Entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of BP Capital, T. Boone Pickens said he's shutting the fund down, noting he's no longer intrigued by oil. File photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 12 (UPI) -- After a "roller coaster ride" that saw $100-per-barrel swings in crude oil prices, tycoon and former oil man T. Boone Pickens said he's bored with trading oil.
The 89-year-old investor, who nine years ago launched The Pickens Plan, designed to drive the U.S. energy sector away from its dependence on foreign oil, said in a statement he was shutting down his oil- and gas-commodity focused BP Capital.
Launched after he left Mesa Petroleum in the 1990s, Pickens said he's seen oil move from $10 per barrel, up to the $150 range and as low as $26 per barrel in early 2016. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, hit $70 per barrel for the first time since December 2014 in Thursday trading, but is now back below $69 per barrel.
"It has been one hell of a roller coaster ride," he said.
Crude oil prices were supported last year by a decision from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to work to erase the surplus that pushed oil below $30 per barrel in 2016 with coordinated production declines. That deal is now in its second year.
A geopolitical risk premium, spurred in part by unrest in Iran and President Donald Trump's sanctions decisions in the U.N.-backed nuclear deal that put more Iranian oil barrels on the market, helped drive the price of oil up nearly 5 percent so far in 2018.
Pickens said he's enjoyed the ride, but was hanging it up after a storied career in oil trade.
"I've thrived and profited on the volatility in the energy space," he said. "But for me, personally, trading oil is not as intriguing to me as it once was."
Pickens last decade shelved a $10 billion effort to build a giant wind farm in the Texas Panhandle. A spokesman for his BP Capital Management said at the time the ambitious effort was shelved because of a tight credit market and because electric utilities were opting to build natural gas-fired generators at a time of low gas prices.
Over the last year, economies from Norway to the state of New York have moved some of their pension funds away from oil and natural gas.
The Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation said a dynamic business sector and well-managed oil and gas wealth means Norway, with its vast oil and gas wealth, enjoys one of the highest levels of GDP per capita in the world, though managers need to stay nimble, especially amid concerns about a housing market correction.
"In making this decision, I'm mindful of the fact that BP Capital is not the first nor the last energy focused hedge fund to close up shop," Pickens said. "The financial world is littered with them these days."