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Sunday, March 26 2017 @ 01:17 AM EDT

Quijano Says Government Proceeding With Oil Exploration Contracts

Oil and Gas Exploration Panama's Minister of Trade and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, said this morning it will take about two to three years to learn if there are exploitable oil reserves in the Darien because there are many tests have have to be done as part of the process. Quijano made his statements after the MICI announced yesterday, Tuesday, 13 September 2011, that they would hold a bidding process open to international bidders later this year for a government contract to explore for oil deposits in the province of the Darien, on Panama's border with Colombia. Although Quijano admitted that he did not know the details, he explained they have to conduct studies to find out what areas can be exploited, whether or not those assets should be exploited, and to determine what would be the cost to the country. He added while speaking on Telemetro if it is possible to extract oil in the Darien, they would have to analyze how to export it, because right now there is no refinery in Panama. "I do not think we can be producing oil during this administration," he said this morning on the news. Yesterday, Tuesday, the Director of Hydrocarbons, Renza Samudio, said the explorations based on the bidding process will be done in the Garachiné-Sambú zone, in the waters of the Pacific coast, and in the area of Bayano-Chucunaque-Atrato, on land, outside of natural protected zones. The Ministry of Energy, another entity that handles the issue, announced last month that there are approximately 900 million barrels of oil in the Darien. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: During the administration of Martin Torrijos (2004 - 2009) there was a big interest for awhile in building a refinery in Panama. At one point there were no less than seven different projects in different phases of development. All of them folded their tents and left. The corrupt government officials were trying to charge the businessmen tens of thousands of dollars, for nothing more than to schedule meetings with low level government officials. All of them said "screw this, the government of Panama is too corrupt to deal with" and they left. The oil is there, a fact which has been known for a very long time. What remains to be seen is if the government (of the day) has the political will to put through a win-win deal and make it a reality. Very cheap gas in Panama would be great, someday. And by the way, Ricardo Quijano stepped up to take over the MICI, after Roberto Henriquez stepped up to take over the Foreign Ministry, after Ricardo Martinelli fired Vice President Juan Carlos Varela from that post. Follow?

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