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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 Q4 2015
US Gulf (USG) methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) spot prices fell in the fourth quarter to lows not seen since January despite a market that tightened up in December.
In the fourth quarter, Enterprise Products performed a short maintenance on its MTBE-producing unit in Mont Belvieu, Texas.
Huntsman also had a short outage during the quarter. In November there was a short power disruption to the company’s Port Neches, Texas, site.
During the quarter, the US premium to Europe MTBE rose from 10 cents/gal to 15 cents/gal as market players described an environment full of demand and void of extra product.
The Europe MTBE market, which the US market is based upon, is seeing a typical winter slowdown in demand. The US markets, however, do not see the same slowdown, as most of the export destinations do not experience harsh winter weather.
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. Four producers remain in the US.
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