Monday, August 9, 2010

Matt Simmons has Died

Matt Simmons, author, investment banker, and noted Peak Oil Theorist has died.

Whatever Matt said that seemed to be outrageous regarding the Horizon spill, he is off the hook with me.

I had corresponded with the man by email over the years and had a pleasant lunch with him in Boston some years back so I can't say that I knew him well, but what little I did know led me to believe he was a courteous gentleman with a keen interest in his personal intellectual pursuits.

I am saddened to hear of his passing.


kathy said...

Right there with you Greg. I was dismayed by his reporting on the DWH as the claims were not backed up by the science. I wonder now if perhaps he was not well all this time. I'm sure the conspiracy bunch will be going to town on this but sometimes a nice man's death is just a nice man's death. I will always appreciate the roll he played in my journey to become peak oil aware. One of the good guys, I think.

bureaucrat said...

I regret that I never met him. I was hoping at the World Oil Conference this coming October I would have the opportunity. Oh well.

I do know that for the last year or so, Simmons' predictions (perhaps forced by people who wanted him to predict the future, which is a very tough thing to do) were getting more hard-to-believe as time went on. He made a prediction that, within a year, the low levels of oil in the pipeline network would bring the system to stoppage, or something like that. Well, a year went by, and there was no stoppage.

I'd hate to think he will be remembered as the guy who "cried wolf" with all his face time for two weeks on MSNBC and Bloomberg, saying there was even more oil coming up in another opening than was being revealed. Time will tell.

There are lots of guys in the peak oil movement who are encouraged to make predictions than often fall flat. Chris Skrebowski, energy analyst in UK, constructed an oil supply-demand graph that obviously didn't work -- we were supposed to have demand overtake supply in 2008.

What we should take from Simmons' death is that specific predictions are a bad idea, no matter how long you've been around the energy industry. Specific predictions make peak oil-ists look foolish.

tweell said...

The world is incredibly complex, some trends are obvious and some are less so. Our best future predictors manage about 10% better than the average joe. Mr. Simmons at least was an honest man, who did his best to warn of oil depletion in the future. As far as the Horizon oil spill goes, Mr. Simmons wasn't an expert in oil drilling problems, let alone highly specialized fields like deep water oil drilling, so his opinion was just an opinion. As an investment banker who made his bundle by understanding long term trends, his ringing the alarm bell about oil was much more credible. His bet on oil prices will almost certainly be wrong, but for other trends that weren't that visible (real estate bubble, depression) if at all, he would have been right. Goodbye, Mr. Simmons... and thanks.

Dextred1 said...

I always enjoyed reading his stuff and I suppose Kathy is right, over at the LATOC they are probably going stark raving mad with their tin foil hats.

Anyways bur I agree that predictions are usually flawed. If only because based on available info and if wrong info, it changes results. So I agree that it is very hard to make anything close to an accurate prediction. It does stink that many of these guys stick their neck out there and it gets the ax, but guys like him are how I found this subject matter.

Come to think of it, I remember a 60 minutes about garbage dumps and how in the early 80’s everyone was freaking out saying we don’t have enough dump space and then the innovation of better compaction, gas burn off, etc made the dumps able to hold much more. I forget the figure but something like 10x more than in the past estimates. Don’t quote me on the numbers though. Point being that a new field here and there plus Iraq putting some production online can quickly change the paradigm. Jeffers points this out alot. like watching stock charts, don't look at the day, week, month, but the trend. What is the saying, "don't fight the trend, the trend is your friend" or maybe you like "don't fight the current, ride the wave"

Joseph said...

Matt will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I think the stress must have killed him. He put himself out on the limb with his predictions of a huge vent of oil in the gulf which turned out to be false. He lost all of his hard won credibility on this one big bad call. He also shorted the hell out of BP stock and it must have hurt him financially. Somehow he either jumped or was pushed from Simmons Intl. - his own baby. He had a lot on his mind.

I met him and know he was a straight shooter and very cerebral man. He had contributed much to this world and I am for one very thankful to the work he did on the Peak Oil front. Unfortunately it ended poorly for him. This doesn't diminish in any way his greatness.

Best wishes and condolences to his family our thoughts go out to them during this difficult time.

Love to all,
Chuck H.

"In the end you lose everything, your wits last."

bureaucrat said...

Heart attack IN a hot tub ...

BOSTON (Reuters) – Matthew Simmons, who rattled the energy industry by arguing the world was rapidly approaching peak oil production capacity, died at his home in North Haven, Maine, the energy research group he founded said on Monday.

He died suddenly on Sunday, his Ocean Energy Institute said in a statement.

Simmons, 67, a former adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush, had a heart attack while in a hot tub, local media reported, citing a report by the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

In his 2005 book "Twilight in the Desert," Simmons argued Saudi Arabia's oil reserves were nearing the highest levels of production they were capable of achieving, after which point the world's yearly oil supply would begin to decline.

While Simmons' views on peak oil were regarded as somewhat controversial, he drew even more attention for a June 9 interview with Fortune magazine, in which he predicted BP Plc would be driven bankrupt in "about a month" as the cleanup costs for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill mounted.

A week later, Simmons & Co International (SCI), the investment bank that Simmons founded in 1974, said it was cutting ties with its founder, who until that point had served as chairman emeritus.

Simmons said he was retiring from SCI to devote his time to The Ocean Energy Institute, a think tank and venture capital fund addressing the challenges of U.S. offshore renewable energy.

"Matt Simmons was an innovative thinker who pushed ideas that have the potential to yield a more environmentally and economically sustainable future for Maine and the world," Maine Governor John Baldacci said in a statement.

"Our state has been viewed as a leader in alternative energy in part because of the groundbreaking work spearheaded by Matt Simmons and the Ocean Energy Institute," Baldacci said.