AFPM '13: MTBE, PIB to drive isobutylene demand – US TPC

Source: ICIS News

2013/03/24

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS)--US-based TPC Group expects rising demand for methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and highly reactive polyisobutylene (HR PIB) to drive demand for isobutylene, the company's chief executive said on Sunday.

TPC Group plans to start up its isobutylene plant around the end of 2014, said CEO Mike McDonnell on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), held by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Association (AFPM).

The isobutylene plant will have a capacity of 650m lb/year (294,000 tonnes/year), McDonnell said, and will benefit from the advent of US shale gas as it will use isobutane as a feedstock.

About half of the isobutylene will be used to produce HR PIB while the remainder will be used for MTBE, McDonnell said.

Although the US does not blend MTBE in its gasoline pool it is still a popular blendstock in the rest of the world, he said. In fact, global growth is about 3-6%, McDonnell said.

In particular, Latin America should be a strong market for TPC Group, given its growth rates and its proximity to the US.

Meanwhile, demand for HR PIB is growing because the product is used as a feedstock for lubricants as well as diesel fuel, McDonnell said.

The AFPM conference lasts through Tuesday.