Reuters – Egypt’s debts to foreign oil companies operating in the country rose to $5.7bn by the end of March, the head of the state-run oil company told Reuters, up $800m from the government’s last reported figure despite recent repayments.
Money owed to foreign oil majors including BP and BG Group totalled $4.9bn in December, indicating Cairo’s debts to the firms continue to mount despite efforts to restore investor confidence by paying down the arrears.
Egypt has delayed payments to oil and gas firms as its economy has been hammered by almost three years of instability since a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Some of the debts were incurred before the revolt.
Molla did not say how or when the country plans to repay the rest of the debt. Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said in February the government hoped to schedule repayments of around $3.5bn that will be completed by 2016.
Energy prices in Egypt are among the lowest in the world, and the cash-strapped government spends more than a fifth of its budget on keeping them down. Artificially low prices provide little incentive for Egyptians to curb consumption.