World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt will pay $1.5 billion of the money it owes to foreign energy companies by the end of 2014, its oil minister said on Thursday, as the government tries to stave off a worsening power crisis.
Political turmoil and violence since the 2011 revolt that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak has hit the economy hard and deepened problems in the chaotic and underdeveloped energy sector with generous state subsidies stoking demand.
The latest government figures put Egypt's debts to foreign oil companies operating there at $5.7 billion, but officials including Oil Minister Sherif Ismail acknowledge that debts are mounting even as the government pays off what it owes now.
The government has promised to pay companies including BG Group BG.L and BP $3 billion by the end of 2017 as it tries to lure back investors to tap its reserves and boost production to meet soaring demand.
In April, Ismail said Egypt would pay about $1 billion "within two months" but the government has not yet announced that it has paid.
Ismail told reporters that Egypt's natural gas production would rise by 550 million cubic feet per day this year, up from the 500 million announced earlier this month.
Egypt has cut into exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) promised to foreign firms, another cause for strain between the government and investors, although Algeria's Sonatrach has agreed to ship five cargoes of LNG to Egypt before the year-end.
$10bn gas project with BP restarted
Egypt's oil minister said on Thursday that BP'S $10 billion natural gas project in the North Alexandria concession, stalled for the past three years, had restarted and that production would begin in 2017.
Sherif Ismail told reporters on a visit to Al-Aseel oil field that production was expected to begin in 2017, with 450 million cubic feet per day initially being extracted. He said production would rise to 800 million cubic feet per day in 2018.
BP, one of the largest foreign investors in Egypt, had initially planned to start production this year, but the date was pushed back after a delay that paused work for three years, the minister said.
Ismail said a delegation from BP would arrive on July 17 for talks with the government.Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2014, 14:41