CAIRO, April 22 Egypt will pay about $1 billion
of the money it owes to foreign oil companies within the next
two months, the state's MENA news agency said, quoting Oil
Minister Sherif Ismail.
Egypt says it owes some $6.3 billion to those companies.
It last year said it paid $1 billion of the money it owes
the international firms as part of a repayment scheme seeking to
revive confidence in the economy after years of turmoil.
"A new chunk of around $1 billion will be paid to foreign
firms within two months," Ismail said on Tuesday.
The country has previously said it would repay a further $3
billion in monthly installments until 2017 as an incentive to
encourage foreign oil companies to increase exploration and
Egypt has been struggling to meet soaring energy bills
caused by high subsidies on fuel products for its 85 million
people, most of whom are poor and uneducated.
The government's ability to pay oil companies and
contractors was hit after the popular uprising that ousted
president Hosni Mubarak in Feb. 2011 which roiled investment and
tourism and cut tax revenues.
Financial disclosures by firms including BP, BG Group
, Edison SpA and TransGlobe Energy show
Egypt owed them more than $5.2 billion at the end of 2012.
Political turmoil has intensified after the army overthrew
elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi last year following
widespread protests against him.
Since Mursi's ouster, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United
Arab Emirates have poured in billions of dollars in grants,
interest-free loans and oil products.
Ismail said Egypt receives around $700 million in petroleum
aid every month from Arab states.
(Reporting by Ehab Farouk, Mostafa Hashem and Yasmine Saleh;
Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Eric Walsh)