Pickens Expects Oil, Natural Gas Prices to Fall

After correctly predicting oil's climb to more than $100 a barrel, legendary oilman Boone Pickens said Thursday he is shorting both the oil and natural gas markets in the belief that oil will stage a short-term pullback.

Boone Pickens
Richard Drew
Boone Pickens

"I think oil's going to back off," he said, during an interview on "Squawk Box."

"The weakest quarter is the second quarter. We'll drop $10 or $15 a barrel in the second quarter. I think we'll be back above $100 in the second half of the year."

"I think natural gas prices are unusually high now, and I think they're going to back off, also," he added.

When investors take a short position in an investment they are betting the value of the investment, be it a stock or a commodity, will fall. Short-sellers often borrow securities, then sell them, waiting for their value to fall so they can buy the asset at a lower price, return them to lender and pocket the difference in the prices.

In a wide-ranging interview, Pickens also declared some support for alternative energy, saying half a trillion dollars a year is going out of the country to buy oil.

"We've got to get coal cleaned up, and we've got to get natural gas into the transportation mix. We're transferring so much wealth out of our country," he said.

According to Pickens, solar power technology is "almost there," and there could be "corridors" of wind power developed from Texas through the Great Plains and west to California.

A company Pickens founded, Clean Energy Fuels Corporation, provides natural gas to power buses, taxicabs, government vehicles and trucks.

He also revealed a change of heart on ethanol.

"I was a hard guy on ethanol," he admitted. "I didn't jump for that at first, but I'd rather have ethanol, and recirculate the money in the country, than to have it go out the back door on us."

Despite his move into alternative energy, he remains a major player in oil. In a Securities and Exchange filing last week, he revealed he holds a 9.5 percent stake in Interoil.

The discussion also touched on Pickens' early support of the unsuccessful presidential bid of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

"My guy rode up in front of the grandstand and fell off his horse," he said.

According to Pickens, the presidential candidates are clueless about what to do about an energy crisis.

"These candidates have to get up to speed on what energy costs is doing to our country," Pickens said.

Pickens, who founded and chairs the $4 billion BP Capital Management hedge fund, had previously told CNBC that he expected oil prices to reach $100 based on growing global demand.

U.S. oil prices peaked at $101.32 per barrel on Wednesday, surpassing the highs near $100 hit early in January, on expectations that OPEC will maintain or even cut its supplies when ministers meet on March 5. However, after a bigger-than-expected drop in crude oil stocks in the U.S., the price of U.S. light, sweet crude retreated to below the $100-mark.