Egypt says drawing up timetable to repay energy debts

Egypt is preparing a timetable forthe repayment of arrears on its debts to foreign oil companiesoperating in the country, the Petroleum Ministry said in anemailed statement on Sunday.

The companies will be asked to agree to the proposal, whichis being drawn up in coordination with various governmententities. The debts have been accumulated over several years.

It hopes that by paying back the arrears it will encouragecompanies to increase investments in oil exploration anddevelopment, it said.

The government has accumulated debts of several billiondollars for oil and gas it has bought from companies producingwithin Egypt.