Exxon Mobil, working on behalf of the Marine Well Containment Co., awarded French engineering company Technip a design contract for underwater well-containment equipment.
Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell formed MWCC in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The well-containment system will be designed for water depths of up to 10,000 feet and have the ability to contain 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
British energy company BP was able to control the spill which began in April, in July using a containment system before engineers eventually intercepted the broken well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, killing the well on Sept. 19.
Lloyd Guillory, the executive in charge of the containment system, said the contract is a sign the project was moving forward.
"We are on schedule to develop this specialized containment equipment that will significantly increase the industry's response capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico," he said in a statement.
The containment system could be developed as early as next year.