Oilman Mixes With Water

Pickens Makes a Splash for DEG

T. Boone Pickens joked that it took 25 years for him to be asked to speak at an AAPG annual meeting — and when the opportunity finally arose the topic was water, not oil and gas.

"I was asked to speak at the AAPG convention 25 years ago, but that didn't work out, so when I was asked this year I figured I better take you up on it because if 25 more years pass I might not get another chance," he teased.

Pickens, one of AAPG's higher profile members, spoke at the Division of Environmental Geology luncheon in Dallas about his role in developing and exploiting water resources on his land.

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T. Boone Pickens joked that it took 25 years for him to be asked to speak at an AAPG annual meeting — and when the opportunity finally arose the topic was water, not oil and gas.

"I was asked to speak at the AAPG convention 25 years ago, but that didn't work out, so when I was asked this year I figured I better take you up on it because if 25 more years pass I might not get another chance," he teased.

Pickens, one of AAPG's higher profile members, spoke at the Division of Environmental Geology luncheon in Dallas about his role in developing and exploiting water resources on his land.

"I consider myself to be an environmentalist, and when the water situation in Roberts County (Texas) came up I was certainly aware of and sensitive to the environmental aspects of this business opportunity," he said. "While I want to help my neighbors and myself make some money on this deal, Roberts County is my home and I have just as much interest in protecting the resources of the area.

"People have said, 'Pickens is going to turn the area into a Dust Bowl.' Do they really think I'm that stupid? I'm not going to sell all the water and not have enough to run my operation. I have a golf course on my ranch, so I use a lot of water," he joked.

In fact, Pickens said his group, unlike some others, is bound by an agreement to only draw down the water reservoir by 50 percent.

Pickens detailed his seven-year odyssey to sell surplus water from a four county area in the Texas Panhandle.

"When the prospect of selling water first surfaced in 1997, people asked me if I thought the water would be worth much. I said I thought it would be worth more than the oil — a pretty safe call since there isn't any oil in this part of Texas," he said. "This is the only place in the world I ever drilled that I couldn't drill a dry hole. If I drill for water, I get water."

Pickens appreciates his ability to draw attention. He said Time magazine and the news show "60 Minutes" came to Roberts County looking for a story on the water deal.

"While this is certainly not a sensational news scoop, the sweetest part of this story is the benefit to local landowners," he said. "Today we have 400,000 acres signed up in Roberts County, encompassing 200 landowners. If we sell this water for $500 an acre, that will amount to about $1 million per family. That's big.

"I really want to make this deal for these folks," he continued. "I don't need the money as much as my neighbors do, and I have told them we will stick together. These are huge numbers to people who I think deserve to capitalize on their assets."

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