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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The effect of biofuel on the international oil market


This paper derives a method to quantify the impact of biofuel on fuel markets, assuming that these markets are dominated by cartel of oil-rich countries, and that prices in these countries are set to maximize the sum of domestic consumer and producer surplus, leading to a wedge between domestic and international fuel prices. We model this behavior by applying the optimal export tax model (henceforth, the cartel-of-nations model) to the fuel markets. Using data from 2007 to calibrate the model, we show that the introduction of biofuels reduces global fossil fuel consumption and international fuel prices by about 1% and 2%, respectively. We identify large differences between the effects of introducing biofuels using the cartel-of-nations model, in contrast to the competitive or the standard cartel model (henceforth, the cartel-of-�firms model). Given that the cartel-of-nations model correctly captures fuel markets, we illustrate that assessing the effect of introducing biofuels under a competitive fuel markets overestimates the reduction in fuel price, and underestimates the reduction of fossil fuel consumption, and therefore the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Similar conclusions are derived with respect to cartel-of-�firms model. Finally, we illustrate that a 20% increase in fuel demand more than doubles the impact of biofuels on fuel markets.

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