Egypt has reduced the arrears it owes to foreign oil companies by $100m to $3.4b in 2015/2016, compared to the previous year, declared the Petroleum Minister, Tarek El Molla, according to Reuters.

The minister also said that Egypt received crude oil and natural gas from the foreign partners’ share during 2015/16 worth $5.4b. Egypt paid them $5.5b.

Egypt Independent reported that in January 2016, El Molla told Reuters that Egypt’s outstanding arrears to foreign oil companies rose to $3b at the end of December 2015 from $2.7b at the end of October.

The source added that Egypt’s aim was to reduce the arrears owed to foreign oil companies to $2.5b by the end of 2015 and to pay them off completely by the end of 2016.

Delays in paying back foreign petroleum companies had discouraged investment in the sector, which Egypt is seeking to overcome.