06 January 2016, Cairo – Egypt’s outstanding arrears to foreign oil companies rose to three billion dollars at the end of December 2015.
As of the end of October , it was 2.7 billion dollars , Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told media at weekend.
The ministry had said in September that Egypt aimed to reduce the arrears owed to foreign oil companies to 2.5 billion dollars by the end of 2015.
The country aimed to pay them off completely by the end of 2016.
Delays in paying back foreign petroleum companies had discouraged investment in the sector.
However, a drive to increase the price paid for domestic production and pay back arrears had encouraged new contracts signed in 2015.
El Molla did not provide further details on why total arrears have risen since November.
Egypt has run short of hard currency since a 2011 uprising drove tourists and investors away. Reserves almost halved to 16.4 billion dollars by the end of November.
Once an energy exporter, Egypt has turned into a net importer because of declining oil and gas production and increasing consumption.
It is trying to speed up production at recent discoveries to fill its energy gap.