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Investor T. Boone Pickens more in love with NG than ever

Pickens and his family own 41 percent of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which installs NG fueling stations for cars and trucks. (The Trucker: Aprille Hanson)

By DOROTHY COX
The Trucker Staff

8/21/2013

DALLAS — Investor T. Boone Pickens hasn’t changed his tune about getting the U.S. off dependence on foreign oil and onto plentiful natural gas (NG) for Class 8 trucks and other vehicles with maybe one exception. Natural gas is an even more plentiful fuel than he originally thought — able to supply the nation’s needs for “well over 100 years,” he said.

 “In America we’re together on energy: We have plenty of resources so we don’t have to do business with anyone we don’t want to,” notably the OPEC oil cartel, Pickens told attendees of the annual Commercial Vehicle Outlook Conference here before the start of the Great American Trucking Show.

For the record, Pickens is in favor of doing business with Mexico and Canada, and he said he wants the U.S. to have “an energy policy” to help make that possible and to more quickly advance natural gas development and infrastructure.

Five years ago, when he came up with the “Pickens plan,” he said he “wasn’t savvy enough” to know the extent of U.S. NG reserves. He was assuming recoverable NG from 4 percent porosity shale in the 4 trillion range. Now people say twice that much is available, he said.

Why buy dirtier, more costly oil from America’s enemies, he asked, when the U.S. has more NG available than any other country in the world?

His focus is the estimated 8 million Class 8 trucks in America, which if switched to NG could save 3 million barrels of oil a day, he said.

Right now, he said Sen. Harry Reid, D.-Nev., is working on a bill to put natural gas development and infrastructure on the fast track, hopefully with tax credits to speed it up even more.

He said U.S. independence from OPEC means less money will go pay Taliban terrorists, and that using NG could cut OPEC oil use by 75 percent.

After an overview on the favorable economics of using American NG, Pickens answered questions from the audience.

Following are a few of his statements:

•Nobody has proven that water from fracking operations (a technique in which water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a well bore to create small fractures along which fluids such as gas, petroleum and brine water may migrate to the well), has penetrated acquifers or poisoned fish. The process, he said, always includes sealing off the acquifer. “There’s no history of damage” and the salt destroying water creatures is from runoff from salting roads in icy weather, he said.

• The waste management business is close to 90 percent NG use on trucks and is a segment of trucking that suits compressed natural gas (CNG) rather than liquified natural gas (LNG).

• NG prices will keep stable with use because as demand picks up and the more people who use NG-powered trucks the more drilling there will be and the more NG there will be available, bringing down the price.

The next five years in energy will be “monumental,” Pickens predicted, with NG use growing exponentially for transportation use, especially in China and India. Other countries are aware of the benefits of NG, he said, and the U.S. would be foolish not to take advantage of its own resources.

Pickens and his family own 41 percent of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which installs NG fueling stations for cars and trucks.

The self-made billionaire was roughnecking on an oil rig in Holdenville, Okla., by age 16, studied geology in Texas A&M and later Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State) and out of school took a job offer from Phillips Oil.

Working for a big company with its nose in his business didn’t agree with Pickens, he told Forbes Life last year. When he parted ways with the company he was married and starting a young family and needed capital. He took $1,500 in his company retirement account to live on and started drumming up drilling deals and made a big deal in the first month, did side work as a geologist and the rest is history, as they say.