By Muhammad Adel
At the end of April, debts owed to foreign partners by the Egyptian petroleum sector increased to approximately $6bn, from $5.7bn in March.
The rate of development and exploration of oil fields by foreign partners has continued to slow as a result of increasing dues of about $300m in one month, according to Khaled Abdel Badie, president of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS).
Egypt is facing a serious issue as a result of the government’s inability to pay its debts to foreign partners in light of the poor economic situation. The Ministry of Petroleum paid approximately $ 1.5bn to foreign partners working in the sector last December, when debt stood at $6.3bn.
Abdel Badie promised foreign partners payment of approximately $ 1bn over the next two months. However, this will not affect the final amount of debts owed to partners as gas and crude oil are imported from partners at a rate of about $700m per month.
He continued by saying that the only way to pay off the debts is if the Ministry of Petroleum is to receive payment on the dues owed by different government sectors in Egypt, which exceed EGP 110bn.
A number of foreign partners reduced their investments in the sector for the coming period. This will cause average natural gas production to level off at 5.1bn cubic feet per day, and crude oil will average 690,000 barrels per day during the next four years, according to official statements.
Abdel Badie added that Egypt was producing about 5.7bn cubic feet of gas per day and 695,000 barrels of crude oil as of 2010.