The Assistant Sub Governor for Foreign Reserves at The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), Rami Aboul Naga, said that Egypt paid $630m in financial obligations to Italian oil and gas company Eni in January to develop the giant Zohr gas field in the Mediterranean Sea, Reuters reported.

Aboul Naga  added that the CBE also paid a January installment to the Paris Club, and fulfilled other international commitments related to the country’s foreign debt, Ahram Online informed.

The Egyptian Petroleum Minister, Tarek El Molla stated in January that Egypt was committed to repaying the $3.5b it owes in arrears to foreign oil companies, but a foreign currency shortage has made the drawing down of those debts more difficult.

The approval process for development of the field was completed in February 2016 and first gas is expected by the end of 2017, which will save Egypt billions of dollars in hard currency that would otherwise be spent on imports.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s foreign currency reserves rose to $26.363b at the end of January, but were still about $10b less than the reserves before an uprising in 2011.