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MTBE price index

This post is a summary of the MTBE price developments. The price developments of MTBE are expressed in US$ prices converted FX rates applicable at the time when the price was valid. MTBE price index developments are calculated from multiple separate sources of data to ensure statistical accuracy.

The outlook for MTBE prices, on the second tab, is generated from different inputs including:

  • Very recent price developments of immediate cost drivers of MTBE prices
  • Recent price developments of underlying feedstocks which drive the price of MTBE
  • Market futures for both cost drives and feedstocks of MTBE prices
  • Adjustment of current supply/demand imbalances in the MTBE market
  • Longer term trends in likely demand conditions

Further information on the MTBE price index

 

What is MTBE

Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) is a chemical compound with the formula CH3OC(CH3)3. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a sweet, gasoline-like odor. MTBE is primarily used as an oxygenate in gasoline, meaning it is added to gasoline to increase the oxygen content and improve the fuel’s octane rating. This helps to reduce the formation of harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides when the fuel is burned.

MTBE has been used as an oxygenate in gasoline in the United States and other countries since the late 1970s. However, it has come under scrutiny in recent years due to concerns about its potential environmental impacts. MTBE has been found to contaminate groundwater when it leaks from underground storage tanks or is released into the environment through spills or other accidental releases. As a result, many states in the United States have banned the use of MTBE in gasoline, and it has been phased out in favor of ethanol and other oxygenates.

 

How is MTBE produced

MTBE is produced by the reaction of methanol and isobutylene, which are both derived from natural gas or petroleum. It is typically added to gasoline in small amounts, usually at a concentration of about 10-15%. MTBE has a higher octane rating than ethanol, which is another common oxygenate used in gasoline, and it is more stable and less corrosive than ethanol. However, MTBE has a higher vapor pressure than ethanol, which can lead to increased evaporative emissions.

 

What is MTBE used for

Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) is primarily used as an oxygenate in gasoline. Oxygenates are compounds that are added to gasoline to increase the oxygen content and improve the fuel’s octane rating. This helps to reduce the formation of harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides when the fuel is burned. MTBE is typically added to gasoline in small amounts, usually at a concentration of about 10-15%.

In addition to its use as an oxygenate in gasoline, MTBE has a number of other applications. It is used as a solvent in the production of resins, rubber, and pharmaceuticals, and it is also used as a feedstock for the production of other chemicals such as isobutylene. MTBE is also used as a denaturant for ethanol, which is added to ethanol to make it unfit for human consumption and therefore subject to lower taxes.

 

MTBE market size

It is difficult to quantify the size of the MTBE market with precision, as it depends on various factors such as global demand for gasoline and other products that contain MTBE, the availability and price of raw materials, and regional differences in production and consumption. However, MTBE is a widely used chemical, and the market for this compound is likely to be quite large.

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global MTBE market was valued at around $4.2 billion in 2020, and it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.4% between 2021 and 2026. The report notes that the increasing demand for gasoline, especially in developing countries, is a major driver of the market growth. Other factors contributing to the growth of the MTBE market include the increasing use of MTBE as a feedstock for the production of other chemicals and the growing demand for MTBE as a denaturant for ethanol.

 

Further reading

 

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Notes on the price-data

  • We aim to update the data series on the 11th and 25th of each month (but we do not always make it for each chart)
  • The data for the current month and recent history are fine-tuned over time.
  • We are continually improving our data collection and processing methods and data will be updated from time to time as we improve the accuracy
  • We are working hard to upgrade the algorithm before April 1, 2023 and a further fine-tune by July 1, 2023
  • This the index trend of the price of the product group in general and not a single specification in particular
  • The source of the data are exclusively public non-confidential sources
  • We combine public publications, import/export records, company announcements, and sources of ad-hoc public information.
  • The chart shows the price trend,  nearly always taken from many statistically-correlated sources 
  • The data is presented in US$. The UOM of measure is shown in the Index list table
  • We do our best to create an accurate representation of the trend
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  • The information is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, fitness for purpose or timeliness.
  • By their nature, outlooks are always uncertain
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