HONG KONG ( TheStreet) -- Chinese state-owned oil company Cnooc ( CEO) said Sunday it is paying $3.1 billion to form a joint venture with a unit of Argentina's Bridas Energy Holdings. The two companies will hold equal stakes in the unit when the transaction is completed, Cnooc said in a news release announcing the deal. Currently the Bridas unit in which Cnooc will take a stake explores for and produces gas and oil in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. The unit holds a 40% stake in Pan American Energy, while BP ( BP) owns the other 60%. > > Bull or Bear? Vote in Our Poll Cnooc's chairman and CEO, Fu Chengyu, was quoted saying, "This joint venture is aligned with our philosophy of seeking partnerships to expand our global footprints."