Mike Leffert

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Panama has signed accords that will make the country home to two new oil refineries. A consortium composed of US-based DuTemp, ControlSud of Luxemburg, and Ecosel of Colombia has signed a deal that creates the Panamanian company EDC. The company will invest US$6.5 billion in a plant that will produce an estimated 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of gasoline. The ink was hardly dry on that deal when officials signed another with Occidental Petroleum and the country of Qatar to build a 350,000-bpd refinery at a cost of US$8 billion, as President Martin Torrijos looked on. The price tag on each of these plants is more than the US$5.25 billion to be spent on the Panama Canal expansion. The EDC plant is to be something of a gem, a state-of-the-art exercise that will incorporate plasma arc technology to make it, say the promoters, nearly pollution free. Said Alberto Grosso, president of ControlSud International, "The construction of this refinery will bring Panama to greatest importance in Central America and in the world as an energy hub." Sergio Barreto, architect of the plant, said, "It is an ecological refinery with a design that allows us to achieve 100% full conversion, without waste or emissions."