New Delhi: India and Russia on Saturday assigned their respective domestic companies—Engineers India Ltd and Gazprom PJSC—to jointly study and prepare a blueprint for laying a gas pipeline between the two countries, said an oil ministry statement in New Delhi.

The move is part of India’s plan to enhance the use of natural gas in its energy mix and to increase trade with Russia, for which an international North-South transport corridor is also under implementation.

“The companies will examine whether the pipeline between the countries could pass through either China or through the Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet republics)," said a government official, who asked not to be named. Gazprom owns the world’s largest gas transmission system with a total length of 171,200km.

The statement said the governments also signed two other deals in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Goa, where the 17th India-Russia Annual Summit took place on Saturday.

Cooperation between the countries in the area of civil nuclear cooperation, sourcing of liquefied natural gas (LNG), partnership in the oil and gas sector and engagement in renewables can construct a promising ‘energy bridge’ between our two countries, the statement said, quoting Prime Minister Modi.

The other two deals signed by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novak on Saturday are for cooperation in the energy sector for 2017-18 and for cooperation in the area of education and training between ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and Rosneft Oil Company PJSC.

Both the countries agreed to further work towards boosting bilateral engagement in the hydrocarbon sector.

“In the last four months alone, in a clear expression of our strong and deep engagement in the Hydrocarbon sector, Indian companies have invested close to $5.5 billion in Russia’s oil and gas sector and, with President Putin’s support, we are ready and willing to expand the scope of our engagement further. We are also undertaking a joint study of a gas pipeline route between our two countries," the statement said quoting Prime Minister Modi.

India has set a target of raising the share of gas in its hydrocarbon consumption from about 7% now to 15% in two-three years as part of its climate change plan.