The Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) markets are covered both weekly and daily by ICIS in Asia, Europe and the US. These up-to-date, reliable and informative reports provide vital, unbiased updates to those involved with the industry and allows players to make confident and informed business decisions.
The weekly reports contain spot price assessments for this gasoline blending component over the week and at close of business Friday. Market commentary gives details of deals taking place, domestic news, gasoline updates and graphs. The daily reports focus on price assessments for MTBE, gasoline and related market quotations, with an overview of the day's activity.
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Methyl tertiary butyl ether: Market overview
Updated to Q3 2017
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) prices in Asia are likely to rebound in the second quarter on expectations of an improvement in demand-supply fundamentals. Market players believe refinery turnarounds in Asia during the spring will provide a respite to gasoline oversupply, which in turn will give support to FOB Singapore prices. In addition, with the gasoline blending demand season in China due to start, there is some hope in the market that CFR China import interest will be revived.
MTBE markets in the US are expected to begin strengthening during the second quarter as fuel blenders transition to summer grades of gasoline. MTBE is primarily used as an octane component in summer fuels due to its low volatility. In winter fuels, blenders can use less expensive octane components like butane. MTBE was phased out as a gasoline additive in the US several years ago. However, overseas markets for US-produced material remain, most notably in Mexico and countries in South America.
Market players are not holding on to high hopes for the third quarter of the year because of the potentially closed arbitrage window for imports into China amid the expected start-up of Nanjing Jinling New Materials’ 742,000-tonne/year unit in China. This is against a backdrop of weaker-than-expected gasoline performance in domestic China. While the sentiment in the southeast Asian blending market is expected to remain firm until July because of shorter gasoline supply amid ongoing turnarounds, there are worries that demand in August and September may not be able to support the amount of cargoes available.
European MTBE prices are expected to closely mirror Eurobob gasoline movements in the third quarter as the summer driving season picks up. Healthy supply is expected in the third quarter with several refineries coming back online following planned and unplanned maintenances. Buying interest has been increasing steadily with the arrival of summer driving season. A peak in demand is expected to hit in July.
US MTBE prices will closely follow European values in the third quarter, as has been the pricing historical measure for the oxygenate. All production sites in the US are expected to run at normal capacity. However, with Mexico amending its fuel additive requirements to allow ethanol in its gasoline pool (outside the three largest cities), this sets up an uncertain demand situation going forward.
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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.