July 29, 2020 / 8:16 AM / 8 days ago

Egypt's arrears to oil firms down to $850 million at end-June

FILE PHOTO: Tarek El Molla, Egypt's Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, arrives for a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus September 18, 2018. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s arrears to foreign oil companies stood at $850 million at the end of June, done from $900 million a year earlier, the petroleum minister said on Wednesday.

“The balance of foreign partners’ dues decreased by the end of June to $850 million from $900 million a year ago, despite the impact of the coronavirus crisis,” Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla told Reuters.

The arrears were down 5.5% from the end of fiscal 2018/19.

Arrears to foreign oil companies accumulated after the 2011 uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak and reached $6.3 billion in the 2011/2012 fiscal year.

They have declined steadily since 2014 as Egypt sought to become a regional energy hub.‮ ‬

Cairo has been trying to eliminate its arrears as it seeks to attract more foreign investment to its energy industry, which has drawn increased interest after several major gas discoveries were made.

Over the past three years, Egypt also has phased out subsidies on most fuel products as part of an IMF-backed economic reform programme.

Reporting by Ahmed Ismail; writing by Mahmoud Mourad; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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