US oil producers can’t keep drilling at $45 oil: Pickens

Boone Pickens
Saudi Prince doesn't know what he's talking about: Pickens

Energy tycoon Boone Pickens predicted on Friday that oil prices would be back near $70 or $80 a barrel by the fourth quarter of this year.

Oil producers in West Texas and North Dakota "can't drill for $45 oil," Pickens said on CNBC's "Street Signs."

"In the last 30 days they've dropped 300 rigs…. You're gonna reach an all-time high on the inventory of oil, and it will be reached within the next six weeks, and then it will start to decline. "

In December, Pickens forecast that oil prices would be back near $100 a barrel in 12 to 18 months. On Friday, he said he stood by that call.

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With benchmark Brent crude prices down more 50 percent from a year ago, it may be hard for some to envision such a bullish move.

But Pickens, the founder of BP Capital, said, "We've got good numbers here. We didn't have a good year in a tough commodity dealing with energy, like we did, if we didn't know what we're talking about." His firm saw it's commodity fund jump 10 percent last year.

Following the death of his uncle, King Abdullah, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal said the price of oil may rise, but it won't go near $100 in this lifetime.

"The price may fluctuate between the four digit range… but as I said we'll never see the price of oil again at $100," the billionaire investor said in an interview with CNBC.

Pickens said Talal "doesn't know what he's talking about" with respect to oil prices.

T. Boone Pickens
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
T. Boone Pickens

"The reason the oil price has dropped is because of production here in the United States," Pickens said. "No question, we were the ones that caused it, and we'll be the ones that will fix it. And the way we fix it is our rig count will go down."

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The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. fell 49 to 1,317, about 100 less than a year earlier, according to Baker Hughes data released on Friday. Last week, oil rig counts saw their second-sharpest weekly drop in 24 years, according to Reuters.

Last week, Pickens hosted a live chat on Twitter and cited oil rig counts, along with other factors, as major clues in determining a potential bottom in oil prices.