill after May because most southeast Asian countries fulfil their requirements before the Ramadan holiday in the middle of June. The May-June gasoline backwardation is likely to be sharp and this will have a downward pressure on spot MTBE prices, traders said. An increase in supply within domestic China also weighed on market sentiment further.
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Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Methodology
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.