IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Can U.S. oil production survive the 20th century?


  • Russell L. Lamb
  • Chad R. Wilkerson


The plunge in world oil prices has brought further difficulties to U.S. oil production, which has been declining in recent years. At the current low prices, most domestic oil wells are not profitable. This calls into question the long-run viability of oil production in the United States. Whether oil production remains a viable part of the U.S. economy in the next century will depend on how long oil prices remain at their current low levels.> Lamb and Wilkerson show how the recent low prices for oil on world markets reflect a combination of demand and supply effects, with both short-run and long-run forces at work. For example, sluggish demand growth reflects both milder weather in some parts of the world (a short-run phenomenon) and the impacts of the Asian financial crisis, which could persist for some time. Meanwhile, supply has mushroomed, in part due to the short-run effect of Iraq's return to higher levels of oil production. In the main, however, the increase in supply reflects sharp declines in the cost of discovering and extracting oil reserves. On balance, the current low prices appear to be mainly the result of longer run demand and supply forces, suggesting that prices are likely to remain low for some time to come. If world oil prices do remain low, U.S. oil is unlikely to be competitive in world markets. Therefore, the domestic oil sector is likely to continue to lose market share for the foreseeable future.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell L. Lamb & Chad R. Wilkerson, 1999. "Can U.S. oil production survive the 20th century?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q I, pages 51-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:1999:i:qi:p:51-62:n:v.84no.1

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lawrence H. Summers, 1991. "Panel discussion: price stability ; How should long-term monetary policy be determined?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 625-631.
    2. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
    3. Matthew D. Shapiro & David W. Wilcox, 1996. "Mismeasurement in the Consumer Price Index: An Evaluation," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 93-154 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Summers, Lawrence, 1991. "How Should Long-Term Monetary Policy Be Determined? Panel Discussion," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 625-631, August.
    5. Alexander L. Wolman, 1998. "Staggered price setting and the zero bound on nominal interest rates," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 1-24.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Petroleum industry and trade ; Prices;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:1999:i:qi:p:51-62:n:v.84no.1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (LDayrit). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.