Obituary - Matt Simmons: a true visionary

August 31, 2010

Matthew Simmons, an energy investment banker and peak oil alarmist who in recent years was a strong advocate of renewable energy, died on 8 August at his home near Rockland, Maine. He was 67.

In the 2005 book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, Simmons alleged that Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations were masking dwindling oil reserves and that Saudi oil production may have peaked, despite official reassurances that production could be maintained or increased for decades to come.

His ‘peak oil' theory remains controversial, with oil companies countering that deepwater exploration and enhanced recovery technology will keep the taps open long after easily exploited reserves have been largely exhausted.

More recently, Simmons has argued that the water resources required to extract unconventional resources such as shale gas could lead to widespread water shortages.

Simmons founded the Ocean Energy Institute in 2007 to help foster research in offshore renewable energy, including a proposed wind power project off the coast of Maine.

Simmons founded the energy investment firm Simmons & Company International in 1974, having relocated from Boston to Houston following the Opec oil shock. In June this year, he stepped down as the company's chairman emeritus after making several controversial and widely reported comments in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, including a prediction that the incident would soon bankrupt Macondo field operator BP.

Michael Frazier, Simmons & Co chairman, president and CEO, described Simmons as a ‘true visionary and friend', adding: ‘As a pivotal figure in the lives of many of our employees, and countless others across the energy industry, Matt will be sorely missed.'

Matt Simmons is survived by his wife, Ellen, and their five daughters. OE



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