Apache has announced its plans to increase its annual investment in Egyptian oil exploration projects to $1 billion, Xinhua reported.

Apache CEO John Christmann and petroleum minister Tarek El Molla said that the plan “reflects the importance of Egypt for Apache,” according to a ministry statement.

“Christmann and El Molla discussed means to expand Apache’s exploration activities in Egypt as well as the company’s ongoing projects and future investment plans in the country,” the statement added.

Christmann expressed the importance of creating a joint team to prepare a five-year plan for Egyptian oil exploration, breaking down the expected investments and production.

The Apache CEO also recognized Egypt’s economic achievements in the petroleum sector over the past three years, stressing that the country is heading “in the right direction”.

Apache signed a $9 billion agreement with the Ministry of Petroleum in mid-July for oil and gas exploration in the Western Desert.