Oil Tycoon Pickens' Holdings Shrink in Prolonged Downturn

  • Market value of energy holdings has fallen to $35.6 million
  • TBP sold out of mostly smaller oil service companies

Out of Oil Market, No Exposure to WTI: T. Boone Pickens

Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens reversed course in the third quarter by slimming down his energy holdings and selling several stocks he’d bought just three months earlier as the worst crude market downturn in decades drags on longer than he expected.

The value of energy stocks held by his Dallas-based TBP Investments Management LLC fell by more than half in the quarter to $35.6 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. TBP exited stakes in 13 companies, including smaller oilfield contractors Pioneer Energy Services Corp., C&J Energy Services Ltd. and Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. Many of the positions Pickens sold were stakes he had bought in the second quarter.

TBP also sold off smaller positions in exploration companies Apache Corp., and Occidental Petroleum Corp. By exiting Apache in the third quarter, Pickens missed out on the company’s recent improvement, as the Houston-based producer has climbed 27 percent since Oct. 1. Much of the surge came on news last week that it had been approached by a buyer.

"We have reduced positions," Pickens said Tuesday in an interview on "Bloomberg Markets" in New York. "We’re in a mode where we still have powder."

By exiting his position in Suncor Energy Inc., Pickens has sold out of Canada’s oil sands, which is one of the world’s most expensive sources of crude supply. Suncor is the largest Canadian energy company and the biggest oil-sands producer.

TBP added stakes in three new exploration companies: Whiting Petroleum Corp., PDC Energy Inc. and Synergy Resources Corp.

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Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services provider, said last month that a recovery might not come until 2017. Three months ago, Chief Executive Officer Paal Kibsgaard had said he thought the industry had already seen the worst of the U.S. oil rout. Oil service providers were the first to cut spending and jobs after prices began falling last year, and their group has been the hardest-hit segment of the oil industry.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude, fell 1.1 percent to $41.28 a barrel at 11:35 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. WTI shouldn’t fall below $40 a barrel, Pickens said in the interview. His forecast for $70 oil by the end of the year "may be off by six months," he said.

"We thought that we had seen the bottom, but we didn’t," Pickens said. "The decline in production when the rigs shut down was not as severe as I thought it would be."

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