Friday, August 22, 2008

Buffett Not Investing In Oils Sand - Not Yet Anyway!

Here is a transcript of what Warren Buffet said this morning on CNBC about his visit to the oil sand last Monday. I’ll still bet I was right, that Gates and Buffett did play some Bridge on this trip.

QUICK: Welcome back, everybody, to this special edition of SQUAWK BOX. We'vebeen talking all morning long with Warren Buffett of Omaha, Nebraska, sincewe're live in Omaha today.And, Warren, we've covered a range of topics, but there has been an awful lotof people who are interested in the trip you made this week. On Monday youheaded up with Bill Gates and you got to take a look at the tar sands. What happened?

Mr. BUFFETT: Well, what happened was Bill and I talked some months ago aboutjust how interesting the whole thing was from a geology standpoint and fromthe standpoint that that represents one of the few big upcoming sources ofmore oil production in the world, or very few. And we both thought we'dunderstand a little bit better if we went up and looked at it than simply byreading about it. So on Monday six of us, Bill and a few other fellows--theKiewit company arranged it. They're--they've done a lot of construction upthere. And we went up to northern Alberta and we saw a very big mining-typeproject. There are two ways that they recover oil from the tar sands. Andthen we went to this in situ project also, and we had some perfect peopleexplain a lot about how it worked both from a economic standpoint and from a physical standpoint.

QUICK: Uh-huh. And was this something that you came up with, that Bill cameup with, your friend, Walter Scott, from the Kiewit company? Who came up withthe idea?

Mr. BUFFETT: Well, Walter Scott arranged it for us.

QUICK: Right.

Mr. BUFFETT: Walter's a whole lot smarter than I am about what goes on inmining and all of--anything to do with the real world. I'm good with numbers.And so he arranged the trip for us. But it was something that Bill and Icooked up by--a couple of months ago when we were talking about the tar sands.We said why don't we go up and take a look? And so we found a date when sixof us could do it. Walter arranged the trip. We had some wonderful people upthere in Alberta at both projects that explained how the things really work,the costs involved. And they just couldn't have been more helpful.

QUICK: OK. So having seen that, there's already been a lot of people who'vebeen speculating that you must be interested in investing in this arena. Areyou?

Mr. BUFFETT: No, no. I go to the movies, but I don't buy movie companies.I mean, I--I'm always interested in understanding the math of things andunderstanding as much as I can about all aspects of business. And what Ilearn today may be useful to me two years from now. I mean, if I understandthe tar stands today and oil prices change or whatever may happen, I'm--I'vegot that filed away and I can--I can use it at some later date. And that'sreally the wonderful thing about investments is your knowledge is cumulative.So if you learn about coal or you learn about retailing or something, 40 yearsyou--it's useful at some point.

QUICK: Wait, does that make you think that an investment in a tar sands company, somebody who's making--taking advantage of that would not be worth it at $120 a barrel for oil?

Mr. BUFFETT: Well, the biggest variable in whether it's a good investment isthe price of oil. Now, it's important to know how much they can get out andwhat their costs are going to be and what the capital costs--all of that isimportant and that fits into it. But you still have to figure out what yourown feeling is about what oil's going to be selling for three years from nowor five years from now. Because you could be the world's greatest miningengineer, but if you were wrong about the price of oil in a big way it wouldnegate all that knowledge. So it--I can tell you that if 100--if you had $120oil from now till, you know, 50 years from now, that the tar sands wouldbe--would work out very well. But I don't know the answer to that. And I mayform an opinion at some point, and I've got it--I'm prepared to form thatopinion now.

QUICK: But you are not actively looking right now to invest in any of thesecompanies?Mr.

BUFFETT: Do I have a buy order this morning? The answer's no.

If you are interested in the video of the interview - here is the link: