Egypt to clear oil debts 'in two years,' says minister
Egypt will fully clear its oil debts to foreign oil companies within two years, Oil Minister Tarek el-Molla told Egyptian state-owned media on Tuesday.
"It is hard to determine a specific date but we imagine that if the current rate of payment continues we will be able to reach zero external debt within two years," he told al-Akhbar newspaper.
The minister's prediction falls in line with Egypt's pledge to clear its oil debts by the end of June 2019. The pledge is part of efforts to attract foreign investors after Egypt recently discovered new gas reserves.
Egypt racked up its oil debts after transitioning from an exporter to an importer of energy due to increasing consumption and failing production.
With population growth of about 2 million a year, Egypt has struggled to meet domestic demand and allow its ambitious economic reforms to make a difference to the country's poor majority.
Battered by years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's economy has only recently started showing signs of recovery.
According to recent report from Egypt's Central Bank, the country's debt stood at $79 billion in June - a jump of $23.2 billion over the figure 12 months earlier.
The increase, the bank said, should give no reason for alarm.