World Bulletin / News Desk
Egypt has signed nine new oil and gas exploration agreements worth a total of $470 million, Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail said on Thursday.
The agreements, signed between multinational oil giants Shell, PICO and Greysone and the state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation, will cover Egypt's eastern and western deserts, the Gulf of Suez and the northeastern Sinai Peninsula.
Ismail said the new deals were part of a total package of 21 energy exploration agreements recently approved by the government.
It is the largest number of oil exploration agreements to be signed since 2010.
Egypt's petroleum sector grew by 0.6 percent in the 2010/11 fiscal year and by 0.1 percent the following fiscal year.
"The new agreements send a positive message that Egypt is still attracting oil investments," the minister said.
"They prove that international companies are increasingly interested in working in Egypt, thanks to the economic value and Egypt's strong petroleum potential," he added.
International petroleum companies working in Egypt have complained of the government's failure to repay debts amounting to $6.2 billion.
Ismail said that new oil exploration agreements were necessary for boosting Egypt's oil and natural gas reserves.