Puerto Barú in David is located in the District of David, Township of Chiriquí. The project is located within lands that are private and titled since the 1920s, and which are also known as Puerto Cabrito. This site was also used in the 1960s for the movement of citrus products and exports, hence the Puerto Cabrito name. The project seeks to give continuity to that historical vision and serve the needs of the province of Chiriquí and western region of Panama.
The greater maritime connectivity there is at the national level, the better. It is for this reason that as a Project we promote the vision of having different ports to serve different needs, which include Puerto Armuelles, Pedregal, and also Aguadulce. Puerto Barú in David, specifically, aims to provide continuity to the Cabrito area, where the terminal will be built, which has a strategic location about 10 kilometers from the Inter-American Highway and close to the Enrique Malek international airport. This idea was envisioned 50 years ago for a critical export project due to the characteristics of the site for a terminal. This is a terminal oriented to the movement of agro-products, the improvement in logistic connectivity for the city of David, and the reception of tourism vessels such as Mini Cruises. In relation to Pedregal and Puerto Armuelles, these are complementary ports, since Puerto Armuelles is more suited for bigger vessels that Puerto Barú cannot receive due to its deepwater port characteristics, while Pedregal focuses more on fishing activity.
Puerto Barú in David will be a multipurpose terminal to serve handysize vessels, with the capacity to transport bulk and containerized cargo. This will make it possible to manage agricultural goods, fertilizers, grains and other products that are part of the production dynamics of Chiriquí and the region. It will also have a pier to receive mini-cruises and yachts, so that passengers and crew can disembark at the port and take advantage of the tourism offer in the western region of the country.
The Project is an investment from a group of North American businessmen in alliance with Panamanian professionals who possess vast experience in the logistics and maritime sectors, and who have confidence in the development opportunities of Chiriquí and its human talent. For further reference.
This is a fully private investment project developed on private land.
The port complies with all the authorizations and steps established by Panamanian Law, with entities such as the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) and the Ministry of the Environment. In January 2023, the Category III Environmental Impact Study was presented to the latter office and the public consultation forum was held on March 9, 2023.
The project plans to start construction once all the necessary authorizations are received from the competent authorities. The construction phase of the terminal which includes the port infrastructure, the road access, the navigation access, and the tourist pier and the rest of the facilities, will take an estimated 24 months of construction. For this reason we forecast the beginning of operations of Puerto Barú in David towards the second half of 2026.
The port will be built on private land, without affecting state or third-party property, so it will not be necessary to relocate anyone. This also considers the independent access to the project, which will not pass through any existing community, since today these lands are only used for cattle ranching between the site and the Pan-American highway.
Additionally, the Project is helping to promote the formal associativity of neighboring communities through the figure of Community Base Organizations (OBC), which are legal figures that allow the communities to organize under a legal structure to be able to participate in future training programs for direct employment opportunities and future service provision.
The project is committed to working hand in hand with local authorities such as the community boards of the Townships of Chiriquí, Pedregal, David, and Boca Chica, as well as with the Municipality of the District of David, and entities such as the Firemen Department and the National Police. Initiatives are being worked on to be implemented together with the authorities to reinforce security in the area, improve access to drinking water for the communities, and implement better garbage collection and disposal systems.
Being the most important logistics investment in Chiriquí of private capital, Puerto Barú in David projects to inject dynamism into the regional economy, not only with the generation of direct jobs, but also indirect and induced, both during its construction and later with its operation.
Preliminary analysis has estimated about 1,200 direct jobs during construction and then 900 jobs during its operation, in addition to over 500 indirect jobs as a result of the collateral activities that the terminal will generate.
One of the main and most immediate impacts will be in tourism, where this unit of business alone will generate 300 jobs as a result of the facilities that the port will provide.
Puerto Barú in David will have the capacity to receive mini-cruises and yachts, and it is estimated that around 40 mini-cruises arrive in the Chiriquí Gulf area each season, carrying an average of 450 passengers and up to 100 crew members. This would represent the entry of more than 20,000 new tourists to the province by sea that to-date are arriving in the Gulf of Chiriquí, but are not being provided with any type of service.
To date, the project has been presented directly to more than 5,000 citizens over the last two (2) years; citizens who today endorse the project, and who are part of our database as active participants in the project consultation process.
Additionally, the Public Forum of the project registered the largest participation and duration of a public forum for a Category III project in the last 5 years, in the entire Republic of Panama. (700 citizens on attendance lists).
At the level of organized civil society, the project has received more than 40 declarations of formal institutional support, from institutions such as the Panama Maritime Chamber, CAMCHI, COEL, CECOMRO, Industrial Union, ARPA, Community Board of the Township of Pedregal, Communal Board of the Township of Chiriquí, National Federation of Artisanal Fishing Organizations of the Republic of Panama (FENAPESCA), among others.
The consulting team for the project, Planeta Panamá Consultores, is led by Dr. Manuel F. Zárate. Under his direction, more than 25 licensed professionals with experience in a diverse array of fields have participated in the elaboration of the Category III Environmental Impact Study.
Additionally, the project began preliminary studies by the team over two (2) years ago to obtain an Environmental Viability Resolution (April 2022) as a milestone prior to the presentation of the Environmental Impact Study, and thus guarantee compliance with all current environmental regulations.
In the first place, it is important to highlight that the project lands are outside the protected area, according to the limits established by law, and also it is well documented that they have not had mangroves or forests within their boundaries for more than 50 years, evidenced by historical satellite surveying. In addition to this, by law, the project cannot cut or remove even 0 m2 of mangroves either directly or indirectly.
Second, the Project must strictly comply with all current environmental legislation of the Republic of Panama, as well as the Protected Area Management Plan, which is already taken into consideration within the Study, so as not to impact the local fauna and flora. In addition, the project has been developed to comply with the international regulation of the International Maritime Organization, the SDGs and international environmental development standards.
The project will have potable water extraction on private land through deep-well technology with a depths of more than 250 meters. In this way, the project will guarantee that it will not be connected to the existing supply networks that supply the neighboring communities.
The project has a controlled navigation that has the following characteristics:
30 Kilometers of controlled Navigation, similar to the Panama Canal, through Project Pilots. This 100 meter wide channel is marked by green and red buoys.
The channel will have controlled speeds of a maximum of 6 knots (11 km/h) to minimize noise impacts and wave generation. These speeds are already demonstrated that they do not generate consequential impacts.
The estimated time will be 2 hours of navigation, and an estimated frequency of 1 boat per day is foreseen. (340 / year).
± 30 Kilometers from the entrance to the Puerto Barú in David channel to the existing navigation corridors enabled for vessels going to PTP and Puerto Armuelles. Due to this, the majority of transit for access to the Port will occur in already established transit areas.
Navigation legislation in national waters will be followed as established by the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) in conjunction with the IMO. These are the same controls that exist in Panama Bay for access to and exit from the Panama Canal, which also follow the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
Comparison: Puerto Barú in David foresees a transit of 340 ships / year. In comparison, the Panama Canal had 13,500 ship transits in 2022, with no reported incidents of accidents with marine species such as cetaceans, or effects on the populations of marine fauna in the Panama Bay. Puerto Barú in David is a very small project in terms of its impact when compared to the terminals that currently operate along the canal strip.