August 12, 2009 / 6:46 AM / 11 years ago

Pickens: I'm long oil

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Oil man turned wind power fan T. Boone Pickens sees the price of a barrel of oil rising slightly to $75 by the end of this year and $85 next year.

“I’m long oil,” said Pickens in an interview on the sidelines of U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit, a meeting of industry leaders and policy makers.

Pickens has written a blueprint for U.S. energy policy, called the Pickens Plan, that focuses on converting heavy vehicles like big long-distance trucks, to natural gas.

Pickens, traditional environmentalists and those fearing U.S. dependence on foreign oil sources have argued that the nation should focus its efforts on alternative energy, like wind. As the economy has soured, potential jobs for building new energy infrastructure has taken a leading role in debates for changing the economy away from oil.

Nevertheless, “when the global economy gets going again, demand will be above supply,” said Pickens, explaining his forecast for oil prices, which has been constant for most of the year.

U.S. crude fell 33 cents to $70.60 a barrel on Monday.

The billionaire recently delayed plans to build the nation’s largest wind farm in the Texas panhandle, blaming financing problems and transmission limitations.

“You’ve got wind corridors all the way from Sweetwater, Texas to the Canadian border, so we’re looking at projects all up and down that corridor,” he said, adding that he was talking to groups with transmission capacity to decide where to site more than 600 windmills.

Pickens’ Mesa Power ordered the windmills for the first $2 billion phase of the project. Originally he had planned to install turbines that could power about 1.2 million homes by 2014 at a cost of about $8 billion.

He is still having trouble lining up financing for the first installment. “I’m in the wind business and I’m trying to finance a big project, and I can see it, but I can’t touch it,” he said, adding that he was sure he would get there.

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