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By Samuel R. Avro on Jan 7, 2009 with no responses

Pickens: Crude Oil Above $100 By Next Year

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The billionaire energy investor, is urging everyone who will listen, to take action now towards reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. His plan calls for a combined use of natural gas and wind power to replace some of the oil currently used.

The price of a barrel of crude oil will rise above $100 by the end of next year, oil magnate turned renewable energy advocate T. Boone Pickens said yesterday during a speech at Rice University in Houston.

The Texas energy investor made the comments during a town hall style forum at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University discussing his now famous Pickens Plan which is designed to wean America off its dependence on foreign oil by investing in alternative energy.

The current price of oil (in the $45 range) will not hang around for much longer, he said.

The plan calls for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil by one-third in 10 years with a combination of natural gas and wind power picking up the slack.

Despite the faltering economy and lower oil prices, Pickens is not deterred.

“I’m not frustrated yet,” Pickens told reporters following the meeting. “I don’t feel we’re out of the money. The interest is [still] there because I think people, [even if] they don’t agree with me, think I know what I’m talking about.”

He is looking for the government to get more involved with his plan, and said that he has high hopes for the incoming administration of Barack Obama to take up the issue.

“The leadership in Washington has never understood energy,” Pickens told the audience. “I would say we have a better chance with President-elect Obama than we would [Sen. John] McCain.”

The Pickens plan is relying heavily on investments in the wind power sector which according to the Energy Department can produce 20% of America’s electricity. North Dakota alone has the potential to provide power for more than a quarter of the country.

“Building wind facilities in the corridor that stretches from the Texas panhandle to North Dakota could produce 20% of the electricity for the United States at a cost of $1 trillion,” it says on the plan’s website. “It would take another $200 billion to build the capacity to transmit that energy to cities and towns.”

Pickens urged Obama to bring about a mandate to place 350,000 natural gas-powered, 18-wheel trucks on the road, with $30 billion in federal incentives to encourage people to buy the vehicles. If this were to happen, he expects to have reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil by more than 5%.

The lack of investment from the private sector has set back his plan to construct the world’s largest wind farm of 4,000 megawatts in the Texas Panhandle.

“Waiting for the free market can be disastrous,” he said. That’s why he’s seeking financing from the federal government. “We have got to get this in the first 100 days if we don’t get it in the stimulus package.”

For those concerned with the current infrastructure’s ability to handle the enormous load of natural-gas powered engines, Pickens said not to worry. A network of 1,200 fueling stations could be built within five years, raising the capital from private investors at no expense to the nation’s taxpayers, he says.