The best energy bet for the United States amid rising crude prices might lay in natural gas, billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens said Wednesday.
“There are 8½ million 18-wheelers in the United States. That’s 2½ million barrels of oil a day. So that cuts OPEC in half if you had all the 18-wheelers,” he said. “Is there any obstacle from that happening? Not that I know of because the fuel is so cheap.”
Oil prices hovered near six-month highs on Iranian fears and concerns over other Middle Eastern producers. U.S. light, sweet crudesettled at $101.80 a barrel, gaining $1.06, while Brent crudetraded at $118.98 a barrel, up $1.63.
The price action came as a Deutsche Bank report said potential threats to the global oil supply were as great as they have been since the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War three decades ago.
Pickens also likened the situation to the 1970s, but to a different effect.
“OK, go back to ’72 when we switched from gasoline to diesel for our heavy-duty trucks. Well, what was that all about? Price. Diesel was cheap. How long did it take to accomplish it? Five years.
“You’re exactly at the same crossroads today,” he said. “I don’t see any obstacles in front of it.”
Pickens, CEO of BP Capital Management and major shareholder in Clean Energy Fuels, also said he believed the Keystone XL pipeline deal would get done.
“We’ll be stupid if we don’t take the Canadian oil,” he said. “If we don’t take it, what’s going to happen — there’s great demand in Asia — so they’ll build that pipeline to Kitimat, British Columbia, and it’ll go to China.”
Pickens praised the domestic oil industry for having increased production to the point where it has the cheapest oil in the world — at $70 per barrel for North Dakota crude — and reducing dependence on foreign suppliers.
“We’re going to get industry back in this country because of cheap energy,” he said.
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Trader disclosure: On Feb. 13, 2011, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s "Fast Money" were owned by the "Fast Money" traders: Terranova is long VRTS; Terranova is long HPQ; Terranova is long IBM; Terranova is long MCD; Terranova is long SWN; Terranova is long EMC; Terranova is long OXY; Terranova is long SBUX; Terranova is long LQD; Terranova is long UNG puts; Finerman is long AAPL; Finerman is long BAC; Finerman is long JPM; Finerman is short IBM calls; Finerman is long HPQ; Finerman is long LIZ; Finerman is long NTAP; Finerman is long PACD; Kelly is long GLD; Kelly is long TLT; Kelly is long T-Notes futures; Kelly is short Yen; Kelly is short Swiss Franc; Kelly is short Eurostoxx50; Seymour is long AAPL; Seymour is long INTC; Seymour is long SBUX
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