Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Eric Hughson

Rights Information

2018 Alexander Z Huesing


The purpose of this paper is to offer a review of the history of oil in order to build an understanding of the factors that make the commodity innately volatile. Then, we explain the recent development of US shale production, which may threaten to disrupt the status quo in oil markets. In the last decade, markets have endured two price collapses that are historic both in their frequency and individual magnitudes; however, recent volatility has remained low. We hypothesize that the shale revolution in the United States may have played a role in this new trend. Following the tradition of Pindyck (2004), we utilize a GARCH model in order to analyze crude-oil price volatility since 2004. In order to measure the effects of the shale revolution, we leverage a major news shock in August 2013, at which time Pioneer Natural Resources made the single largest announcement of new retrievable shale reserves in history. We find that the news announcement had a positive effect on the conditional variance of oil and a negative effect on daily returns. The limitations of our instrument for shale production constrain our interpretation of these results, preventing any definitive conclusions about shale companies’ possible role as a volatility-reducing swing producers.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.