It's second hand but I think I'm slowly getting a feel for how Planetary Interaction (PI) is going to work out. It looks like as I suspected there IS an isk sink that will establish a floor value on all the products that are extracted and processed using PI. From the comments on mechanics and whines on the various threads, it looks like the deposits you plunk an extractor down on are limited and once they run out they run out and you need to de-commission the extractor and plunk a new one down.
This implies that extractors will be an ongoing expense for your PI operations. So the "cost" of the raw materials will be the volume of the resource you were able to extract from the specific site divided by the cost of the extractor. Plus any pro-rated portion of the rest of your operation. Plus the hassle of moving the end product to market.
The interesting thing is whether the population density in high sec will cut the potential RATE of resource extraction or the total VOLUME available to extract (so if 6 guys go after the same concentration, then they each get 1/6 of the available material.
I'm also assuming that concentrations will change over time, so areas that have resources will deplete, then other areas without will increase and then over time old areas will get "good" again. This leads us to possible long term strategies: leave the extractor "fallow" for a while and it will eventually start producing again or keep recycling the extractors always going for the best concentration. The first technique will eventually get you very "cheap" materials, the second qill get you larger quantities in shorter periods of time, but much more expensive materials. Not to mention much more micromanagement.
As much as the whiny pirates are going to whine about how this does not help low sec, IT DOES. Look it's simple: The guys in high sec are going to discover that their extraction costs per material are probably going to be higher than low sec or 0.0 (which includes w-space in this case). CCP has stated that the concentrations of materials is going to go up as you go down in sec status. So High sec will have the "worse" planets and 0.0 the "best" with low sec somewhere in between. Then there is the "population concentration" issue. 75% of pilots (as I recall) log off in high sec. There are what about 1000 systems in high sec vs 4000 for low and 0.0? Something like that (rough estimate) Not to mention the systems in w-space. It is entirely possible that the "extraction cost" will get prohibitive in high sec. This means people wanting to get MORE isk out of PI will want to go to riskier space. And when you want to get the stuff you need to fly TO the planets. This means more haulers and what not in low sec. And the less frequented the system, the more likely that PI guys will want to setup in there.
It will be interesting to see what strategies evolve. But I can definitely see that we're going to have the "patient but low cost" vs the "impatient but expensive" playing out here. Then there are the people who are speculating with NPC goods atm in preparation for the supply shutting down and the players taking up the slack. The situation price wise should be in flux for the next few months as both the PI supply stabilizes (people get into it then move out of it as they find it "boring").
Also it looks like CCP is going to shuffle the planets on May 18th. This means that people trying to stake out systems before the 18th may end up with crap instead of the gold mine they were expecting. I will be laughing my ass off if this turns out to be the case. Expect more conflict starting the 18th if the planets get shuffled.
Based on the timing and the incoming 3 new skills I've decided to change up my plans a little. Once I finish Energy Management V I'm going to do Shield Management 5 (which will give me tech 2 shield boost amplifiers finally). This should finish right up around the 18th, so I'll be perfectly placed to skill up the incoming 3 new skills, then once they are in a "usable" state it'll be off to re-spec and into the massive T2 BS weapons plan (250days+)... What fun...