CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El Molla has signed three oil and gas exploration deals for 16 new fields in the Western Desert worth at least $81.4 million in total with Royal Dutch Shell and the U.S.-based Apex International Energy.
The Petroleum Ministry said in a statement that the first deal would see Shell invest $35.5 million, and the other two would see Apex, which is operating in Egypt for the first time, invest a combined $45.9 million on two projects.
Egypt, which used to be a net energy exporter, has become a net importer in recent years as consumption has increased while production has fallen.
The government has been on a drive to lure back foreign investors to its energy sector in an effort to address a squeeze on public finances.
In December, Egypt accepted six bids for oil and gas exploration worth up to $200 million
(This version of the story corrects name of company to Apex International Energy)
Reporting by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Ahmed Aboulenein and Louise Heavens