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
Demand for methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is set to improve heading into the second quarter, with the upcoming switch to summer-grade gasoline bringing with it increased consumption from European gasoline blenders.
Spot prices should gain strength as a result, as temperatures warm up and driving activity increases in South America and Europe.
US Gulf MTBE prices are also expected to follow this trend, with spot prices calculated at a 2-cent/gal premium to European MTBE spot prices.
MTBE was outlawed as a gasoline additive in the US years ago, but markets remain overseas. There are five MTBE plants remaining in the US.
Demand for MTBE from China will pick up once gasoline inventory levels in China fall and traders are able to absorb short-term losses in terms of purchasing imported material.
Prices of cheaper blendstocks such as toluene and naphtha may decrease the percentage of MTBE used in gasoline blending in China and Singapore, though it is unlikely that there will be a full replacement.
Updated to mid-April 2014
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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.