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By Robert Rapier on Aug 9, 2010 with 10 responses

Matthew Simmons Passes Away at 67

Tags: Matt Simmons

This morning I received the shocking news that Matthew Simmons has passed away.

Various news reports have been coming in that he was found unconscious in his hot tub in Maine. It is believed that he suffered a heart attack. Some local stories reported that he drowned.

Matt Simmons and the BP Oil Spill

Simmons had recently become a frequent topic of discussion on this blog after the many doomsday predictions he made about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Matt was a frequent guest on MSNBC, Bloomberg and CNN –among others– in the aftermath of the oil spill, where he continuously made claims that the oil spill was many times worse than being reported. He even went so far as to say that the government was complicit in covering up the real effects of the spill.

The press began to call on “BP’s harshest critic” whenever they wanted to broadcast outstanding claims and predictions. Since the media never questioned the veracity of Simmons’ statements this led me to examine many of the claims he made.

Matt Simmons and Peak Oil

Matt Simmons was an investment banker to the oil industry, probably most well-known for writing the book Twilight in the Desert. The book laid out the arguments that Saudi Arabia had overstated their oil reserves, that their oil production was on the cusp of decline, and that prices were set to soar.

The book became very popular, especially when Saudi production began to decline shortly after the book came out.

Although I differed on some of the arguments Simmons put forth in his book, I thought the book was important for two reasons. One, it put a spotlight on Saudi Arabia and really highlighted the importance of that country to the rest of the world, especially once oil supplies began to shrink. Second, it called a lot of attention to the issue of peak oil.

My deepest condolences to the family. As I have said many times, Simmons was one of my earliest peak oil influences, and one of the reasons I decided to start writing about energy. He educated a great many people to the threats lurking in our dependence upon oil, and he will be missed. The fact that we had differing opinions around the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in no way diminishes the impact he had on me.

Rockland, Maine (August 9, 2010)

Matthew R. Simmons, founder of the Ocean Energy Research Institute in Rockland, Maine, passed away suddenly on Sunday.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen, and their five daughters.

Mr. Simmons was also former chairman of Simmons & Company International. Details of the services are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Ocean Energy Research Institute.

  1. By rrapier on August 9, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Sadly, the Simmons news wasn’t the only bad news I got this morning:

    Friends of missing Calgary men hope for miracle

    The urgent effort to rescue two Calgary energy executives and avid pilots who went missing after their small plane disappeared off the coast of Nova Scotia has turned into a grim search for their bodies and the aircraft.

    Authorities scaled back an intensive air and marine search Saturday afternoon for Dennis Forgeron, CEO of a Calgary energy company, and pilot Ronald David Johnston as the possibility of finding them alive grew remote.

    Johnston is the CEO of Calgary-based Expander Energy, which has plans to build a plant in Edmonton to make diesel fuel from wood waste.

    Wilcox said Johnston is one of the smartest business people he has ever met. But that certainly is not all.

    “He’s a very generous person, the kind of person who would immediately take you under his wing and make you feel comfortable, make you feel appreciated and important,” Wilcox said.

    I first met Ron Johnston about a year ago, and he was an incredibly decent person to me. He showed me around Calgary, and hosted a group of us at his home for dinner. We shared similar passions and ideas, especially around energy. I just spoke to him on the phone last week, and was planning a trip to Calgary during the 2nd half of August to see him. Such sad news today.

    Once again, my deepest condolences to his family and friends.


  2. By PeteS on August 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Just heard the sad news about Matt Simmons.

    I bought Twilight In The Desert when it came out but never read it. Maybe it’s time.

  3. By rrapier on August 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    More details are beginning to emerge:

    Matthew Simmons, Peak Oil Theory Advocate, Dies at 67

    Simmons, 67, died in an accidental drowning at his home in Maine, local officials said.

    Emergency medical workers responded to Simmons’s home a little before 10 p.m. local time yesterday, said John Dietter, a crew chief in North Haven, Maine. The official cause of death is drowning, and he was found in a hot tub, said Tara Harrington, medical associate at Maine’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

    “It was an accident,” Harrington said today in a telephone interview. She said “heart disease” was listed for the category of “other significant conditions” on the death certificate.

  4. By OD on August 9, 2010 at 9:31 pm


  5. By ROBERT on August 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    He went back to the pre-peak days in his hot tub time machine.

  6. By Benny BND Cole on August 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Well, speak no eveil of the dead.

    Still, here is a report out of China.

    “China’s annual production of clean energy automobiles, including electric cars, hybrid energy vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell cars and solar cars, will increase to 15 million units by 2020, a Chinese newspaper said on Tuesday (August 10, 2010).
    According to the Shanghai-based Xinmin Evening Post, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has worked out a blueprint for the nation’s new energy car industry in the next ten years. MIIT will soon submit the blueprint to the nation’s State Department for final approval.”

    Now, if I were a doomy guru, I could comment that China’s rush into BEV’s, and the huge pending growth of Iraq oil production, spells “doom” for the oil industry and sure social collapse of Saudi Arabia. Oiil demand is already declining in the developed world, Iraq is set to boom, and now China’s is moving away from oil.

    It is bleak, hopeless for petroleum engineers.

  7. By OD on August 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm


    I’m actually more worried about the rate China is burning through coal than oil. They burn twice as much as the US and have a much smaller resource base. I believe peak coal for world production is expected in a year or 2.

    How are they going to power all these electric cars?

  8. By Benny BND Cole on August 11, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    I was trying to make a point–that one can extrapolate from current trends or events, and come to a doomy conclusion easily, a conclusion that might appear compelling to a layman. Especially, if the tale-teller has some credential and a gift for English.
    I don’t know about coal. We have a lot in the USA. Maybe we can export to the Chinese, I hope so.
    As for making electrical power, I see no problems there. The human race mastered nuclear power generations back, and we can build those, or wind plants, or solar. I would prefer the world goes the France route–you cokme up with an approved design, and then replicate it. I like mini-nukes too.
    Nukes strike me as a wonderful invention, and I hope we build thousands of such plants in the years ahead, all over the woprld.


  9. By OD on August 11, 2010 at 11:26 pm


    I definitely agree with you, but I think it is important we never underestimate how enormous this undertaking will be. I also worry a lot about the rare earths needed for all the batteries, but that seems open for debate for now.

    I truly wish I was as optimistic as you.

  10. By mier on August 12, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Tony Hayward got him!!

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