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 Q1 2015
European methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) prices will be primarily influenced by gasoline, and therefore crude oil, prices over the coming months, and so appear set to remain low. The MTBE factor against EuroBob gasoline, a measure of MTBE’s value relative to gasoline, of which it is a constituent part, dropped sharply at the start of 2015 and market opinion is split over whether it will rebound. Demand has been described as stronger than expected, but this comes during the slow winter season for MTBE consumption, and actually, demand levels remain to be seen.
The Asia market for spot MTBE is likely to remain bearish on the back of sufficient supply and dwindling demand because of the winter season in the northern hemisphere, with no driving season to occur in southeast Asia as well. There are some expectations that restocking activities could happen after the long Lunar New Year holiday, but an upward pressure is unlikely to be seen. Premiums in the Singapore market could hover between $10/tonne and $15/tonne on a CFR Singapore basis to FOB Singapore quotes, with supply fundamentals bearish for the first quarter, even though a key Middle East producer will go into a turnaround in February-March.
The direction of the US Gulf MTBE market will depend largely on what happens in Europe, since US product is assessed on a formula based on the Europe MTBE price.
There have been no reports of major plant issues or maintenance for the five plants that remain in the US. However, demand for MTBE will be affected by weak energy prices, which include crude oil and gasoline.
MTBE is primarily used to blend into gasoline.
If global demand for those products remain high, then the need for MTBE will be increased and vice versa.
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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.