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Egypt's Oil Minister Sherif Ismail

Debt owed by Egypt to foreign oil companies rose to $5.9 billion at the end of April, the head of Egyptian General Petroleum said on Wednesday.

In December 2013, payments owed totaled $4.9 billion.

“BG Group is owed the biggest debt,” said Tarek El Molla, chairman of Egyptian General Petroleum.

At the end of 2013, Egypt paid back $1.5 billion as the government seeks to entice foreign firms into investing again in exploration.

In February, Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said the government hoped to schedule repayments of around $3.5 billion that will be completed by 2016.