Regulatory Remedies to the Common Pool: The Limits to Oil Field Unitization

42 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2001

See all articles by James L. Smith

James L. Smith

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gary D. Libecap

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management; University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Date Written: November 1, 2000

Abstract

We examine the potential inability of voluntary unitization to remedy common property losses associated with oil field development. Unlike the traditional literature, we show that if the field contains two (or more) substances that differ in kind (like oil and gas), then it is possible that non-unitized forms of ownership and operation (with conflicted production incentives) may dominate unitized development of the resource. More specifically, it may be impossible to identify any plan of unitized development that is not pareto-dominated by initial endowments or other non-unitized production arrangements which the parties might devise. These results cast the role of the regulatory agency in a new light. Whereas compulsory unitization has tended to be viewed as a uniformly helpful form of outside influence that succeeds by reducing or overcoming the deadweight cost of bargaining, from our perspective it could also be seen as forcing on the parties a "solution" that unavoidably harms one or more of them.

JEL Classification: L5, Q3

Suggested Citation

Smith, James L. and Libecap, Gary D., Regulatory Remedies to the Common Pool: The Limits to Oil Field Unitization (November 1, 2000). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=254952 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.254952

James L. Smith

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Gary D. Libecap (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )

4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States
805-893-8611 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.esm.ucsb.edu/people/usernew.asp?user=glibecap

University of Arizona - Karl Eller Center ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States
520-621-4821 (Phone)
520-626-5269 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bpa.arizona.edu/~libecap

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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