IOCs in Egypt face a mixed outlook. Some are benefitting from Cairo’s payment flexibility but others have been hamstrung by the $3.5bn-plus they are owed for past output. The burden has fallen more on smaller firms unable to ride out the lean years of low oil prices.

Egypt’s receivables bill to IOCs remains a major point of contention. It ballooned to $6bn in 2014 and although it fell to $3bn at the end of 2015, it edged back up to $3.5bn in December according to official...