Quentin Bell, the owner of a small oil extraction firm, BE Oil, owns the rights to drill on six different wells. Drilling requires substantial up-front costs, and each well has different drilling costs and production capability. Bell's challenge is to decide which wells to drill based on his expectation of the price of oil when it is extracted.
The case was written for use in Darden's global economies and markets (GEM) core course during a class on the economics of competitive markets. The concepts of supply, demand, and equilibrium are often obscure to students at this early stage in the course, and this case provides a concrete example of how a firm in a competitive commodity market determines how much oil to produce. Students are asked to derive the firm's supply curve, relate that to the oil market supply curve, and ultimately recommend how much oil the firm should plan to produce. The plan pushes students to think about marginal cost/ marginal benefit analysis, implicitly at first and explicitly at the end of class. Students are also asked to consider how exogenous variables in the oil market affect the oil price and the firm's decision.