CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 084518 SS
Tariff NO. 2711.12, 2711.29, 2707.20, 2902.30, 2909.19, 2710.00
RE: Butane, Propane, Toluene, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether
Mr. Arnold Moore
American Petroleum Institute
1220 L Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Dear Mr. Moore:
This is in response to your letter dated May 3, 1989,
requesting a tariff classification for certain products under the
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) and the
Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS). Customs is no
longer issuing classification rulings under the TSUS for
prospective transactions. If any questions remain under TSUS,
they must relate to specific importations and should be handled
under the usual procedures for internal advice or further review
We are treating your letter as a request for information
rather than a request for a ruling inasmuch as your questions
seem to be hypothetical in nature rather than related to a
specific transaction. Issuing a ruling under these circumstances
would not be in accordance with the sound administration of
Customs and related laws.
The products in issue are described as follows:
(1) Butane - predominantly n-butane, or isobutane, derived
from petroleum or natural gas. Butane is a colorless gas
at atmospheric pressure, and is used as a raw material for
chemical products and high-octane liquid fuels, including
direct blending into motor fuel.
(2) Propane - derived from petroleum or natural gas.
Propane is a colorless gas at atmospheric pressure. It is
- 2 -
used for household and industrial fuels, as material for the
manufacture of chemical products. It may also be used directly
as motor fuel.
Toluene - an aromatic hydrocarbon obtained from the
distillation of aromatic streams primarily manufactured
through catalytic reforming processes.
Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) - An ether which is
manufactured by chemically reacting methanol and
isobutylene. MTBE is used primarily as an EPA approved
octane booster for unleaded gasoline through direct
blending. It is also used to satisfy requirements for
oxygenates in fuels in certain geographic locations (e.g.,
Naphtha - Defined as a generic term which may be applied to
refined, partly refined or unrefined petroleum products,
and liquid products of natural gas, not less than ten
percent of which distill below 347`F (175`C), and not less
than 95 percent of which distill below 464`F (240`C) when
subjected to distillation in accordance with the Standard
Method of Tests for distillation of gasoline, naphtha,
kerosene, and similar petroleum products.
It is further stated that naphtha is an unfinished
petroleum product which is derived from crude oil and
natural gas condensate. It is used primarily as feedstock
for catalytic reformers or other refinery processes which
are required to change these materials into motor fuel
components and as feedstock for chemical manufacturing
processes. As a feedstock, these materials are also known
by more specific terms such as straight run naphtha,
hydrocracked naphtha, thermally cracked naphtha, etc.
These materials all have low octane ratings and are not
suitable as gasoline blending components, especially in a
lead free environment.
Classification under the HTSUS is governed by the General
Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI provides that
classification is determined first in accordance with the terms
of the headings and any relative Section or Chapter notes.
- 3 -
Heading 2711, HTSUS, provides for petroleum gases and other
gaseous hydrocarbons. The Explanatory Notes which should be
consulted for guidance in interpretations of the provisions of
the HTSUS, state that this heading covers crude gaseous
hydrocarbons obtained as natural gases or from petroleum, or
produced chemically. Methane and propane are, however, included
even when pure.
Heading 2901, HTSUS, provides for acyclic hydrocarbons.
The Explanatory notes to this heading state that this heading
excludes crude butane, crude petroleum gases and similar crude
gaseous hydrocarbons of heading 27.11.
Subheading 2711.13.00, HTSUS, provides for petroleum gases
and other gaseous hydrocarbons: Liquefied: butanes with a minimum
purity of 90 liquid volume percent. Subheading 2711.29.00.20
provides for petroleum gases and other gaseous hydrocarbons: In
gaseous state, butane with a minimum purity of 90 liquid volume
percent. Subheading 2901.10.10.00 HTSUS, provides for acyclic
hydrocarbons: saturated, butane.
Accordingly, the subject butane is properly classifiable in
the above subheadings depending on whether the product is crude,
and is in the liquid or gaseous state, or whether in the pure
Subheading 2711.12.00, HTSUS, specifically provides for
liquified propane with a minimun purity of 90 liquid volume
percent. Subheading 2711.29.00 HTSUS, specifically provides for
gaseous propane with a minimum purity of 90 liquid volume
Heading 2707, HTSUS, provides for oils and other products
of the distillation of high temperature coal tar; similar
products in which the weight of the aromatic constituents exceeds
that of the nonaromatic constituents. The Explanatory Notes to
this heading state that this heading includes the oils and
products... whether crude or refined, but it excludes separate
chemically defined compounds in the pure or chemically pure state
obtained by further fractionation or by other processing of tar
oils (Chapter 29). The Explanatory Notes to heading 29.02
provide that to fall in this heading toluene must distill 1
percent to 96 percent by volume within a 2 C range which
includes 110.6 C. Toluene of a lower purity is excluded (heading
- 4 -
Subheading 2707.20.00.00.8 specifically provides for
toluene of a purity lower than required of heading 29.02, HTSUS.
Toluene which meets the specifications of heading 29.02, HTSUS
are classifiabble under subheading 2902.30.00.00.9, HTSUS.
Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is a separate chemically
defined organic compound and usually produced from hydrogen and
carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide. It can be produced from the
oxidation of hydrocarbon gases.
Subheading 2710.00.18, HTSUS, provides for motor fuel
blending stock. However, headnote 1 (a) of chapter 27
specifically excludes "separate chemically defined organic
compounds". Since MTBE is a separate chemically defined organic
compound, it is precluded from classificayion under this chapter.
Subheading 2909.19.10, HTSUS, provides for ethers of
monohydric alcohols. As an ether of a monohydric alcohol
(methanol), MTBE is properly classifiable under this subheading.
Subheading 2710.00.25, HTSUS specifically provides for
naphthas (except motor fuel or motor fuel blending stock).
The subject products are classisified as follows:
Butane - having a minimum purity of 90 liquid volume
liquified - under subheading 2711.13.00, HTSUS;
gaseous - under subheading 2711.29.00.20.9, HTSUS;
chemically defined, not crude - under subheading
Propane - having a minimum purity of 90 liquid volume
liquified - under subheading 2711.12.00, HTSUS;
gaseous - under subheading 2711.29.00., HTSUS.
crude or refined - under subheading 2707.20.00.00.8, HTSUS;
in pure or chemically pure state - 2902.30.00.00.9, HTSUS.
- 5 -
Methyl tertiary butyl ether - under subheading 2909.19.10,
Naphtha - under subheading 2710.00.25, HTSUS.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division
6cc: Area Director New York Seaport