Contributed by: Don WinnerEnergias - a consortium of private firms led by Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas will present a 20 year plan worth US$40 bln to transform Panama into a refinery and petrochemical hub for Latin America. The consortium comprises of private investors from USA to Asia. The project anticipates to benefit from the projected shortfall in U.S. refining capacity and high oil prices to turn Panama into a major center for energy distribution. Plans include building of refineries, petrochemical plants and a 56 mile (90 km) long oil pipeline that would follow the route of Panama's inter-oceanic canal. The project, which would spread over a 3,700 acre site on Panama's Atlantic coast, would have an oil refining capacity of 2 million bpd, and a 3 mln tpa of petrochemicals, including polymers and fertilizers. The pipeline will be supported by a new set of docks that would handle 2,400 vessels annually, and help the products reach markets in Asia, West Coast of USA and the Caribbean. The plan is subject to government approval and will have to overcome fierce environmental resistance.