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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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Updated to Q3 2016
US MTBE prices were slightly firmer during Q3, climbing through August but trending slightly lower during September.
MTBE demand tends to be stronger during the northern hemisphere summer as it is used as an octane booster in summer fuels. In winter, fuel blenders can use cheaper octane boosters like butane.
MTBE exports and production, which had been strong leading into the summer months, began to fall off in June, according to the most recent statistics.
One MTBE producer reported a short shutdown due to a power outage during Q3.
MTBE was phased out as a gasoline additive in the US several years ago. However, markets remain abroad for US-produced material, most notably in Mexico and countries in South America.
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