A Papua New Guinea energy partnership has given an American firm a key design contract for a pipeline to carry gas to Australia.
Oil Search and ExxonMobil have awarded the company Eos the contract as part of the US$3.3 billion pipeline project.
A decision to proceed with construction of the project hinges on the outcome of the work, which is known as a front end engineering and design study.
The designers would include about 40 staff from ExxonMobil and the other project owners, and up to a hundred and 20 personnel from Eos.
The team is to start work in Brisbane and Port Moresby by next month.
ExxonMobil and Oil Search, along with their smaller partners, plan to source gas from in PNG's Southern Highlands and pipe it to Australia's east coast.