Enduring feedback structure and long-term futures for the upstream oil industry

Morecroft, J (2017) Enduring feedback structure and long-term futures for the upstream oil industry. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 34 (4). pp. 494-509. ISSN 1092-7026 OPEN ACCESS


A fundamental idea in system dynamics is that interdependencies in business and society significantly influence the performance over time of firms and industries. This idea is often summarised in the phrase ‘feedback structure gives rise to dynamic behaviour’. But what if the time horizon of a modelling study spans decades, as is often the case in models of natural resource management? Is it possible to find enduring feedback structures that shape events over such long periods? An example is presented based on a well-known system dynamics model of the upstream oil industry. The model was originally developed in the late 1980s and subsequently updated. The model’s structure is reviewed against the backdrop of recent expansion in U.S. shale oil production. Shale oil is undoubtedly a major technology breakthrough in oil recovery. However this change pales in significance, when seen against the backdrop of strong and enduring feedback processes that coordinate OPEC production. Simulations show that OPEC retains the power to control oil price, dominate global production and drive commercial producers (including frackers) out of the industry. Further simulations test the so-called ‘Saudi America’ hypothesis and reveal that US frackers could not plausibly displace Saudi Arabia as the oil industry’s swing producer.

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Item Type: Article
Subject Areas: Management Science and Operations
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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Morecroft, John D.W. (2017) 'Enduring Feedback Structure and Long-term Futures for the Upstream Oil Industry', Systems Research and Behavioral Science 34 (4) pp. 494-509, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sres.2472 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. © 2017 Wiley

Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 09:15
Date of first compliant deposit: 23 Jun 2017
Subjects: Investment theory
Sustainable development
Oil industry
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2023 01:34
URI: https://lbsresearch.london.edu/id/eprint/817

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