Chiriqui's second largest city, Puerto Armuelles, is currently enjoying an economic boom thanks to its strategic location and deep waters ideal for Super Tankers.
Puerto Armuelles is located in Panama's Pacific coast just 30 minutes away from Costa Rica. It is nearer to Costa Rica than David – Chiriqui's capital and largest city – which is about an hour's drive away. Panama City is about 6-8 hours away if you travel via the Pan American Highway.
Bananas used to be the major product of Puerto Armuelles. Today, oil is the major driving force of the city's economy. Oil from Alaska that needs to be transported to the Atlantic side of the US go through Puerto Armuelles first, as Super Tankers cannot pass the Panama Canal yet. The oil is unloaded in Puerto Armuelles and pumped to Chiriqui Grande in Bocas del Toro which is on the Atlantic side of Panama. From there, the oil is then loaded once again to Super Tankers and transported to the US refineries.
While the expansion of the Panama Canal is enjoying a lot of publicity, the move to build an oil refinery in Puerto Armuelles is not as well-covered by the media but it is happening. Occidental Petroleum and Qatar Petroleum are quietly moving on with the project. This will make Chiriqui the "Petroleum Hub" of the region, and along with it is the very good prospect of economic growth.
Left: Map showing Puerto Armuelles and Pedregal. The area that was in dispute with Costa Rica
is roughly the purple bulge with the name Costa Rica on it. Right: View of Puerto Armuelles
Left: Tanker unloading Alaska oil to pipeline going to the Atlantic.
Right: Street scene downtown Puerto Armuelles.
Left: Residential street in Puerto Armuelles. Right: Waterfront of the town.
Left: Ex-apartments for United Fruit administrative employees.
Right: Ex-home for United Fruit executive.
- Luis R. Celerier