Technology and Petroleum Exhaustion: Evidence from Two Mega-Oilfields
Abstract. In this paper we use results from the Hotelling model of non-renewable resources to examine the hypothesis that technology may increase petroleum reserves. We present empirical evidence from two well-documented mega-oilfields: the Forties in the North Sea and the Yates in West Texas. Patterns of depletion in these two fields suggest that when a resource is finite, technological improvements do increase supply temporarily. But in these two fields, the effect of new technology was to increase the rate of depletion without altering the fields' ultimate recovery - in line with Hotelling's predictions. Our results imply that temporary low prices may be misleading indicators of future resource scarcity and call into question the future ability of current mega-oilfields to meet a sharp increase in oil demand.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics in its series Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics with number 0512.
Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision: Apr 2006
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- O13 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
- Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
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