Oil Search Ltd and the participants in the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project have signed a commercial agreement ahead of an expected decision on front end engineering and design.
The joint operating agreement outlines the rights and obligations for the project participants, including all commercial aspects of the project.
Oil Search managing director, Peter Botten, said in a statement the agreement paves the way to progress into the front end engineering and design phase of the project, subject to the conclusion of a gas agreement with the PNG government.
ExxonMobil is the operator and largest stakeholder in the project with a 41-point-6 percent stake, while Oil Search holds 34-point-1 percent and Santos Ltd holds 17-point-7 percent.
Australia's largest power retailer AGL Energy Ltd and Nippon Oil hold less than 10 percent between them.
The LNG project aims to commercialise a number of fields in the Southern Highlands and Western Provinces of PNG, which will be treated and then piped to a storage facility 20 kilometres north-west of Port Moresby.