Egyptian Petroleum Minister, Tarek El Molla, said that cuts in fuel subsidies are quickly reducing Egypt’s budget deficit. The Financial Times reports that spending on fuel subsidies will be reduced from $9b in fiscal year 2014/2015 to $7.7b this cycle.

Growing demand for energy in Egypt has been met with declining domestic production, which has led to Egypt’s increasing import of energy. El-Molla said he expects it to take at least seven years for Egypt to become a net energy exporter again.

The global decline in the price of oil has helped to ease some of the financial strain on the Egyptian government, but a number of obstacles remain. The Egyptian government owes billions to its foreign partners, which it is working to repay despite the Egyptian Central Bank’s declining foreign currency reserves. Major investments in electricity generation and transmission are needed in the future.

The minister stated that Egypt must make self-sufficiency a priority and that the August discovery of the Zohr Field by Eni raises confidence that self-sufficiency can be achieved.