This paper compares two organizational modes for extracting oil from a common pool: unitization and competitive extraction. The analysis suggests that the general presumption that unitization is surplus enhancing relative to competitive extraction may not always be valid due to contractual incompleteness associated with unitization contracts. While competitive extraction suffers from the tragedy of the commons, unitization can be subject to the dual tragedy of the anticommons. This provides an explanation for the puzzle confronting the oil industry that firms are often reluctant to voluntarily enter unitization agreements.
Field of Research
140209 Industry Economics and Industrial Organisation