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Pickens Tells CNBC: Fundamentals Pushing Up Oil, Not Politics

CNBC.com
Thursday, 29 Mar 2007 | 1:53 PM ET

Texas energy investor Boone Pickens told CNBC that the recent spike in oil prices is due more to "fundamentals" than geopolitical tensions with Iran and that "you're going to look at $70 oil pretty quick."

Boone Pickens Talks Oil
Petro-Politics is creating shockwaves at a time when refineries are down and supply is tight. Boone Pickens, BP Capital CEO, shares his insight with CNBC's Becky Quick.

The billionaire CEO of BP Capital said in an interview on "Squawk Box" that the current market is "very tight" because inventories have declined for seven straight weeks. He expects that will continue.

Thus, he rates the current market as being influenced by "90% fundamentals, but only 10% geopolitical." That could change, however, if the situation with Iran's seizure of 15 British sailors worsens and causes a blockage of the Straits of Hormuz, the waterway linking the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean.

"It's got to be something awful big," Pickens said. But if that happened, oil could go to "$100, easy."

Political or natural disasters aside, Pickens' projection for the next three to six months is "$75 before $55."

As to Tuesday's spike -- when market rumors drove up oil some $5 in a matter of minutes -- Pickens attributes that to people being "very nervous," especially if they're either not hedged or playing the market short.

But he said he's continuing to be long on oil. Inventories are likely to keep rising due to refinery shutdowns, Pickens pointed to Valero's McKee refinery in West Texas, slated to be down "two, three weeks" -- and instead, likely to be out of commission "two, three months."

Pickens also ruled out Saudi Arabia playing white knight. The kingdom has plenty of oil but it's not of very good quality. "The oil that's available [to Arabia] is the undesirable, high-sulfur, low gravity crude," he said.

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