BOWLEVEN has extended the deadline for the completion of a $250 million (£160m) stake sale in Cameroon for a third time pending approval of the deal by the country's president.

The Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm said the parties to the deal have agreed to extend the longstop date for completion to 28 February next year, from 31 December 2014.

The deal to sell a total 50 per cent interest in the Etinde permit to Cameroon's New Age and Russia's LUKOIL was agreed in June and originally due to complete on 31 August.

Bowleven expects to use the proceeds of the deal to increase activity in Cameroon and elsewhere.

The deadline for completion was previously extended to 31 October and then 31 December while the companies waited for President Biya of Cameroon to sign the decree required for formal completion.

Yesterday Bowleven said: "The formal decree award is being progressed by the Cameroon Authorities and it is understood that the Presidential signature is imminent. As such, while the formal gazetting of the decree remains achievable by 31 December 2014, all parties to the farm-out have agreed to an extension to the longstop date to 28 February 2015 to allow additional time if required."

In November Bowleven's chief executive Kevin Hart said of the president's sign off: "It very much is a when as opposed to an if."

Cameroon's ministry of mines has approved the deal, which will result in operatorship of the Etinde permit passing to New Age.

At Bowleven's general meeting last week the company's chairman Ronnie Hanna said he was in almost hourly telephone contact with Chief Tabetando, a lawyer from Cameroon who has been on Bowleven's board since 2001, about the approval process for the stake sale.

He said the company had been planning how to respond if President Biya does not approve the sale by the year end.

On completion of the farm-out deal, New Age will increase its holding in the Etinde permit to 37.5 per cent from 25 per cent.

LUKOIL will acquire 37.5 per cent. Bowleven's holding in Etinde will fall from 75 per cent to 25 per cent.

Bowleven shareholders approved the deal in July.