Discussion paper

DP10304 The Impact of the Shale Oil Revolution on U.S. Oil and Gasoline Prices

This article examines how the shale oil revolution has shaped the evolution of U.S. crude oil and gasoline prices. It puts the evolution of shale oil production into historical perspective, highlights uncertainties about future shale oil production, and cautions against the view that the U.S. may become the next Saudi Arabia. It then reviews the role of the ban on U.S. crude oil exports, of capacity constraints in refining and transporting crude oil, of differences in the quality of conventional and unconventional crude oil, and of the recent regional fragmentation of the global market for crude oil for the determination of U.S. oil and gasoline prices. It discusses the reasons for the persistent wedge between U.S. crude oil prices and global crude oil prices in recent years and for the fact that domestic oil prices below global levels need not translate to lower U.S. gasoline prices. It explains why the shale oil revolution unlike the shale gas revolution is unlikely to stimulate a boom in oil-intensive manufacturing industries. It also explores the implications of shale oil production for the transmission of oil price shocks to the U.S. economy.


Kilian, L (2014), ‘DP10304 The Impact of the Shale Oil Revolution on U.S. Oil and Gasoline Prices‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 10304. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10304