Europe ETBE prices fall, but firm premium encourages production

Author: Clare Pennington


LONDON (ICIS)--European ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) prices fell $18/tonne last week, tracking falling methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) values, as ETBE production rates began to increase.

The range settled at $962-1,012/tonne FOB (free on board) ARA (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp) on 26 July.

In a tighter ETBE market and with a firmer premium confirmed last week, some producers are starting to increase output.

There is also interest in selling US ethanol into the ETBE market, although it is not clear yet whether this is taking place.

Plans to open a cellulosic ethanol and electricity facility in Piedmont, Italy being developed by Eni, could see advanced ethanol blended into ETBE in future, too, but the timeline for that project is far from clear and would be likely in 2020.

Ethanol sources previously said that ETBE buyers in northern Europe, including in countries like Germany, were buying less ethanol for ETBE production due to six-year price highs, resulting in lower output for now.

This is still the case for one plant there, pending further confirmation.

But in overall supply volumes, Europe production levels could increase.

Import levels also remain low-to-average.

Some are also keeping an eye on low Rhine River levels to see if this affects supply of ethanol from Rotterdam, after levels fell in recent weeks.

Europe ETBE vs MTBE ($/tonne)

ETBE is a fuel blended with gasoline to make it burn more cleanly and thus improve overall air quality.

(Picture source: imageBROKER/Shutterstock)