(Corrects to remove Apache from list of firms having made
financial disclosures in penultimate para)
CAIRO, Sept 12 Egypt is close to agreeing a
schedule for repaying $6 billion in outstanding debt to foreign
oil companies, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said in a
newspaper interview published on Thursday.
Beblawi also told Al Masry Al Youm that reaching an
agreement would lead to a rise in investments from the companies
to $15 billion within two years.
The Egyptian state, racked by political and economic turmoil
since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, has been
struggling to meet soaring energy bills caused by high subsidies
on fuel products for the country's 84 million-plus population.
"We are in debt to foreign oil firms for around $6 billion,
which is what led them to stop investing. We are on the verge of
reaching an agreement with them to schedule the debts," Beblawi
"Reaching a settlement will lead to a rise in investment
from foreign (oil) firms within two years to $15 billion."
Earlier this month, Oil Minister Sharif Ismail said Egypt
was preparing a timetable for repaying arrears on debts it owes
to foreign companies in order to encourage them to continue
investing in exploration and development.
Financial disclosures by firms including BP PLC, BG
Group, Edison SpA and TransGlobe Energy
show Egypt owed them more than $5.2 billion at the end
Dana Gas, owed $230 million by Egypt in overdue
payments for gas supplies, said it was in active dialogue with
the government over the debts.
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Michael Georgy, John
Stonestreet and Anthony Barker)