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Rising gasoline consumption in developing economies

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

GBI Research have said in a new report that developing economies such as China, Brazil and India are due to demand more methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), as increasing development and improving standards of living within the economies drives up gasoline consumption. The shift is predicted in upcoming installed capacity from developed economies of North America, Europe, the Middle East and some Asia Pacific regions.


MTBE is a hydrocarbon produced from fossil fuels through specific cracking processes. It is used within gasoline blending as a fuel component and is also used as a solvent.

Over the last 10 years global demand for MTBE has declined in developed markets such as Canada and the US. This is because it was classified as a pollutant and was banned from being used in gasoline blending. Countries that banned MTBE now use Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE) and ethanol as replacements. Due to these replacement procedures demand for MTBE dropped from 19 320 447 t in 2000 to 12 103 666 t in 2011.

Demand improvements

Now, developing economies in the Middle East and Asia Pacific are set to expand their domestic use of MTBE. Increasing levels of awareness surrounding environmental issues has promoted the use of MTBE in some instances to replace toxic substances such as lead, sulfur and benzene. Also, rising standards of living are boosting gasoline consumption. This increased demand is beginning to compensate for the demand decline being lead by developed nations, and MTBE demand is expected to increase in developing countries to such an extent that it is likely to hit 20 253 468 t by 2020.

Cheap feedstock in the Middle East has introduced a new era of industrialisation in the region, which is helping to fuel the production of MTBE. However, the Asia Pacific region is expected to account for the majority share in the global market currently predicted to be 67.8%. This is because China is seeing increasing development which is demanding high levels of gasoline. Also, increasing environmental awareness in China has fuelled growing MTBE demand as the hydrocarbon can be used as a replacement for other additives in gasoline which have much higher sulfur levels. By 2020, China is expected to be the largest MTBE consuming market in the world.

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd.

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