Westlake Chemical Corp.‘s previously announced expansion of the Petro 2 ethylene unit at its complex in Lake Charles, LA, has begun. This expansion will be completed in conjunction with a planned maintenance turnaround and will increase ethane-based ethylene capacity by 230-240 million pounds annually in support of the company’s ethylene integration strategy. The unit is expected to be down approximately 60 days for the work to be completed.

A coalition of 17 conservation groups is calling on the Obama administration to suspend offshore drilling in the Arctic following a “series of mishaps” related to Royal Dutch Shell plc‘s program (see Daily GPI, Jan. 11; Jan. 8). The Alaska Wilderness League, Greenpeace, the National Audubon Society and 14 other nongovernmental organizations sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “Suspending Arctic oil and gas activities will provide the time to carefully reassess whether and how offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean is possible or prudent,” the letter said.

Electric use in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas region decreased 2.7% in 2012 compared to consumption in 2011, which included the state’s hottest summer on record. However, natural gas snatched a larger share of the power generation market last year. The cleaner-burning fuel saw its share rise to 44.6% from 40.4% in 2011 while coal’s share declined to 33.8% from 39%. Nuclear was nearly constant, declining to 11.8% from 11.9%, while wind power posted a gain to 9.2% from 8.5%. Power generated from water was halved to 0.1% from 0.2%, and the “other” fuel category grew to 0.5% from 0.2%.

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