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MTBE-Methyl tertiary butyl ether


MTBE, known as methyl tertiary butyl ether, is a product of etherification of isobutene and methanol, and is mostly used as a gasoline blending component downstream. However, MTBE can also be used as a basic raw material for chemical production, such as MTBE cracking to produce high-purity isobutene, the downstream can be extended in more than 50 directions, and is widely used in pharmaceutical intermediates, polymer materials, pesticides and dyes intermediates and other fields, so it can be said that MTBE is an important substance to take into account the oil and chemical products.

As MTBE is mostly downstream supporting for refinery gas separation unit, that is, for the refinery catalytic cracking unit by-production of propylene feed gas, after gas separation of propane and propylene, to get the mixture containing isobutene, n-butene, isobutane, n-butane, where isobutene content in 10%-15%, n-butene is in 35%-45%, and the remaining is C4 alkanes and propane and other components. Downstream into the MTBE device to produce MTBE, but also because MTBE is with the main refining unit supporting, so the current MTBE as oil blending accounted for a large proportion of the 2022 MTBE into the gasoline blending field accounted for 95% and above, the chemical production accounted for a small proportion.

According to network data, the overall scale of China’s MTBE plant at the end of 2022 exceeded more than 13 million tons, and it is also due to the huge market volume into the refined oil products, resulting in the industry for MTBE whether to include in the scope of consumption tax levy on refined oil products discussion voices endless. Due to the lack of official clarification from the government, MTBE has never been considered as a product subject to consumption tax.

The State Administration of Taxation issued the “Notice on the Implementation Caliber of the Consumption Tax Policy for Some Refined Products” did not see the figure of MTBE, and further clarified that MTBE is not included in the scope of consumption tax collection. It is also due to this, resulting in MTBE market profits have risen significantly.

According to the relevant cost estimation, during the period from January 2022 to July 2023, the theoretical profit margin of MTBE in China has seen a significant rise, especially from February 2023, and within the period from mid-June 2023 to mid-July 2023, the profit growth of MTBE is larger. China’s MTBE theoretical profit margin has reached about 26%.

What kind of concept is that?

China’s MTBE market economy has always been poor, on the one hand, the raw material pre-ether C4 is mostly self-produced for self-use, refining enterprises internal settlement, can not be clear statistics of its price fluctuations, so the theoretical theory has always been in accordance with a small amount of exported pre-ether C4 price accounting, which leads to the level of its profits to be significantly lower than the actual level of profits; secondly, as a component of the oil blending material MTBE, gasoline upgrades brought by the structure of the oil blending material The second is that MTBE, as a component of oil blending materials, is subject to the transformation of oil blending materials structure brought about by gasoline upgrade, and the emergence of many alternative products, especially alkylated oils, etc., which have a greater impact on the MTBE market in the field of blending of refined oil products and lead to a gradual decrease in the competitiveness of the price fluctuations; thirdly, there are more serious contradictions between supply and demand in China’s MTBE market, and the annual industry start-up rate is less than 70%, and the individual low time reaches 40% or so, which is mainly due to the deterioration in the competitive environment, resulting in the competition at low prices In the premise of limited expansion of chemical applications, the impact of competition in the market can only be reduced by lowering the utilization rate.

It is also due to the industry generally believe that the MTBE industry as a whole is not running well, the market supply and demand contradiction is prominent, resulting in its profit margin is not large. And this policy is clear, to the MTBE business has brought a ray of hope, the industry has said that this MTBE or will “turn around”.

It should be especially noted that MTBE is the etherization product of pre-ether C4 and methanol, and its main raw materials are low purity isobutene and methanol, and it is impossible to calculate its profit margin through one step because most of the pre-ether C4 is self-consumption. According to the development mode of refining integrated industrial chain, the costing formula of MTBE cost and crude oil is traced through the formula calculation. And there is trend consistency between MTBE market price fluctuation and oil price fluctuation, the data fit of the two is more than 70%, and there is a certain correlation between data containment.

According to the long period MTBE market price fluctuation from 2009 to July 2023, the highest price in China MTBE market appeared in May 2011, the highest price reached 9738 yuan/ton, the lowest price in April 2020, the lowest price is only 3050 yuan/ton. 2009 to 2023 average price is at 6588 yuan/ton, and the current market price is is around RMB 7100/ton.

From the perspective of price fluctuations in the long historical cycle, China’s MTBE market has been in a weak fluctuation for most of the time, touching the lowest price in history many times, and the market sentiment follows that of refined oil products, but based on the market pricing, the fluctuation frequency is faster than that of refined oil products. Due to the development of China’s new energy industry, the contradiction between supply and demand in the refined oil market is prominent, which leads to the weakness of its tuning fuel following, which is also one of the main reasons for the weakness of its MTBE market.

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