PANAMA CITY – The governments of Panama and Qatar and executives of Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) signed an accord May 15 to begin the second phase of a project to build an $8 billion oil refinery in this Central American country.
Panamanian Trade Minister Alejandro Ferrer, Qatari Vice-Minister of Energy Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah and Oxy president John Morgan signed the memorandum of understanding in the presence of Panamanian President Martín Torrijos.
During the second phase, up to $20 million will be invested to present the final study, including the configuration of the plant, the preparation of the site and analysis of infrastructure requirements.
The facility will have a refining capacity of around 350,000 barrels of crude per day, and it is estimated that approximately 5,000 workers will be required for its construction and at least 1,000 more to operate and maintain it.
The construction of the refinery will be carried out in the western town of Puerto Armuelles, located on the Costa Rican border.
Al-Attiyah said that Qatar Petroleum selected Panama as the site for the investment because “it’s the correct place to do it.
It has political stability, economic stability and it is the gateway to the United States as well as to Latin America.”
Meanwhile, Oxy chief Morgan said that Panama is in an ideal position to build the refinery and it is for that reason that his firm had been interested in the project from the very start.
Morgan said that the accord contributes to strengthening the relationship between Occidental and Qatar Petroleum in the gas and oil sectors.
Finally, Panamanian Minister Ferrer said that the achievement shows yet again “that it’s Panama’s moment,” adding that this is the best opportunity to consolidate the position of the country “as an energy center on the world level.”
Last fall, Panamanians voted in a referendum to approve plans for an expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate larger vessels.