MTBE is a chemical compound that is manufactured by the chemical reaction of methanol and isobutylene. MTBE is produced in very large quantities (over 200,000 barrels per day in the U.S. in 1999) and is almost exclusively used as a fuel additive in motor gasoline. It is one of a group of chemicals commonly known as "oxygenates" because they raise the oxygen content of gasoline. At room temperature, MTBE is a volatile, flammable and colorless liquid that dissolves rather easily in water.
Exports more than halved from 393,000 metric tons (mt) in 2007 to 180,000 mt in 2012. Over the same period, production rose from 693,000 mt to 868,000 mt.
Consumption will rise, "as the car fleet and the share of high octane gasoline increases," said Stanislav Gatunok, the head of Creon Energy's hydrocarbons department.
Russia's car fleet totaled 37.4 million vehicles in 2012 and is expected to increase to 55 million vehicles in 2021, Gatunok said.
Gasoline consumption is set to increase to 48.2 million mt by the end of the decade, from 38.2 million mt currently, with high-octane gasoline already accounting for more than 90% of that total, he said.
Exports follow the seasonal domestic demand patterns in Russia, whereby consumption rises "during the summer," he added.
As a result, exports dwindle in the summer months, when imports become necessary to cover shortfalls.
Meanwhile, the Russian oxygenates market, of which MTBE has a majority share, is expected to see shortages come 2014-2015, when a host of new refinery units will come online, and around 2021, said Gatunok. (April 2, 2013)