Essays on Crude Oil Markets and Electricity Access

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In the first chapter I discuss how OPEC's internal costs restrict their ability collude. Where membership in 2007 was anchored by three large, low-cost producers in Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, by 2015 Venezuela and Iran were no longer large producers due to lack of investment and sanctions, respectively. This left Saudi Arabia and Iraq as the only large producers. Using a game theory model, I show that together they did not have the power to enforce quotas among themselves and other OPEC members without Russia's participation. More generally, my model implies that at present, OPEC is unable to enforce quotas without full participation of either Iran or Russia. This situation has been exacerbated, from their perspective, by improved medium- and long-term price responsiveness of non-OPEC crude oil supply, which erodes OPEC market power. However, the model implies that this change in non-OPEC supply is not necessary for destroying OPEC's ability to cartelize. OPEC's current composition has reduced its ability to enforce production quotas among its membership.

Many analysts have suggested that OPEC's role as swing producer will be supplanted by tight oil production from the United States. After exploring this possibility in my second chapter I find that tight oil production has not increased non-OPEC supply's short-term price responsiveness, while demand has simultaneously grown more brittle. This implies OPEC's role as swing producer is more important for stabilizing price now than at any point in the past decade. Yet my first chapter shows they are currently ill-prepared for the task.

The final chapter constructs a measure of the relative success of different countries in providing access to electrical power, which is in turn a critical determinant of energy poverty. Measuring energy poverty indexing is only helpful if it allows us to discern how lagging countries may be able to attain outcomes like their peers. More specifically, I utilize frontier analysis to develop efficiency ratings in meeting electricity demand that highlight inputs countries are not using efficiently to that end. Charts in the chapter compare 71 countries' existing infrastructure relative to their electrification rates. The Data Envelopment Analysis employed allows comparison between an inefficient country and a group of it economic peers. Additionally, it shows how far from the frontier an under performing country is in each type of input, tracks progress over years and puts bootstrapped confidence intervals on all point estimates.

Doctor of Philosophy
Crude Oil, Market Power, Energy Poverty, Industrial Organization, Energy, Game Theory

Volkmar, Peter. "Essays on Crude Oil Markets and Electricity Access." (2019) Diss., Rice University.

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