The Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El Molla, finalized three new exploration and production agreements, Egypt Oil & Gas reports.

US Apache and Merlon both signed agreements with the Egyptian Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) that permit them to explore for oil and gas in the Western Desert.

The agreements include $41 million in signing bonuses and require minimum investments at the sites of $79 million.

Apache agreed to invest approximately $61 million in the exploration of the Northwest Razak Concession and close to $12 million in the South El Shawish Concession.

Merlon will invest around $6 million to explore the Fayoum Concession.

According to the agreements, the companies will drill 14 exploratory wells to search for oil and gas.

The agreements were signed by the Head of EGPC, Abed Ezz El Regal; the Vice President and General Manager of Apache Egypt, David Che; and the Director of Merlon, Maged Abdel Halim.

Egypt has concluded 79 new oil- and gas-exploration agreements worth approximately $15 billion since June 30, 2013, El Molla noted.