WHEN: TODAY, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20TH
WHERE: CNBC's "Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with T. Boone Pickens, BP Capital Founder & Chairman, today on CNBC's "Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer."
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
JIM CRAMER, host: If we want to reduce our dependence of foreign oil from oh-so-friendly OPEC regimes, create hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country, if not millions, and combat global warming, then I think nat gas--not wind, not solar--is the solution. Unlike renewable fuels, natural gas is viable now. We've got a 100-year supply of it in the United States. It's 50 percent cleaner than coal. It is 20 percent cleaner than most petroleum-based fuels. And on a barrel-to-barrel comparison, US production of nat gas is double that of oil and close to that of coal. Plus the performance of natural gas stocks, which you know we care about at MAD MONEY--talking about Chesapeake, Devon, Apache, Anadarko, Ultra--range over the last three, five, 10 and 20 years is downright spectacular. Natural gas is simply better. But the one problem the industry has faced over and over and over again is it doesn't have the political clout of, say, the anti-Rainbow, pro-black lung coalition, aka the coal lobby. We need the politicians on our side for a big natural gas push. While Congress is working on a very good nat gas bill right now, the Obama administration hasn't exactly been a friend of this silent but not so deadly commodity. OK, so I got to lighten it up a little. That's why tonight we're thrilled to be speaking to Boone Pickens, who while widely known as a takeover operation in the oil world--I don't think we're allowed to use the term "corporate raider" anymore--is also the most public proponent of using nat gas as a transition fuel, with the eponymous Pickens plan to promote wind, energy and natural gas. Now, this past week in New York, Pickens refocused his plan, de-emphasizing wind and pushing instead for natural gas fuel buses and trucks, basically in line with what we've been promoting pretty much every week since the show began on MAD MONEY.
What are the real prospects of natural gas future in the US? Let's hear from the expert, Boone Pickens, who happens to be the man behind this commercial you may have seen on our network.
Mr. BOONE PICKENS: (From commercial) We have plenty of American natural gas to power our trucks and bus fleets. It's cheaper, cleaner, abundant and it's ours.
CRAMER: Boone, welcome back to MAD MONEY.
Mr. PICKENS: Thanks.
CRAMER: Good to see you, sir. Have a seat.
Mr. PICKENS: Thanks, thanks.
CRAMER: Good to see you.
Mr. PICKENS: Thank you.
CRAMER: All right. First of all, your ad starts off by talking about whether we've been lulled into believing that the energy problems are over and you use Arabic script. Now, it seems like you've decided to go national security, not jobs, not cleaner air. Is that--are you getting a reaction to that, which is a wake-up call for Americans?
Mr. PICKENS: Well, no question it's a national security issue. But at--that was in--that was always a part of my story. The jobs and clean were there too, of course. Domestic fuel. And so, yeah, but it is a security issue because you saw what Podesta came out with this week, and I think that's huge that our State Department recommends we don't visit these countries, and the countries they say don't visit, we are getting over four million barrels of oil a day from.
CRAMER: Well, and this would be a natural issue for President Obama, given the fact that he favors energy independence to embrace. Why has the administration so far been so quiet on this issue?
Mr. PICKENS: Health care. I think that's it.
CRAMER: Well, if that's the case, we're going to hear about it pretty soon, don't you think?
Mr. PICKENS: Coming up. I really believe it's coming up.
CRAMER: You have the votes. I lot of the people I speak to behind the scenes, and these are CEOs of natural gas companies, these are not yahoos, are telling me that you do not--that the industry does not have the votes, the coal industry's very powerful, the utility industry that's wedded to the coal industry's very powerful, and this bill will go nowhere.
Mr. PICKENS: Bet you a hundred dollars we have a bill before Memorial Day.
CRAMER: Not a lot to bet, but I like that. I like that wager. Before Memorial Day. So you think this is going to be resurrected, that Mr.--that Representative Markey is ready--he had some hearings today with Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon. Didn't really sound like either way was going to come out. It sounds like that there's some people very worried about natural gas and clean water.
Mr. PICKENS: This is not in Markey's bill.
CRAMER: Right. It's not in his bill.
Mr. PICKENS: OK. His bill is climate bill. We're talking about the natural gas bill, which is HR 1835.
CRAMER: Why wouldn't he let that come out ahead of his bill?
Mr. PICKENS: We're coming out ahead of his bill.
CRAMER: You sure?
Mr. PICKENS: I--now, hundred bucks, Jim, get on or get off.
CRAMER: I like that level of confidence. Now, I know that you've put up more than a hundred bucks for this campaign, though, haven't you?
Mr. PICKENS: A little more, yeah. Try about 62 million.
CRAMER: All right. Now, Andrew...
Mr. PICKENS: That's if I have a hundred bucks left.
CRAMER: All right. I'll go for the hundred bucks. I'll get an exceptional rider to my contract. In the interest of being fair, you've been on the show a bunch of times. We made a lot of money for our viewers with Clean Energy, CLNE. You have been very up front that you've got a big position in it. Do you think that we ought to start smaller and just try and get the whole country to switch to natural gas, maybe go with these large trucks. And what would that do if we converted large trucks to natural gas?
Mr. PICKENS: That's 1835. That's what that bill is, Natural Gas Act.
Mr. PICKENS: You get the eight and a half million, eight and a half million 18-wheelers. Now, that's what we call a Class 5 through 8, OK.
Mr. PICKENS: So we get them properly identified. And you don't convert them, they'll be new buys which will create a lot of jobs and all. That eight and a half million of those will get you two and a half million barrels of oil a day. I mean, you will not be importing it. Now you're using natural gas, you've cut out two and a half million. You have cut OPEC in half, that's it. cut them in half. Now, how do you think that's going to fit as far as being able to negotiate? You'll be able to negotiate then. Today, we have nothing to negotiate with. We are a sitting duck is what we are.
CRAMER: No, I recognize that. Now, wind power had been a very big issue for you. Now it's taken a back seat. Why is that?
Mr. PICKENS: No. What happened, wind is priced off the margin.
Mr. PICKENS: The margin's natural gas. Natural gas is $5. I've got to have $7 gas to make my wind deal work, it's that simple. So I've got to wait until natural gas prices go up. But what a wonderful time to move to natural gas when the price is low. A good comparison is that $5, 1MCF natural gas at $5 is equal to seven gallons of diesel. Seven gallons of diesel is $20.
Mr. PICKENS: It is so cheap we're going to go--if we don't make this deal, Jim, you and I and our generation are going to go down as the dumbest guys that ever came along.
CRAMER: Well, look, I--OK, we've been mystified. I've been mystified because it seems like such a no-brainer. But I've often found that common sense may not play as big a role in Washington as we people, as business people, think.
Mr. PICKENS: We've got the hundred dollar bet.
CRAMER: All right. I see you go back to the hundred dollar bet. I understand. Now...
Mr. PICKENS: We're going--it's going to be done. I really, truly believe it will be done.
CRAMER: Well, OK. Now, one of the things that I hear about--and I'd love you to be able to refute this--is that people feel that, perhaps because of some of the causes that you have backed, the Democrats in Congress may be not aligned with you because of political causes, maybe because of your backing of the swift boat campaign during a previous election.
Mr. PICKENS: I don't even remember that. You know, at my age...
CRAMER: Well, some of those people down there are like elephants.
Mr. PICKENS: You know, at my age, your memory's not too good anymore. So all I remember is the energy, what we have to do for America. And I think the Democrats are on board.
CRAMER: All right. What do you think about the idea that the natural gas lobbyists have been very slow? Now, we've had Mr. Hackett on from Anadarko and Mr. McClendon on from Chesapeake, and they admit that thought this was such an easy cause they didn't have to put money behind it. Why was the industry itself so unable to get its act together for several years? What is it? Because the technology's come on so fast they didn't realize what they had?
Mr. PICKENS: I think this, let me take you back five years.
Mr. PICKENS: OK. You didn't have the gas then.
Mr. PICKENS: When you had the gas, you didn't know how to get it. In the last five years, our technology has--you take Hackett and McClendon, Chesapeake, Anadarko, Sand Ridge, Apache, all of them have advanced so dramatically, and the recoveries are so good, and you've moved up to a point. That's where your 2,000 trillion cubic feet of gas is. Now, let me make a quick...
CRAMER: OK, OK.
Mr. PICKENS: ...conversion, a quick conversion. Two thousand trillion cubic feet of natural gas taken to barrels of oil equivalent is 350 billion barrels. That is twice as much as the Saudis have in oil. I mean, we are, our country, yours and mine and everybody out there, we are a serious energy player. We sit up now to the table for producers, not in the hall as a consumer. I mean, we're real. We've just got to have this administration understand that what has happened to our country.
CRAMER: Well, you're optimistic about it. I wish I could be. Perhaps as we talked offscreen, that maybe I'm being too cynical. I've seen this issue not get as far as I'd like, but it sounds like you've got a good read on it, and I just hope that Boone Pickens, BP Capital Management founder and chairman, is right on this issue. Thank you very much, sir.
Mr. PICKENS: We're going to do it. We're going to do it.
CRAMER: All right. Good to see you, sir. Thank you.
Mr. PICKENS: OK. Thank you.
CRAMER: Stay with Cramer.
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