Panama Adopts the Metric System

As of Sunday, March 17, 2013, all fuels in Panama will be sold by the liter instead of the traditional U.S. gallon.  Javier Arias, director of the National Methodology Center of Panama (Cenamet), said the change in the conversion of gallons to liters does not represent in any way, shape or form, a price increase, it’s only changes the way you order the product.

Arias explained that all they are doing is converting the price per gallon with international conversion factor (3.78541178) to convert gallons to liters.

The service stations will work from March 17 until April 30 when full adaptation of the new system should by ready across the country On May 1, 2013, all fuel sales should be made using the liter as the unit of measurement to comply with the regulations of the World Trade Organization—WTO (Sistema Internacional de Unidad de Medidas de Panamá).

This adoption of liters is based on Law 52 of December 11, 2007 which allowed Panama a period of up to  five years to carry out the new system known as “Sistema Internacional de Unidad de Medidas de Panamá (Panama International Measurements of Units).  It will be mandatory for all service stations to post their prices in liters with three decimal points to insure accuracy in the conversion of gallons to liters.

The Secretaría Nacional de Energía—SNE (National Energy Secretariat) published on its website,, fuel price caps that change every 15 days, and the price in gallons together with its conversion to liters. In Panama City, the price of a liter of 95 octane gasoline is $ 1,218 and one of light diesel oil is $ 1,036.

For your convenience, let me explain that a gallon is a measure of volume primarily used in the United States but also commonly used in many other English-speaking countries. Most other countries use “liters“—the metric unit of measure for volume.

The U.S. gallon is used in the United States and is equal to exactly 231 cubic inches or 3.785411784 liters.  The Imperial gallon or UK gallon is used in the United Kingdom and is equal to approximately 277.42 cubic inches. Its exact value is 4.54609 liters. One imperial gallon is about 1.2 U.S. gallons.

Yesterday I went to the Puma service station at the entrance of our neighborhood and the price of fuels was still posted in U.S. gallons.  At any moment the change will be made.  I’m good with numbers, so this change will mean nothing to me.  It’s all the same thing with different names and numbers.

Snapshot of fuel prices on March 17, 2013 at a Puma service station at the entrance of Residencial El Bosque showing prices in U.S. gallons. Soon they will change to liters according to the new regulations of the World Trade Organization. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

If you are planning a trip to Panama be prepared to find a new semantics for fuels in the country.  The current prices for fuels expressed in liters are:

  • Light Diesel Oil:  $1.028
  • Regular Gasoline:  $1.094
  • Super Gasoline:  $1.210

The same applies for other products as well.  We are gradually learning a brand new vocabulary, (e.g.,  grams, kilos, meters, liters and so forth).  Good Day.

Source:  Gallons to Liters Conversion


One thought on “Panama Adopts the Metric System”

  1. Omar:
    Le hago el mismo comentario que hice en el blog de Don Ray (disculpe pero es en Inglés):

    “Que payasada! And also Panama is adopting the Kilogram, I believe. Someone is making money out of these changes for sure. Next, change from Celsius to Fahrenheit, and to feet and miles from meters and kilometers.”


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