Egypt aims to fully repay its $3.1 billion debt to foreign oil and gas companies by mid-2016, around a year later than previously indicated, according to the oil ministry.

“All current operational payments have been made on time and are on track to repay any remaining arrears before mid-2016,” the ministry said in a statement to Reuters late on Monday.

After making payments of nearly $5 billion in November and December, arrears stand at $3.1 billion, it said.

In November, Egypt said it would repay all its debts within six months.

Egypt has delayed payments to oil and gas firms as its economy has been hammered by almost three years of instability since a popular uprising ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.

Arrears began to accumulate before the revolt, but worsening state finances saw the debts mount to billions of dollars while the government diverted gas earmarked for export to meet domestic demand.

Gas production has steadily declined in Egypt while consumption has risen, but firms have been reluctant to increase investment in exploration and production, particularly in costly offshore areas, until the government pays them.

Source: Reuters