Several African countries have continued to discover new hydrocarbon resources and undertaken licensing rounds while uncertainty around fiscal terms and the slow progress in implementing key oil and gas laws in Nigeria continues to be the major handbrake on the nation’s oil sector growth, Daily Trust reports.

Oil exploration for new hydrocarbon sources in Nigeria continues to be hampered by regulatory uncertainty and delays in passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), specifically. Hopes that Nigeria would hold any licensing round for oil blocks this year are still slim even as about 11 licenses are said to be expiring this year while some have since expired, according to a concession report by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), with little public disclosure about their renewal.

The government had in November 2013 flagged off a marginal fields licensing round. The competitive bid round which was expected to be completed by March 2014, failed to meet the deadline after many other cancellations and postponements of the exercise in the past. Three years after the announcement, the bid round is yet to hold, with the failure of the bid linked to the delay in passing the PIB.

Today, more than two dozen African countries have either found oil on their territories or have begun production in commercial quantity. Amid the volatility of the price of oil, the industry in Africa continues to witness more activity driven by licensing rounds, big capital investments and mergers & acquisitions. UK statistic agency, GlobalData, listed a total of nine petroleum licensing rounds in the world that are due to close this year of which two are in Africa specifically Congo Republic and Egypt while Nigeria was no where to be found.