August 9, 2017 / 7:02 AM / 15 days ago

UPDATE 1-Foreign oil firms' Egypt investments $8.1 bln in 2016-2017 -minister

(Adds quote, context)

CAIRO, Aug 9 (Reuters) - Investment by foreign oil firms in Egypt rose to $8.1 billion in 2016-2017 from $6.6 billion a year earlier, Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Molla told Reuters on Wednesday.

"The foreign partners spent $8.1 billion in exploration and development operations in Egypt during 2016-2017, compared to $6.6 billion in 2015-2016," El-Molla said in a phone call.

The oil ministry said in June that Egypt had reduced arrears owed to foreign oil companies to $2.3 billion. Egypt's fiscal year runs from July to June.

Cairo has pledged to eliminate the arrears by June 2019 and not accumulate more, part of its drive to draw new foreign investment to an energy sector that is attracting interest after several major gas discoveries.

Once an energy exporter, Egypt has turned into a net importer in recent years, squeezed by declining production and increasing consumption. (Reporting by Abdelrahman Adel; writing by Ellen Francis; editing by John Stonestreet and Jason Neely)

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