China National Offshore Oil Corp in venture with Bridas Energy Holdings

CHINA National Offshore Oil Corp, China’s biggest offshore oil explorer, plans a joint venture with Argenina’s Bridas Energy Holdings, paying $3.1bn (£2.04bn) to take a 50 per cent stake in a subsidiary, Bridas Corporation, the company said yesterday.

Bridas Corp, which is currently wholly-owned by Bridas Energy, will become equally owned by the partners and could have its name changed once the transaction is completed, CNOOC said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

“Bridas, with a world-class oil and gas asset portfolio, is a very good beachhead for us to enter Latin America,” said Yang Hua, CNOOC’s president, in a separate statement.

Bridas Corp holds a 40 per cent stake in Pan American Energy, a hydrocarbons producer 60 per cent controlled by the UK-based oil major BP.

Bridas Corp had proven reserves of 636m barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) and an average daily production of 92,000 boe at the end of 2009, CNOOC said in its statement.

The new joint venture company will have exploration and production activities in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

The partners say they expect to complete the deal in the first half of this year.
CNOOC has been a noticeable absentee from overseas M&A since it paid $2.7bn for a stake in French oil major Total’s African Akpo field in 2006.

A year earlier it was bumped by a US political backlash from buying US-based oil company Unocal.