Ghana has approved state-owned company GOIL as minority local partner for Exxon Mobil’s deepwater offshore oil field, Energy Minister Peter Amewu said Nov. 7.

The West African nation is receiving “huge interest” from international and local oil companies after the government launched its first bidding rounds for offshore blocks last month, Amewu told reporters.

Exxon Mobil signed a deal with Ghana in January for exploration at the Deepwater Cape Three Point oil field after direct negotiations without an open tender because of the nature of the field, where the depth ranges from 2,000 m to 4,000 m, the government said.

The U.S. oil major is lead operator with 80% interest in the field, while state-run Ghana National Petroleum Corp. holds 15%. The deal required a local partner to own the remaining 5%.

Exxon named GOIL as the partner about two weeks ago and the government has given the consent it needed at the ministerial level, Amewu said.

The deal still requires parliamentary approval.

In October, the government launched its first bidding rounds to award six blocks this year and another three in 2019 through a mix of open tenders and direct negotiations.

“The interest that has been shown so far is huge and it is interesting to know that a number of international oil companies and national oil companies have all shown interest in our licensing round,” Amewu said.

Ghana, which also exports cocoa and gold, produces around 200,000 barrels of oil per day from three fields.