Ether-based oxyfuels, like methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE), can be defined as octane boosters or Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) reducers used as green blending components and additives in motor vehicle fuels.
ETBE has a number of benefits over MTBE and ethanol with respect to some specs (lower RVP, higher octane index, etc.), better environmental friendliness and enhanced functionality. Therefore, ETBE is often sold with a premium over MTBE.
However, both products demonstrate a high level of volatility with regards to their prices (both products are sold via cost-based sales agreements and in the spot market), imports/exports and other market conditions. This volatility is driven by multiple factors. Feedstock and intermediate product prices and their production costs are of key significance for the ETBE market. ETBE is usually produced by reacting C4 stream hydrocarbons containing isobutene with ethanol in presence of an ion-exchange resin catalyst with intermediate products being tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) and isobutylene. Another important factor affecting the ETBE market is a dynamic balance between demand and supply, which are always in a state of complex interaction. Facility outages are vital too, like the one that occurred at LyondellBasell’s Channelview complex in Texas in late 2016.
It is worthwhile to stress here that LyondellBasell is the largest producer of oxyfuels worldwide.
ETBE: structure of the global production capacity by company
This company has been also a pioneer in the development of TBA-based gasoline additives. Among other ETBE market drivers, one can mention the following: seasonality (demand for ETBE is usually higher in summer due to larger fuel consumption), production capacity additions or reductions, ecological regulations and biofuel legislation (e.g. recent legislative moves to ban MTBE in some US states and areas), technology developments (e.g. catalytic distillation) and other influences.
More information on the ETBE market is available in the in-demand research report “Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE): 2017 World Market Outlook and Forecast up to 2021”.