CAIRO, Sept 1 Egypt is preparing a timetable for
repaying arrears on debts it owes to foreign oil companies to
encourage them to continue investing in the country, the
Petroleum Ministry said on Sunday.
Egypt owes at least $5 billion to oil companies producing
oil and gas on its territory, with half of it overdue, according
to corporate reports issued earlier this year.
The government, seeking to avoid public unrest, has delayed
oil payments as it struggles to meet soaring energy bills caused
by high subsidies on fuel products. Some of the debts were
accumulated even before Mubarak was ousted.
Currency reserves have dwindled, food bills risen and
tourism and foreign investment collapsed since the 2011 uprising
that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Foreign companies will be asked to agree to the proposed
timetable, which is being drawn up in coordination with various
government entities, Oil Minister Sharif Ismail said in an
He hoped that a schedule to pay the arrears would encourage
companies to continue investing in exploration and development.
The government also wanted to encourage foreign companies to
speed up their development of recently discovered wells.
Financial disclosures by firms such as BP, BG,
Apache, Edison and TransGlobe Energy
show Egypt owed them more than $5.2 billion at the end of 2012.
Dana is owed $230 million by Egypt in overdue
payments for gas supplies and says it is in active dialogue with
the government over the debts.
BP was owed $3 billion as of the end of 2012, of which around
$1 billion was overdue. BG was owed $1.3 billion, of which $600
million was overdue. Edison has $400 million overdue, followed
by TransGlobe and Dana with over $200 million each.