ACCRA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp signed a deal with Ghana on Thursday to explore for oil in the Deepwater Cape Three Point offshore (DWCTP) oilfield. The signing followed direct negotiations between Ghana and Exxon Mobil without an open competitive tender due to the nature of the field, where the depth ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 metres, Ghanaian officials said.
Ghana, which exports cocoa and gold, began commercial production of oil from its flagship Jubilee reserves in late 2010. Other firms drilling in the West African country include UK's Tullow oil and Kosmos Energy.
The Exxon Mobil deal is the first to be signed after the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea last September drew an ocean boundary favouring Ghana in a dispute with its neighbour Ivory Coast. Exxon Mobil, lead operator, holds an 80-percent interest in the DWCTP, while state-run Ghana National Petroleum Corporation holds 15 percent. Exxon is yet to select a local partner to own the remaining 5 percent as Ghana's laws required, Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko told Reuters.
The agreement is subject to approval by parliament and Exxon is expected to start exploration this year, Agyarko said. (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Andrew Heavens)