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Forecasting Ultimate Oil Recovery and Its Rate of Production: Incorporating Economic Forces into the Models of M. King Hubbert

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  • Cutter J. Cleveland
  • Robert K. Kaufmann

Abstract

Dwindling production of oil from domestic fields and rising consumption have increased U.S. dependence on imported oil to an all-time high. Concern about the effect of this dependence on economic and national security has focused attention on the domestic resource base: how much oil awaits discovery and at what rate can it be produced? We analyze the adequacy of domestic resources by updating and modifying in important new ways the models of discovery and production developed by M. King Hubbert. Hubbert's models have been a lightning rod for debate about the future of oil resources because they have been the most accurate on record. When we include real oil prices and the annual rate of drilling effort in Hubbert's model of oil discovery, there is no evidence for claims that the secular decline in discoveries per foot of well drilled has been arrested or reversed in the lower forty-eight states. Our results indicate that there is little oil waiting to be found in unexplored sedimentary formations in the lower forty-eight states using conventional exploration techniques. Furthermore, we show that the declining quality of the resource base has offset the positive stimuli of price increases and changes in government policy towards a free market. Having passed through a period in which production in the lower forty-eight states fell 20 percent while real oil prices tripled there seems little that the U.S. government can do to alter the bottom line for domestic operators so that U.S. production can displace imports to a significant degree. We conclude that the conventional supply side offers little room to manoeuvre around increased dependence on imported oil.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Association for Energy Economics in its journal The Energy Journal.

Volume (Year): Volume 12 (1991)
Issue (Month): Number 2 ()
Pages: 17-46

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Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:1991v12-02-a03

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Cited by:
  1. Pesaran, M. Hashem & Samiei, Hossein, 1995. "Forecasting ultimate resource recovery," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 543-555, December.
  2. Reynolds, Douglas B. & Pippenger, Michael K., 2010. "OPEC and Venezuelan oil production: Evidence against a cartel hypothesis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 6045-6055, October.
  3. Kaufmann, Robert K., 1995. "A model of the world oil market for project LINK Integrating economics, geology and politics," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 165-178, April.
  4. Reynolds, Douglas B., 1999. "The mineral economy: how prices and costs can falsely signal decreasing scarcity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 155-166, October.
  5. Watkins, G.C., 2006. "Oil scarcity: What have the past three decades revealed?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 508-514, March.
  6. Dahl, Carol & Duggan, Thomas E., 1998. "Survey of price elasticities from economic exploration models of US oil and gas supply," Journal of Energy Finance & Development, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 129-169.
  7. ten Cate, Arie & Mulder, Machiel, 2007. "Impact of the oil price and fiscal facilities on offshore mining at the Dutch Continental Shelf," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5601-5613, November.
  8. Mohn, Klaus, 2009. "Elastic Oil. A primer on the economics of exploration and production," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2009/10, University of Stavanger.
  9. Managi, Shunsuke & Opaluch, James J. & Jin, Di & Grigalunas, Thomas A., 2005. "Technological change and petroleum exploration in the Gulf of Mexico," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 619-632, March.
  10. Farzin, Y. H., 2001. "The impact of oil price on additions to US proven reserves," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 271-292, July.
  11. Reynolds, Douglas B. & Baek, Jungho, 2012. "Much ado about Hotelling: Beware the ides of Hubbert," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 162-170.
  12. Iledare, Omowumi O., 1995. "Simulating the effect of economic and policy incentives on natural gas drilling and gross reserve additions," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 261-279, November.
  13. Krautkraemer, Jeffrey, 2005. "Economics of Natural Resource Scarcity: The State of the Debate," Discussion Papers dp-05-14, Resources For the Future.
  14. Reynolds, Douglas B., 2013. "Uncertainty in exhaustible natural resource economics: The irreversible sunk costs of Hotelling," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 532-541.
  15. Kaiser, Mark J. & Mesyanzhinov, Dmitry V. & Pulsipher, Allan G., 2004. "Long-term infrastructure forecasting in the Gulf of Mexico: a decision- and resource-based approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1209-1224, July.

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