Cela in talks with new authorities to advance energy project

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Panamanian company Centro Energético de las Américas (Cela) is in negotiations with the new government to continue development of its integrated oil and gas project, a Cela official told BNamericas.

The three-stage project - whose first phase would cost roughly US$1.1bn - includes refineries, an LNG regasification plant, storage terminals, marine facilities, pipelines and petrochemical plants.

Although Cela had penciled in this month for the start of works on the Atlantic component, this year's general elections and subsequent transition phase have pushed backed the timetable, the official said.

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Works are now scheduled to begin in the first half of next year, possibly in March, according to the official.

The official added that talks with the government's negotiating team are due to wrap up by year-end, after which the project will be submitted to the national assembly for approval.

Infrastructure on the Atlantic coast will be near the town of María Chiquita in Colón province; infrastructure on the Pacific coast will be near the former Howard air base. The facilities will be linked via a 92km pipeline, which will be negotiated as a separate component due to legal issues with the Panama Canal Authority, the official said.

The storage tanks, marine facilities and support units are due to be ready within 24 months, at which time the Pacific and pipeline components should also be ready, according to preliminary information.

The Atlantic component will boast storage capacity of 16Mb and be able to handle 2-3 ships.

The company aims to become an energy hub for the distribution of oil and petrochemicals, targeting the US east and west coasts, other parts of the Americas and Asia - in particular China and India.

The entire project envisions refineries with capacity of 2Mb/d, petrochemical plants with combined production of 3Mt/y, 1Bf3/d (28.3Mm3/d) of LNG and 86Mb of storage capacity.