Energy Policy, Vol 119, 2018, pp. 41-50.
Russia is estimated to hold the world's largest technically recoverable shale-oil resources. The purpose of the article is to assess whether fundamental conditions for sustainable, profitable production of unconventional oil are in place. Compared to the successful development of unconventional oil in the USA, Russia has several disadvantages. The Russian oil sector is dominated by big companies without the flexibility in methods and decision-making required in very heterogeneous unconventional projects. Infrastructure is less accessible in Russia than in most American projects. On a more fundamental level the relatively poor condition of geological data collections is a serious cost increasing factor, and the system for development and dispersion of new technologies has critical shortcomings. Russia lacks appreciation of risk taking and a corresponding regulatory framework, as well as relevant financial mechanisms. Nevertheless, government documents almost exclusively focus on technology as such as well as on taxation and tax benefits as preconditions for successful development. Without addressing the fundamental institutional problems, the potential for exploiting the resources base will be limited.