Matthew Simmons Passes Away at 67

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.