By Matt Daily
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Energy investor T. Boone Pickens said he has been buying up U.S. shale acreage, and he could consider signing joint ventures to develop the properties, or some property sales.
"I'm in two big shale plays and one of them is the Marcellus," Pickens said in an interview, referring to the massive natural gas field that stretches from West Virginia and Ohio across Pennsylvania and into New York.
Pickens said his other shale holdings are in an oil shale field, but he declined to name the field.
"I'm still buying," he said.
Advances in drilling technology in the past decade have opened up vast tracts across the United States to oil and gas drilling that were once too difficult or expensive to tap.
The shale fields could hold enough natural gas to supply the United States for more than a century, experts have estimated, although the hydraulic fracturing techniques used to extract the gas have raised environmental concerns in some areas.
Companies are also shifting drilling efforts into shale fields that hold oil or natural gas liquids, since those fuels are fetching far higher prices than natural gas.
That boom has seen property prices in some gas basins such as the Marcellus surge above $10,000 an acre, while prices in the liquids-rich areas of Texas's Eagle Ford shale have topped $20,000 an acre.
"I got in under what I've seen some of them sell for, $5,000 or $10,000 an acre, and I didn't pay anything like that. But I haven't sold anything," he said.
Pickens said there appear to be at least two companies interested in setting up joint ventures with shale acreage owners, but has not made any moves so far.
"There's some parts of it I'd be interested in maybe selling some of it, and some I wouldn't," he said.
(Additional reporting by Ed McCallister, Joshua Schneyer, Michael Erman, Jeanine Prezioso and Roy Strom, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)