Institutions, to Property Rights, to High-Technology Gas Markets

Thu Oct 26 15:05:16 EDT 2017
By Dr. Jeff D. Makholm

NERA Managing Director Dr. Jeff D. Makholm authored “Institutions, to Property Rights, to High-Technology Gas Markets,” which examines the high-technology natural gas market in the United States. The US natural gas market is one of the best examples of where institutions and new property rights have led to new and efficient markets. Competitively produced and transported natural gas has collectively displaced imports and boosted energy security, reduced coal-fired generation, helped consumers lower energy bills, and helped to meet climate change remediation targets. But it is also an example of extreme path-dependence, showing how hard it is to translate successfully such institutions and property rights to similar energy problems in other parts of the world that do not share the century-old US institutional foundation. Europe in particular has shown stubborn resistance to embracing the institutions that support unregulated energy markets based on property rights. The results of such varied institutional foundations is an uncompetitive gas industry with prices two to three times those in North America, pulling gas out of the generation merit order (relative to coal) and effectively eliminating any entry of unconventional gas production. Dr. Makholm presented his paper at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) Workshop in Bozeman, MT, on 3 August 2017.