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 2021
Supply decreased in Q1 primarily due to unstable operations at key Middle Eastern plants such as Saudi Arabia’s SABIC, Qatar’s QAFAC and UAE’s ENOC. Mideast supply to Asia further reduced, with better prices seen in the west. Meanwhile, plants in southeast Asia were also operating at lower rates due to cost pressure. The high cost of LPG and naphtha feedstock and the close gap between feedstock and MTBE prices forced plants to reduce operations.
Demand increased thanks to a recovering global economy and arbitrage demand from the Americas. As COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in Europe and the US, oil consumption and prices both increased, creating bullish sentiment among Asian markets as well. In the US, a winter storm led to power blackouts in many refineries in February, causing a shortage of MTBE and gasoline. Traders had to source gasoline and MTBE from Asia.
Production was reduced, tracking lockdown-induced muted gasoline and MTBE consumption across the key Mediterranean markets. A combination of decreased-octanes consumption due to the use of winter-spec gasoline and existing inventories resulted in overall supply to run consistently at low levels. Producers with dual production capacities continued to favour MTBE over ETBE production due to relatively higher profit margins.
Extended lockdowns across Europe continued to weigh down on gasoline and MTBE demand through most of Q1. The weather-related US MTBE plant outages that occurred at the end of February resulted in export-related spot purchases of European volumes to rise to fill the US supply gap for Latin America. Domestic buying interest saw healthy recovery along the key Mediterranean markets by the end of March, as export-related purchases continued through the rest of the quarter.
US MTBE supplies continued to be shortened in Q1 after the severe February freeze that hit Texas and shuttered production. Exports overall have weakened compared to a pre-pandemic 2019 when 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 lower in Q1. 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.