The Egyptian government has repaid a further US$350 million in outstanding debt to oil and gas firm BG Group.
BG Group, one of a number of companies owed cash by the Egyptian government, says it is now owed US$920 million.
In October, the Egyptian government signed $1.4 billion worth of loans with a consortium of banks led by the National Bank of Egypt (NBE). It also brought the debt the country owes to foreigh firms down to $4.9 billion and pledged to pay back $2-3 billion owed to foreign energy companies by the end of the calendar year.
Egypt had delayed payments to oil and gas firms since a popular uprising oustsed president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The last repayment by Egypt to the foreign companies was an installment worth $1.5 billion in December 2013. According to Reuters, the cash was paid to oil majors including BP and BG Group. At the time, BG Group was owed the most.
Egypt has accumulated debt to foreign partners in the oil and gas sector operating in the country, but it is now also suffering from an escalating energy crisis, with fuel shortages and regular blackouts.
“The government aims to reduce the debt to encourage the firms to step up research and exploration operations, to boost local production of oil and gas and minimise imports, which in turn will spare the cash to continue paying Egypt's due debts to its foreign partners,” said Minister of Petroleum Sherif Ismail in the statement in October.
BG Group said today (2 January) that it has been impacted by a reduction of LNG exports from Egypt, but that it continues to investigate options for increasing the supply of gas and is working with the government on resolving the outstanding receivable balance.
In October, BP said it had started drilling the Atoll-1 deepwater well offshore Egypt using the Maersk Discoverer drillship in 923m water depth. The well spuded on 12 Septemer and drilling is expected to last into next summer.