Resource Extraction with a Carbon Tax and Regime Switching Prices

47 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2013 Last revised: 15 Jun 2018

See all articles by Margaret C. Insley

Margaret C. Insley

University of Waterloo - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 10, 2017


This paper develops a model of a profit maximizing firm with the option to exploit a non-renewable resource, choosing the timing and pace of development. The resource price is modelled as a regime switching process, which is calibrated to oil futures prices. A Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation is specified that describes the profit maximization decision of the firm. The model is applied to a problem of optimal investment in a typical oils sands in situ operation, and solved for critical levels of oil prices that would motivate a firm to make the large scale investment needed for oil sands extraction, as well to operate, mothball or abandon the facility. Regime shifts can have an important effect on the optimal timing of investment and extraction. The paper examines the effect of several carbon tax schemes on optimal timing of construction, production and abandonment. A form of Green Paradox is identified.

Keywords: non-renewable natural resources, oil sands, optimal control, HJB equation, carbon tax, regime switching

JEL Classification: Q30, Q40, C61, C63

Suggested Citation

Insley, Margaret C., Resource Extraction with a Carbon Tax and Regime Switching Prices (July 10, 2017). Energy Economics, Vol 67, September 2018, DOI:10.1016/j.eneco.2017.07.013, Available at SSRN: or

Margaret C. Insley (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - Department of Economics ( email )

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Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
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