Egypt has signed three oil and gas exploration deals for 16 new fields in the Western Desert worth at least US$81.4 million with Royal Dutch Shell and the U.S.-based Apex International Energy.
The Petroleum Ministry said in a statement quoted by Reuters that the first deal would see Shell invest $35.5 million, and the other two would see Apex, which is operating in Egypt for the first time, invest a combined $45.9 million on two projects.
Egypt, which used to be a net energy exporter, has become a net importer in recent years as consumption has increased while production has fallen.
The government has been on a drive to lure back foreign investors to its energy sector in an effort to ease a crunch on public finances.
In December, Egypt accepted six bids for oil and gas exploration worth up to $200 million.