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 Q4 2020
Supply was on a downtrend due to plant economic issues and turnarounds. The prices of feedstock naphtha and butane increased as weather turned colder, causing a narrowing gap between feedstock and MTBE prices. Some plants had to reduce operating rates in areas including southeast Asia and the Middle East. Furthermore, one key plant in China was shut for maintenance in December, leading to a sharp drop in China’s gross operating rate.
Demand in southeast Asia remained weak, due to the narrow gasoline blending margin reflected by the narrow price gap between gasoline and naphtha, and depressed value of octane, reflected by the gap between 95 and 92 RON gasoline. Demand in China was firm as China continued to look for gasoline blending components while exporting gasoline finished products. Demand in Korea also improved on a production outage.
Supply remained reduced and at relatively low levels through the winter months. The region switching over to winter-spec gasoline and coronavirus-induced movement restrictions resulted in gasoline consumption faltering, which led MTBE producers to minimise output accordingly. Producers with dual production capacities continued to favour MTBE over ETBE production due to higher profit margins, even though rising methanol prices squeezed MTBE production margins through the quarter.
The resurgence of the coronavirus and the ensuing forms of lockdowns and curfews that followed largely dented gasoline and MTBE demand through Q4. Despite the waning MTBE demand, buying interest did not come to a standstill akin to the demand destruction during the first round of lockdowns. Spot transactions continued sporadically as European demand was kept afloat through buying interest stemming from the key Mediterranean region.
US MTBE supplies continued to be shortened in Q4 after an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season took down production of one major producer in the US Gulf Coast region. Exports overall have weakened compared to a pre-pandemic 2019 when those countries were taking in more product. The US exists an export market with little-to-no consumption of MTBE domestically.
Demand for US-produced MTBE, which is chiefly exported to international markets, was somewhat stable in Q4 as export destination countries continued to reopen from the pandemic in the western hemisphere. MTBE is added to gasoline to boost octane levels and is primarily exported to Mexico.
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.