The Twilight of Matt Simmons
By Bill Moore
News of Matt Simmon's untimely death came to me this morning in an email link to the August 9, 2010 Reuters new story, Oil guru Matthew Simmons dies in Maine.
I had had the pleasure of talking with Matt on a number of occasions over the years, even persuading him to join EV World's nascent Editorial Advisory Board, on the stipulation, he informed me, that I not ask his advice.
He first came to my attention back in 2004, when he was interviewed by Julian Darley on the topic of Peak Oil. I would interview him about his newly released book, "Twilight in the Desert " the summer of 2005.
I can still vividly recall his describing to me his wading through a three feet-high stack of Saudi oil field engineering reports, the consensus of which convinced him that Saudi Arabia's oil fields were in serious trouble, a conclusion that was not only the underlying premise of his book, but also earned him the reputation of an oil and gas industry gadfly, as well as a favorite cable news guest as oil prices briefly crested -- propelled mainly by greedy speculators -- at nearly $150 a barrel the summer of 2008. A year earlier he correctly predicted that the price would climb to over $100.
We finally would meet in person the Fall of 2005 at the first Association for the Study of Peak Oil conference in Denver and then again in Boston in 2006. At the Denver conference, he took a moment to thank me for helping publicize Twilight.
Over time, Matt became increasingly concerned about the imminence of Peak Oil and the serious impact it is likely to have on our culture. The founder of Simmons & Co. International, which today is one of the largest investment banking companies specializing in the energy industry, he also founded The Ocean Energy Institute, the mission of which is to promote research and development of offshore wind resources. In June, he announced he would retire from the investment bank business, but not before creating yet another sensation by alleging that the BP oil gusher is a "sideshow." The real problem, he contended is a huge seafloor fissure 5-7 miles away from the original blown wellhead. It is releasing, he estimated 120,000 barrels of oil a day. Little word has since appeared about that potential problem.
Matt, age 67, was discovered dead in the hot tub of his Maine summer home. The local coroner listed the cause of death as "accidental drowning" complicated by heart disease. He leaves his wife and five daughters, and a lot of grateful people whom he helped wake up to our challenging energy future, one he didn't live to see, but one I am sure he hoped he'd helped make a little less turbulent by speaking out.
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