Egypt to pay $1.5 bln owed to oil companies by year-end -minister

CAIRO, June 26 Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:20am EDT

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CAIRO, June 26 (Reuters) - Egypt will pay $1.5 billion of the money it owes to foreign energy companies by the end of 2014, its oil minister said on Thursday, as the government aims to lure back wary investors to tap its reserves and boost production to meet soaring demand.

The government has pledged to repay $3 billion of the more than $6 billion it owes to companies including BG Group and BP by 2017 to encourage companies to increase exploration and production.

Sherif Ismail also told reporters that Egypt's natural gas production would increase by 550 million cubic feet per day by year-end, up from the 500 million cubic feet daily announced earlier this month.

(Reporting By Abdel Rahman Adel and Ehab Farouk; Writing by Maggie Fick; editing by John Stonestreet)

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