Monday, March 8, 2010

T. Boone Pickens on Natural Gas

An earlier post noted that a number of major oil companies have made significant moves in recent months to increase their natural gas exposure.

The most notable was ExxonMobil's purchase of XTO Energy, but others have followed as well.

(By the way, in order for the XOM deal to make sense, gas prices have to rise above $8, and they are below $5 now, which obviously reflects XOM view of the future of energy).

A couple of years ago, T. Boone Pickens announced that he was making a major "bet" on wind power in this country. However, after he failed to find sufficient investors in his vision, he seems to have largely abandoned his push into wind power.

Now he has hopped on the natural gas bandwagon, as the interview below describes.

(I thought it was also interesting that the 80 year old Pickens is using Twitter to spread his message):

Keep on Trucking

T. Boone Pickens is more convinced than ever that using natural gas to fuel transportation is the smart way to go

Even in the volatile world of energy markets, T. Boone Pickens has a reputation for being unpredictable. The longtime oilman became an advocate of alternative energy in recent years, with plans for a huge wind farm in the Texas panhandle—plans he's been forced to rethink some.

More recently, he has funded a national media campaign to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and has sponsored legislation in Congress to subsidize trucks that run on natural gas—a less expensive and cleaner fuel than oil, and one that is present in the U.S. in plentiful supply.

He and The Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Ball discussed such matters. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.

JEFFREY BALL: At some point you departed from many of your brethren in the oil industry. What got you launched on this campaign?

T. BOONE PICKENS: I kept seeing people that ran for president, Republican or Democrat, say, "Elect me and we'll be energy-independent."

I thought, really, is this going to just happen? Or do you have a plan? And I blame you, the media, that they never held these people to that remark.

I struggled with it, and my wife had to hear it and hear it and hear it. I woke her up in the middle of the night, and I said, "Madeleine, the American people have to see this, understand it. I'm going to spend some money to explain the story, then I'm going to explain the solution." So, I spent $62 million, and that very simply is the deal. Madeleine did say, "I'm sure you're going to be the one that's going to do this. But let's go back to sleep. Do it in the morning."

Genesis Photos

T. Boone Pickens, Chairman, BP Capital Management.

MR. BALL: It doesn't feel like an acute crisis to most people. You have loads of people following you on Twitter. You have lots of people showing up to your speeches. And yet you're banging your head against a wall on a lot of this stuff.

MR. PICKENS: No, I think I've made good progress. The American people are concerned. I've got 1,627,000 people signed up with me, and I do have a great amount of following, and we've been running focus groups. There's no question that the American people hate it that we import so much of our energy. They are concerned about OPEC. I think I have created that concern, that we're importing five million barrels a day from the enemy. We look stupid doing it.

MR. BALL: Are they willing to pay much more, or are they willing to change their behavior?

MR. PICKENS: It's not more expensive. My plan is cheaper. We only have one resource in America that will replace foreign oil, and that's natural gas.