The fall in sums owed by EGPC to IOCs looks like good news. The end-2016 total is down $1.4bn on two years earlier. But scratch the surface and a different picture emerges with even ‘winners’ Eni and BP accepting an unofficial write-down.

Eni and BP, the two largest producers of gas in Egypt, have both notched up substantial falls in the amounts they are owed by Egyptian state firm EGPC.

Eni, in its 2016 annual report, released 22 March, says that as of end-2016 the...