Egypt is planning to pay its $3.1bn debt to international oil companies by mid-2016, according to Oil Minister Sherif Ismail, taking about a year longer to pay off its debt than was indicated in previous statements.

“We have already reduced the debt from $6.3bn at the start of 2013 to $3.1bn at the end of last year,” Ismail told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “We have no certain timetable for the next payments, but we plan to pay back the entire amount by mid-next year.”

Egypt’s large debt to oil companies has led to underinvestment in its oil and gas assets over recent years.

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