CASH-rich Bowleven has been inundated with calls from investment bankers trying to sell it oil and gas assets as the crude price plunge triggers cut price deals.

The Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm put itself in a strong position in March when it completed a $250m stake sale in Cameroon.

The deal to sell part of the Etinde permit was agreed in June last year, shortly before the crude price started tumbling amid plentiful supplies and muted demand.

The price fall has left many oil and gas firms facing challenges as they try to service hefty borrowings or to raise funds for exploration work. Investment bankers could generate fees by brokering deals between firms that have cash and those that want more.

In March Bowleven’s chief executive, Kevin Hart, said the firm had been presented with a range of acquisition opportunities by investment bankers within days of completing the deal.

Chief financial officer Kerry Crawford said yesterday the flow of calls has got stronger in recent weeks.

” I would say we are probably getting even more,” she said, adding: “In March the oil price had not long fallen off a cliff and it’s obviously been a sustained period and therefore I think more opportunities are crossing our decks.”

North Sea veterans have said the crude price fall has encouraged firms that want to sell assets to lower their price expectations.

Ms Crawford declined to give details but said Bowleven has been presented with a range of opportunities to buy assets and to take stakes in licences held by other firms.

Aim-listed Bowleven appears to be considering some.

“In the current environment there are opportunities that we are looking at,” said Ms Crawford.

She added: “We will look at opportunities that fit our DNA. Our DNA is obviously Africa and it’s onshore. We have said before we wouldn’t go into deep water.”

Ms Crawford’s comments highlight the marked improvement in the fortunes of Bowleven, which has faced obstacles in its attempts to develop the finds made on its acreage in West Africa.

In December 2008 an analyst said Bowleven was effectively dead in the water because of the challenges it faced raising funding amid volatility at the time in oil and gas and financial markets.

After the company managed to secure the funds needed to continue fairly limited exploration and development activity in Cameroon, the deal agreed in June last year provided a new lease of life.

Bowleven agreed to sell the bulk of its share in the Etinde permit to Russia’s Lukoil and New Age of Cameroon for $250m in total. It has received $170m cash so far.

The company had $120m (£79.5m) cash at 31 October and no debt.

Shares in Bowleven closed down 1p at 24.75p yesterday, leaving it with a market capitalisation of around £80m.

Mr Hart said: “Following completion of the Etinde farm-out we are well positioned with a strong financial foundation to deliver on our strategic objectives.”

Bowleven retains a 20 per cent interest in Etinde, which it hopes could become a significant producing asset.

Lukoil and New Age will cover $40m of Bowleven’s costs on a drilling campaign the company believes could result in a big increase in the estimates of the volume of resources on Etinde.

They will pay the remaining $40m of the purchase price in stages.

Bowleven recently made two finds with wells it drilled onshore in Cameroon, where the company hopes to be able to sell gas for use in power generation.

The company is in the early stages of exploration work in Kenya and Zambia.

It has hit problems in Kenya.

Seismic survey work was delayed amid security concerns.

The company said the Bowleven Kenya operation it established with oil and gas entrepreneur Ian Suttie’s First Oil to work in Kenya is in dispute with the operator Adamantine over the venture’s title to its interest. “Bowleven Kenya has taken legal advice which strongly supports the Group’s view that there is no legal basis for such a challenge,” the company said.

Bowleven lost $90m in the year to 30 June, compared with $13.6m in the preceding year.

The company provided $76m against the value of its Etinde interests in the first half to reflect the fall in the crude price.