In an official press release from the Ministry of Petroleum, Hamdi Abdel Aziz, the Ministry of Petroleum’s official spokesman denied what was published in a newspaper about threats made by four oil companies to withdraw their investments if the government delayed the payment of dues owed to foreign partners before the end of March.

Abdul Aziz stressed that these statements were made by unnamed sources and had no basis in truth whatsoever. He added that the presence of accumulated dues from previous years does not present a threat whatsoever, especially since more than 50% of arrears were paid.

Debts to international oil companies were reduced from about $6.3b in December 2013 to about $3b by the end of December 2015.

Abdul Aziz noted that the ministry had announced more than once its commitment to continue paying these arrears, coordinating with the foreign partners in this regard. He also said the foreign partners understanding fully the reasons that led to the accumulation of these dues in the past.

He explained that foreign oil companies operating in Egypt were continuing to pump their investments into exploration and development and were committed to the approved investment budgets set out for 2015/2016, totaling $7b.

He added that planned investments are expected to exceed $7b in 2016/2017 despite the challenges arising from the collapse of world prices for oil. In addition, 63 new petroleum agreements had been signed recently with international companies for oil and gas exploration, with investments exceeding $14b at minimum.