Sunday, February 10, 2008

Boone Pickens: The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. Boone Pickens shares his views on energy, politics, the Olympics, OSU's new president.


Before 2010, the price for a thousand cubic feet of natural gas will be $10, Boone Pickens predicts. And oil prices will reach $100 a barrel again before the end of this year.

For those and other reasons, Pickens is betting on alternative energy for the future.

"We are importing 62 percent of our oil now, and the two largest producers are Saudi Arabia and Russia,” Pickens said. "And the two largest consumers of oil are ourselves and China.

"When you look at that, you say, ‘We have kind of got ourselves in a bit of a spot that is going to get even more uncomfortable.'”

Pickens said the U.S. will spend trillions of dollars to get the imported oil, and that the nation can't be sure where that money is headed.

"Now, that is a real transfer of wealth. We have got to figure out something different than what we have,” Pickens said.

"Different,” he told The Oklahoman on Tuesday, means using natural gas to power vehicles and wind and solar sources to generate electricity.


"I promise you, natural gas will be a real transportation fuel. If I am successful about what I am doing, it will make a difference in Oklahoma because natural gas will sell at a higher price than it is now for heating homes and for electrical generation,” he said.

He also is busy building what he calls the nation's largest wind farm, capable of generating 4,000 megawatts of power once it comes online. He predicts similar projects could be built between the Texas Panhandle and the U.S.-Canadian border, providing jobs, income and a secure environment for a significant piece of the nation's energy infrastructure.

Power transmission corridors are needed to get the power from the farms to East and West Coast communities, and he said private industry will provide the infrastructure if the government gives it suitable incentives.

"I think that it is very realistic that it can be done,” Pickens said.

He noted that in his Mesa Power project alone he has been approached by 20 potential partners, each of whom has provided studies on the wind farm project at his own expense.

"All of them have a plan for how this can be accomplished,” Pickens said.

"We have not picked any banker and we have not picked any partner,” he quickly added. "It is kind of nice ... I have decided I can get pretty far down the track” before having to make those choices.

Pickens said his company will start buying turbines — from 1,700 to 2,000 — next month at a cost of $200 million to $300 million.

In all, it will cost the company $11 billion to build the field and get its power from the Texas panhandle more than 300 miles south and east into the Texas area's power distribution system, he said.

A video interview is available here. He thinks it's possible we'll see a softer oil price at the beginning of the year, as low as $85 a barrel, but then it'll rise back up to $100.