China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is paying $3.1bn (Â£2bn) for a 50% stake in Argentine oil and gas group Bridas Corporation. CNOOC president Yang Hua said Bridas was "a very good beachhead for us to enter Latin America". Bridas has proven oil reserves of 636 million barrels, with production activities across Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. China's demand for oil is continuing to surge as its economy grows strongly. "The deal is attractive for CNOOC in the sense that it's going to be strongly accretive in terms of reserves and adds to production in the near term," according to Neil Beveridge, senior oil analyst, Sanford Bernstein. The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently said that China's demand for oil jumped 28% in January compared with the same month a year ago, growth the IEA described as "astonishing". Bridas holds a 40% stake in oil business Pan American Energy, which is 60% owned by UK group BP. CNOOC, China's biggest offshore oil explorer, hopes to complete its purchase of a 50% stake in Bridas by the middle of this year.