Egypt paid foreign oil companies $600 million in arrears in August and still owes them $2.9 billion, the petroleum minister told Reuters on Wednesday. Sherif Ismail also said Egypt aims to lower the amount of arrears it owes foreign oil companies to $2.5 billion by the end of 2015.
Delays in paying back foreign companies had discouraged investment in Egypt’s economy, battered by power cuts, attacks by militants and political turmoil triggered by a 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt’s energy sector received a boost last month when Italian energy group Eni said it had discovered the largest known gas field in the Mediterranean off the Egyptian coast, predicting the find could help meet the country’s gas needs for decades to come.
Egypt, which once exported gas to Israel and elsewhere, has become a net energy importer over the last few years.