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How Best to Auction Natural Resources



I study the design of auctions of natural resources, such as oil or mineral rights. A good auction design promotes both an efficient assignment of rights and competitive revenues for the seller. The structure of bidder preferences and the degree of competition are key factors in determining the best design. With weak competition and simple value structures, a simultaneous first-price sealed-bid auction may suffice. With more complex value structures, a dynamic auction with package bids likely is needed to promote efficiency and revenue objectives. Bidding on production shares, rather than bonuses, typically increases government take by reducing oil or mining company risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Cramton, 2009. "How Best to Auction Natural Resources," Papers of Peter Cramton 09anr, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:pcc:pccumd:09anr

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. DavidJ. Cooper & Hanming Fang, 2008. "Understanding Overbidding In Second Price Auctions: An Experimental Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(532), pages 1572-1595, October.
    2. Ausubel, Lawrence M. & Cramton, Peter, 2010. "Virtual power plant auctions," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 201-208, December.
    3. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Quantal Response Equilibrium and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 247-272, May.
    4. Vincent P. Crawford & Nagore Iriberri, 2007. "Level-k Auctions: Can a Nonequilibrium Model of Strategic Thinking Explain the Winner's Curse and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(6), pages 1721-1770, November.
    5. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton & Emel Filiz-Ozbay & Nathaniel Higgins & Erkut Ozbay & Andrew Stocking, 2009. "Common-Value Auctions with Liquidity Needs: An Experimental Test of a Troubled Assets Reverse Auction," Papers of Peter Cramton 09cvawln, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 2012.
    6. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 2001. "Behavior in Multi-unit Demand Auctions: Experiments with Uniform Price and Dynamic Vickrey Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(2), pages 413-454, March.
    7. Coppinger, Vicki M & Smith, Vernon L & Titus, Jon A, 1980. "Incentives and Behavior in English, Dutch and Sealed-Bid Auctions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(1), pages 1-22, January.
    8. Kagel, John H & Harstad, Ronald M & Levin, Dan, 1987. "Information Impact and Allocation Rules in Auctions with Affiliated Private Values: A Laboratory Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1275-1304, November.
    9. Peter Cramton & Pacharasut Sujarittanonta, 2010. "Pricing Rule in a Clock Auction," Decision Analysis, INFORMS, vol. 7(1), pages 40-57, March.
    10. Kagel, John H & Levin, Dan, 1993. "Independent Private Value Auctions: Bidder Behaviour in First-, Second- and Third-Price Auctions with Varying Numbers of Bidders," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 868-879, July.
    11. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    12. Lawrence M. Ausubel & Peter Cramton, 2004. "Auctioning Many Divisible Goods," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 480-493, 04/05.
    13. Lange, Andreas & Ratan, Anmol, 2010. "Multi-dimensional reference-dependent preferences in sealed-bid auctions - How (most) laboratory experiments differ from the field," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 634-645, March.
    14. Richard Engelbrecht-Wiggans & Elena Katok, 2007. "Regret in auctions: theory and evidence," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 81-101, October.
    15. Cox, James C & Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1988. "Theory and Individual Behavior of First-Price Auctions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 61-99, March.
    16. Emel Filiz-Ozbay & Erkut Y. Ozbay, 2007. "Auctions with Anticipated Regret: Theory and Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1407-1418, September.
    17. Ronald Harstad, 2000. "Dominant Strategy Adoption and Bidders' Experience with Pricing Rules," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(3), pages 261-280, December.
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    1. How to best auction natural resources
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-05-15 05:03:00


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    Cited by:

    1. del Río, Pablo & Linares, Pedro, 2014. "Back to the future? Rethinking auctions for renewable electricity support," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 42-56.
    2. Martin F. Quaas & Ralph Winkler, 2017. "A Market Mechanism for Sustainable and Efficient Resource Use under Uncertainty," CESifo Working Paper Series 6524, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Abhishek, Vineet & Hajek, Bruce & Williams, Steven R., 2013. "Auctions with a profit sharing contract," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 247-270.

    More about this item


    Auctions; natural resource auctions; oil auctions;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions

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    1. Economic Logic blog


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