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Thursday, 15 January 2015, 6 p.m., Edinburgh
Price Volatility, Investment Decisions, and Future Energy

Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics, University of Edinburgh

Sponsorship is provided by and Wood Mackenzie.Scottish Oil Club (Students),

This event occurred on: Thursday, 15 January 2015, 6 p.m.

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Funding for student participation from member universities provided by Scottish Oil Club.


Substantial price volatility is a characteristic of most natural resource markets. The oil market is now going through one of its periodic downturns. Equally, it is certain that prices will recover in future and public discussion will focus instead on the prospect of a world with permanently higher – and increasing – energy prices. This cycle is both predictable in general terms but unpredictable in timing and magnitude.

The talk will provide an overview of long term price volatility in energy markets against the background of innovation and structural change associated with the role of emerging markets. It will review how investment decisions may – or should – be affected by taking account of both the scale and unpredictability of future cycles in energy prices.

This prompts questions about whether and how current energy policies should be adapted to allow for future price volatility. Two issues are particularly important: (i) the design of policies and contracts to promote low carbon sources of energy, and (ii) the structure of the tax system applied to exploitation of different sources of energy including conventional and unconventional oil and gas.


Gordon Hughes has been a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh since 1985. He spent 10 years as Senior Adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Since returning to the UK, he has advised a range of public and private organisations on regulatory, economic and environmental policies in the energy sector. Gordon A. Hughes's main fields of interest are natural resources, environmental economics and public economics.

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