BEIJING (AP) - Chinese state-owned oil producer Sinopec has expanded its Middle East presence with the $3.1 billion purchase of a stake in an Egyptian oil and gas production operation.

BEIJING (AP) Chinese state-owned oil producer Sinopec has expanded its Middle East presence with the $3.1 billion purchase of a stake in an Egyptian oil and gas production operation.

U.S.-based Apache Corp. said Friday it will sell a 33 percent stake in its Egypt operation to Sinopec as the first step in forming a global partnership to pursue oil and gas projects.

China's state-owned oil industry, flush with cash from the country's economic boom, is buying minority stakes or outright control of oil and gas fields in the Middle East and elsewhere to profit from future global demand.

Apache said the agreement covers oil and gas production assets in Egypt's Western Desert. It said the area is remote and unpopulated and has not been affected by political developments in Egypt.