The US-based ExxonMobil Corporation is in secret talks with Juba to buy a stake in South Sudan’s vast untapped oil deposit, a senior-level government source familiar with the negotiations told the South Sudan News Agency.

The official, who demanded his identity be concealed, because of the sensitivity of the talks, additionally revealed that France-based oil and gas company Total SA and London-based Tullow Oil Plc have also shown interest in buying stakes of the untapped reserves, All East Africa informed.

According to the source, the government is pleased with the fact that Western oil companies are returning to South Sudan. “The government is working day and night to make sure these corporations are awarded stakes in our oil deposits,” the official added.

ExxonMobil, once led by the current United States’ Secretary of State, Rex W. Tillerson, ended oil exploration in 2014 after the civil war broke out.

The source further disclosed that “around the clock negotiations” between South Sudanese Petroleum Minister, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, and oil and gas companies are ongoing and that Juba expects “positive outcomes” from the talks.