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Updated to Q3 2018
The methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) market was generally oversupplied this summer as exports from the Middle East competed with domestic material and production was reasonably increased with summer demand expectations. Supply adjusted fairly quickly to rebalance the situation, with some brief moments of tightness and strong Mediterranean demand. The market also tightened in late September, with fewer volumes available on spot due to low liquidity, and as demand also took a late summer surge.
Demand was lower over the summer than in other years, according to most sources. But the need for MTBE rebounded at the end of the third quarter after competition with Middle Eastern imports and other oxygenates petered out. Lower demand was also reflected in the factor year on year. Demand for ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) to meet mandates could also have affected MTBE consumption. The late September demand surprised some participants suppliers switch to winter fuel blends.
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