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Price Elasticity of Supply and Productivity: An Analysis of Natural Gas Wells in Wyoming

Using a large dataset of well-level natural gas production from Wyoming, we evaluate the respective roles played by market signals and geological characteristics in natural gas supply. While we find well-level production of natural gas is primarily determined by geological characteristics, producers respond to market signals through drilling rates and locations. Using a novel fixed effects approach based on petroleum-engineering characteristics, we confirm that production decline rates tend to be larger for wells with larger peak-production rates. We also find that the price elasticity of peak production is negative, plausibly because firms drill in less productive locations as prices increase. Finally, we show that drilling is price inelastic, although the price elasticity of drilling increased significantly when new technologies began to be adopted in Wyoming. Our results indicate that the popular view that shale wells have larger decline rates than conventional wells can be at least partially explained by the pattern of falling natural gas prices.

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Energy Specializations: Natural Gas – Exploration and Production; Natural Gas – Markets and Prices

JEL Codes: L71: Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels, Q38: Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation: Government Policy, Q35: Hydrocarbon Resources, D24: Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q42: Alternative Energy Sources, D22: Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis, Q24: Renewable Resources and Conservation: Land

Keywords: Natural gas, fracking, decline curve

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.39.SI1.cmas

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Published in Volume 39, Special Issue 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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