January 19, 2000
MTBE in Nebraska

The following information is from Fred Stone, executive director, Nebraska Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, Inc., (phone: 402.474.6691; fax: 402.474.2510), January 4, 1999.

MTBE is an additive to gasoline to reduce air pollution.

The major supply terminals that supply most of the gasoline to the eastern part of the State of Nebraska are the Williams pipeline terminal located in Omaha and the cooperative terminal in Council Bluffs, IA.

Williams Pipeline System
In the Williams System, MTBE is not a product that is shipped through the pipeline system. MTBE, if available at the Williams terminal, is brought in by transport and blended upon request by the customer purchasing the product at the terminal.

The Williams pipeline terminals at Omaha and Lincoln have never carried MTBE as an additive. MTBE was carried at the Williams' Des Moines, IA terminal up until approximately three or four years ago. MTBE was carried at the Williams' Iowa City terminal until early 1998.

It is possible, although highly unlikely, that in times of shortage, marketers from Nebraska may have traveled to Des Moines to obtain the product. If this was done prior to the Williams terminal discontinuing the stock of MTBE, a Nebraska marketer could have obtained this product.

Again, this is highly unlikely since a MTBE blend adds an additional cost to the price of gasoline. Typically, during times of a shortage, prices already have escalated so that most marketers would not want to pay an additional price for a MTBE blended product.

Cooperative Terminal, Council Bluffs, IA
Since the cooperative terminal in Council Bluffs is operated by Farmland, it is not believed this terminal would have ever carried a MTBE product. Obviously, a farmer-owned cooperative would be in favor of making ethanol available rather than a product that is considered to compete with ethanol.

Kaneb Pipeline Company
The Kaneb Pipeline Company has pipeline terminals at North Platte, Geneva, Osceola and Columbus.

Western Nebraska
The proximity of western Nebraska to eastern Colorado makes it somewhat more possible for MTBE to come into Nebraska. The front range area of Colorado is an "oxy fuel" mandate area that requires oxygenerated gasoline to be sold in the winter months.

The requirement may be met with either a 10% blend of ethanol or a 15% blend of MTBE. Although quite a bit of MTBE blended product was sole in the Denver area, no one could state that MTBE was imported into Nebraska.

It would appear that the only time a MTBE blended product might come in from Denver is during times of severe product shortages. Nebraska marketers might have to travel to Denver to obtain gasoline.

It is highly unlikely that Nebraska marketers would choose to purchase a MTBE blend since the cost of this product would be more than an ethanol blend. Also, since Nebraska is not an oxy mandated state, there would be no reason to purchase the more expensive MTBE blended product.

The Frontier Refining Company in Cheyenne, WY that has sold the MTBE blended product, however the refinery said none has been sold for delivery in Nebraska.

There evidently was a release of MTBE into ground water in the Norfolk area. This occurred more than 10 years ago and coincides with the time Pester Derby Refinery of Eldorado, KS was delivering fuel by transport to some of its retail outlets. Although the time frame is the same, it could not be determined conclusively that the MTBE contamination came from a Pester Derby Station or the Pester Derby Refinery.

The use of a MTBE blended product seems to be extremely limited. It could not be determined that MTBE was sold or stored in Nebraska for a sustained period of time. It also appears that the use of MTBE in Nebraska will not increase. In fact, the availability of MTBE seems to be on the decline in the Midwest.

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