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Petroleum Prospect Valuation: The Option to Drill Again


  • James L. Smith


We examine the value of an exploration prospect that is to be exploited via a series of possibly dependent trials. Failure on any particular trial is assumed to convey bad news, but also provides an option to try again. The pattern and strength of dependence among trials determines the value of this option, and therefore also influences the value of the underlying prospect. We describe the solution to this valuation problem, examine the behavior of the option premium, and characterize potential errors that are inherent in two ad hoc procedures that are often used to estimate prospect value. We demonstrate that the impact of dependence among trials is monotonic: each increase in the degree of dependence results in a further reduction in expected value of the prospect. We also characterize the particular pattern of dependence that is implied by a plausible model of exploratory risk.

Suggested Citation

  • James L. Smith, 2005. "Petroleum Prospect Valuation: The Option to Drill Again," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 53-68.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2005v26-04-a04

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    Cited by:

    1. Niall Farrell, Mel T. Devine, William T. Lee, James P. Gleeson, and Sean Lyons, 2017. "Specifying An Efficient Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    2. Reynolds, Douglas B. & Baek, Jungho, 2012. "Much ado about Hotelling: Beware the ides of Hubbert," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 162-170.
    3. Szklo, Alexandre & Machado, Giovani & Schaeffer, Roberto, 2007. "Future oil production in Brazil--Estimates based on a Hubbert model," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2360-2367, April.
    4. 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.
    5. Smith, James L., 2014. "A parsimonious model of tax avoidance and distortions in petroleum exploration and development," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 140-157.
    6. Chavez-Rodriguez, Mauro F. & Szklo, Alexandre & de Lucena, Andre Frossard Pereira, 2015. "Analysis of past and future oil production in Peru under a Hubbert approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 140-151.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General


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