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.
Updated to Q1 2020
Supply decreased, with a couple of MTBE units on annual turnarounds in the Middle East in Q1. In east Asia, one southeast Asian producer conducted a turnaround from February to March while a separate northeast Asian producer conducted a turnaround from March. China started exporting spot cargoes from February in view of weak demand seen in the domestic market because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In January and February, demand was stable amid limited changes in the gasoline demand and supply fundamentals. In March, as the coronavirus started spreading in Asia, and several countries announced lockdown measures, consumption of downstream gasoline fell and blending was rendered not lucrative because of the expensive price of gasoline components.
MTBE supply remained tight at the start of the year as strikes in France hampered distribution logistics in the country, which resulted in stocks being held at the port of Marseilles. MTBE shipments were also impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, which also dented spot trades due to low blending margins caused by downward trend in Eurobob gasoline values. Producers with dual production capacities favoured MTBE over ETBE production due to higher profit margins.
Year-on-year MTBE demand in Europe increased significantly despite the winter driving season. Domestic demand in Q1 was driven by Spain, Italy and Greece. Westbound transatlantic movements from Europe to US continued to fill the supply gap caused by the November explosions in Port Neches, Texas which affected TPC and Huntsman MTBE units. Mexico remained a prolific consumer of European MTBE in the Latin American market.
US MTBE supplies were shortened early 2020 with stronger pull from Mexico and both planned and unplanned production issues leaving less material in the market for export availability. The typical export destinations, including Mexico and Latin America, were left looking to Europe to fill the supply gap. The US exists as an export market with little-to-no consumption of MTBE domestically.
Demand for US-produced MTBE, which is chiefly exported to international markets, continued to be present in Q1, which is not typically as strong for demand. MTBE is added to gasoline to boost octane levels. Mexico remains the top destination for the oxygenate, despite a national health emergency declared by the country’s government in late March. Any significant reduction in demand related to weakened gasoline usage was not seen as refineries are considered essential.
We offer the following regional Methyl tertiary butyl ether analysis and news coverage to keep you informed of factors and developments affecting prices in the Methyl tertiary butyl ether marketplace.
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Around 95% of MTBE produced is used as an octane booster and oxygenate in gasoline.
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.