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 Q4 2014
Demand for European methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is set to decline heading into the fourth quarter, with the switch to winter-grade gasoline bringing lower consumption from European gasoline blenders. Spot prices should weaken as a result, as temperatures drop and drivers consume less gasoline.
Blending demand in Asia could start falling between November and December because of the traditional lull season for gasoline and this would put downward pressure on MTBE demand. However, October’s MTBE demand is likely to be stable-to-firm because of a rise in demand from both southeast and south Asia for gasoline. The upward pressure on gasoline prices in Asia are likely to increase the incentive to blend using MTBE in October as well. The import market in China, however, remains uncertain. Most buyers will not be keen to take a risk, unless the cargoes are non-dutiable with a fixed price offer.
US Gulf (USG) MTBE spot prices were extremely volatile during the third quarter. Strong gasoline prices in Europe pushed the USG MTBE spot prices to a yearly high of $3.43/gal in early June. The price plummeted in the following weeks to a quarterly low of $3.06/gal. Two weeks later, the price was back at the yearly high of $3.43/gal. It fell throughout September, landing at $3.09/gal near the end of the month. MTBE prices will likely remain depressed, along with gasoline and crude oil prices.
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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.