Energy legend T. Boone Pickens isn't a fan of exporting American oil and gas when we are importing millions of barrels every day from countries that are far from friends. Pickens also doesn't see exporting gas to Europe as being the answer to European reliance on Russian natural gas. It's also not a "quick fix," with the first exports not possible before late 2015, when Cheniere Energy's (NYSEMKT:LNG) Sabine Pass Liquefaction plant -- the first of its kind in the U.S. -- begins operation.
In the video below, Pickens explains to Motley Fool contributor Jason Hall how American technical know-how is a better asset for our allies to use, to leverage their own domestic resources and reduce dependence on imported oil and gas. Check out the video, or read the transcript below, for more from this energy legend.
Jason Hall: The President, for his entire administration, has used the term...
T. Boone Pickens "All of the Above."
Hall: "All of the above." Whether we've necessarily seen execution on that policy or not, is another story. This brings up another topic that you've touched on many times, and that is the energy policy in the United States, or lack thereof. Would you share your thoughts on that?
T. Boone Pickens: Well, every country in the world has an energy policy, but America. That's it.
Why don't we have an energy policy? I can go back to Nixon. Somebody said further back than that. I said, "probably there, but I can remember Nixon." He was going to have an energy plan. Every President from Nixon forward has said, "Elect me and we'll be energy independent," but none of them ever gave you an energy plan.
The President that was closest to a plan was Carter. Remember, he got in the Fuel Use Act, and he was convinced that America was fast depleting oil and gas reserves, and that we were going to have to rely on the Mideast for our oil.
I can't say I didn't agree with him. I thought kind of the same thing.
Hall: Well, it happened.
Pickens: Yes. We peaked on oil production in the United States in 1970; 10 million barrels a day is what we had, and it declined to 4.5. We're back up to 8.5, and could get back up to 10. That all happened because you had a very aggressive industry that did an excellent job and found, through technology advances, that you could fracture the shales and you could drill the horizontal wells and everything else.
But that was our industry, in America, that developed all that. They should get credit for it. How? Just a pat on the back's good enough. There's no prizes or anything else for them, but they're almost criticized or whatever -- when they have done a fantastic job.
When I got out of school in '51, 90% of all the oil found around the world had been found by American geologists. Then there were some other companies, foreign companies, that were developed over time.
But we're back at the point that the advances that are made, technically, are made by our industry in the United States. You don't ever see anything come out of any other foreign company or anything else. It's the United States that's developed it.
Hall: One thing that's played out over the past several years is that a number of foreign companies have bought interests and agreed to joint ventures with American producers, in the U.S.
Pickens: That's right.
Hall: A lot of my understanding is, it's primarily to try to develop some of that expertise that American energy companies have.
Pickens: It is, but the Ukraine/Russian problem that is very recent ... we have politicians get up and say, "We've got plenty of natural gas. We'll just send it over to Europe. We'll take care of that problem."
Well, no. The first natural gas that will be exported out of the United States will be the Cheniere Energy plant at Lake Charles, Louisiana. It's already under contract. That'll be the first that will go out of the United States, which will be early '16.
Hall: Eighteen months from now, essentially.
Pickens: Yes. But you're talking about two billion a day -- insignificant on a problem for Europe. But Europe? Hey, tell them, "We'll help you technically. We can help you on the horizontal, with the fracking and all, but you have shale too." Europe has shale.
You've got France, that says, "Moratorium. Not going to drill anything."
Okay. "Hey, that's your problem, fellas." We don't need to try to solve the problem for Europe. They have shale. Develop your own shale.
Hall: That's a position that you've stood on for a number of years; as long as the United States is importing oil, especially from countries that don't really like us very much at all, and what we stand for, it doesn't necessarily make sense to export that commodity.
Pickens: None. You have no energy plan, though.
Here we are -- all at once we have an abundance. We have more natural gas than any country in the world, and we are in good shape for 100 years on natural gas. We need to decide how this is going to be deployed -- no plan.
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