Energy magnate T. Boone Pickens says the U.S. oil industry may be “dead in the water,” but gasoline prices are low and the economy is thriving.

“The industry is dead in the water,” he said during a dinner discussion Tuesday night in New York. But at the same time, efforts by the Saudis and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to help the struggling sector are comical at best and show that OPEC has become irrelevant, he said.

The dinner was hosted by free-market proponents Committee to Unleash Prosperity. Those in attendance ranged from Wall Street fund managers to conservative commentators and former government officials.

He took a number of questions related to the oil industry. He said the price of oil would have to rise to nearly $60 per barrel for the industry to get back on its feet. The figure jibes with projections BP made earlier Tuesday in issuing a less-than-stellar first-quarter earnings report. The same day, Exxon Mobil’s credit got dinged by Standards and Poor’s, taking away the oil giant’s gold-plated AAA credit rating for the first time since the Great Depression.

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