Regulation Games Between Government and Competing Companies: Oil Spills and Other Disasters

Publication Type: 
Jun Zhuang
May Cheung
Oil spills are a characteristic risk of oil drilling and production. There are safety regulations set to reduce the risk of technological failures and human error. It is the oil company’s decision to follow such laws and the government’s decision to enforce them. Companies are balancing between safety efforts and production competition with other companies. To our knowledge, no previous research has considered the impact of competition in a government–company regulatory game. This paper fills the gap by modeling and comparing two games: a one-company game without competition and a two-company game with competition, both with the government as a regulator. The objectives of all players are to maximize their expected revenue and minimize their losses. Our results indicate that competition increases a company’s threshold for risk and therefore requires stricter government regulation. These results could be generalized and applied to other industries including airline, nuclear power, and coal mining.