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There's growing evidence that Saudi Arabia's attempt to flood the crude market at a time of oversupply and concerns about weakening demand is not working, American oil billionaire Harold Hamm said Tuesday.
"We're in a predatory pricing environment. That's what's happened. The Saudis turned 1.8 million barrels on, and basically their intent was to drown us. But they've not got that done. It's been a monumental mistake for them, I might add, a trillion- dollar mistake," the founder and chief of Oklahoma-based Continental Resources told CNBC's "Squawk Box. "
Hamm cited speculation that Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant, may sell at least part of its operations in an initial public offering.
"They're having to sell part of their business to keep doing what they are doing," he said, referring to the refusal by the Saudis to cut production. "They're having to sustain a country. We're sustaining companies here. We cut capex and quit spending money. And ride it out."
Pressure may be mounting on Saudi Arabia from fellow OPEC members, as crude prices continued to trade around 12-year lows Tuesday morning. Nigeria's oil minister said a couple members of OPEC have requested an emergency meeting. But other members said the group won't be gathering to talk about oil prices before their next scheduled meeting in June.
Over the next 12 months, Hamm expects oil prices to nearly double to around the $50 to $60 per barrel range as output, at least in the U.S., abates. "The tipping point is getting back to equilibrium with supply and demand. We see that happening in the back part of the year."
But there's been some question about whether some of the U.S. oil companies can survive until the market stabilizes.
Oppenheimer analyst Fadel Gheit told CNBC on Monday that half of the American shale producers could go bankrupt before crude eventually turns. Gheit also sees equilibrium at around $60 per barrel, but said it could take more than two years to get there.
Hamm said the bankruptcy narrative has been vastly overstated.
"It's a different situation than it was in the 1980s. Most of the companies out there [now] have long term money that's not coming due tomorrow," he said. "They're able to ride this out."
"A lot of bankruptcies were predicted early. They're just not happening. We have some of them that have. The weaker companies are folding, maybe, but very few of them," he said.