Matt Simmons, Author of "Twilight in the Desert" and Peak Oil Speaker, Dies at Age 67

We are saddened by the news that Matt Simmons died suddenly on Sunday, August 8, at his summer home in Maine. Matt Simmons was an energy investment banker and spoke frequently about peak oil. Matt was Chairman of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil-USA (ASPO-USA) Advisory Board. Matt was also founder and chairman of Simmons & Company International, and author of Twilight in the Desert.

Anyone who has attended a meeting of the ASPO-USA will remember hearing Matt speak. One of Matt's big concerns was the lack of availability of transparent data with respect to oil and gas reserves, as explained in slides such as this one (from his talk at the 2009 ASPO-USA conference).

In his view (and in ours, too), way too many people hear about the huge reported reserves of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, and assume that this oil is really available for extraction. Matt makes the point that these reserves, and many others around the world, have not been audited. In fact, they seem to be political numbers, so we cannot depend on them. He also points out that we also do not have detail data with respect to historical oil extraction from individual fields in the Middle East, so we really do not know how close to decline Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries really are.

In 2005, Matt Simmons wrote a book called Twilight in the Desert. In it, he summarized what he learned about Saudi Arabian oil production by reading 200 academic papers. He concluded from his analysis that the oil extraction techniques being used there were techniques that one might use if the fields were quite depleted. Because of this, he doubted that we should believe stories that Saudi oil production can be greatly expanded. Instead, he raised the possibility that in the not too distant future, Saudi oil production will suddenly decline. Matt's research underlying the book was no doubt behind his concern that oil reserves and oil production rates are not audited.

Another thing Matt is known for is his educational graphics about "what is really going on" with respect to oil extraction. For example, in his talk at the 2009 ASPO--USA conference, he shows this graphic of the amount of conventional oil discovered by decade.

It is pretty clear from the above graphic that "conventional" oil discoveries have declined since the 1960s, suggesting that most of the oil in liquid form in the world has already been discovered. While one can argue that there are other kinds of oil (oil sands, oil shale, and other non-conventional oil) that are not included in this graph, these other oil sources can be extracted only very slowly (and at great expense). Because of this, we cannot expect their growth in extraction to offset a decline in conventional oil production.

Matt also is known for showing individual field graphics, such as these from the North Sea.

With these graphics, he illustrated that oil production from an individual field tends to decline quite quickly. Because of this pattern, an oil company needs to keep discovering new oil reserves, if they are to keep production up. Oil companies know this, and attempt to "replace reserves" each year. But with few new liquid oil discoveries, oil companies are finding this more and more difficult. A recent rule change allows very heavy oil reserves such as oil sands (which can be extracted only very slowly) to be included in reserves, making oil companies look better, but not necessarily allowing oil companies to keep annual production at the level it has been previously.

Matt has spoken to numerous high-level audiences about peak oil, and, until recently, these presentations were available on the Internet. Thus, he has had significant influence as a speaker and educator. Matt has also appeared frequently on television, discussing peak oil and his view of the implications of peak oil.

Art Berman is one of the people on our staff who has known Matt well. Art writes:

The first time that I heard Matt Simmons speak on peak oil was in February 2006. He gave a lunch presentation to the Houston Chapter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) called “Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy.” As an oil industry geologist, I came to the talk as a skeptic. I believed at the time that there was plenty of oil in the world as long as the price was high enough to justify the effort to explore and produce it. I also thought that the identification of a specific year in which oil production was a silly idea.

What I learned at that meeting was that peak oil is not about determining a specific year in which peak production is reached. It is more about planning how the world can effectively make a transition from a relatively cheap and abundant supply of oil to an increasingly expensive and scarce supply. I also learned that it is about the decreasing quality of the crude oil now available compared with past decades. Also, he convinced me that there is an unmistakeable relationship between the price of oil and worldwide economic prosperity, and that the long recession of the 1980s was largely due to the spike in crude oil prices that followed the embargoes of the 1970s. In other words, peak oil more a question of rate, quality and price than it is about the peak itself. I came to that meeting expecting to hear a fanatic and, instead, heard a clear voice of reason backed by a lot of data. While Matt didn’t completely persuade me of all the points that he made that afternoon, he started me thinking in a different way.

I wrote and called Matt many times over the last four and a half years. To my initial surprise, he always returned my calls and e-mails, and was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge and experience without pushing an ideology. As my research on shale gas economics and decline rates progressed, Matt encouraged and supported me. He invited me to visit with him in his office last fall, and spent several hours asking questions and making suggestions. When his company published a view of shale gas economics that differed from my position, he wrote to say that he was in an emeritus position and often disagreed with the research group.

I last heard from Matt three weeks ago. The Oil Drum was preparing to post an article that disagreed with his comments about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and I wanted to understand the evidence behind his position, and to let him know about our planned rebuttal. He left a voice message saying that he would be unavailable for several days but very much wanted to discuss the subject. His death was announced before we could have that discussion. While I disagreed with some his views on the Gulf oil spill, it was clear from his message that he was completely sincere and truly believed that this was a terrible disaster with great human consequences.

The energy community will miss Matt Simmons as an important spokesman about many topics and not just peak oil. I will miss a him as a patient and generous teacher and mentor.

Media in the United States liked to paint Matt as the spokesperson for peak oil, but the peak oil community is sufficiently diverse that this is not really an accurate assessment of the situation. For example, in August 2005, Matt Simmons made a bet for $10,000 with New York Times columnist John Tierney that the price of oil would exceed $200 for the year 2010. Not all peak "oilers" would agree with this view. Some believe that the timing will be different from that underlying his bet; others expect the impact of peak oil will be recession and high rates of debt default. Recession and debt defaults (similar to what we have recently been experiencing) will result in depressed demand--but not necessarily very high oil prices.

Matt also generated a lot of media interest with his recent views on the oil spill. We at The Oil Drum did not agree with these, and several of staff members put together a post explaining our reasoning.

While we at The Oil Drum did not always agree with Matt, we appreciate his many contributions and will miss him very much.

A Few Related Posts

Twilight in the Desert - Heading Out - June 2005

CNBC: Matt Simmons and John Kilduff Discuss the GAO Report and the Ramifications of a Plateauing Oil Supply with Bob Pisani - Prof. Goose - March 2007

Matt Simmons on Bloomberg: Peak Oil is Now and Oil Is WAY Too Cheap - Prof. Goose - May 2007

Matt Simmons' Video on Oil and Gas Markets - Gail the Actuary - March 2009

A Critical Examination of Matt Simmons’ Claims on the Deepwater Spill - Robert Rapier - July 2010

RIP Matt Simmons.

And this is a VERY NICE writeup.

What Lfeather said.

The Oil Drum was also quite reserved in its critique of Simmon's claims about the Gulf Spill.

But it shows the damage "excessive zeal" for a subject can do to one's reputation. Simmons unwound a lot of the respect he had achieved over years of lecturing and writing on Peak Oil by going overboard on the situation in the Gulf.

Of course, BP's persnickety clampdown on information greatly fed the speculation. Where information is absent, rumors will multiply.

RIP Mr. Simmons. May flights of angels waft thee to thy rest.

A note to Posters.

This is not the time or place to begin wild speculation about the cause of Mr Simmons' death. Eds will be pretty ruthless deleting such comments and any other comments not on topic.

Right on, Euan

Matt's was a unique voice: he had extensive first-hand experience with the oil & gas industry, a practical-minded view of the various aspects of energy security, and a wonderfully incisive turn-of-phrase.

Although he may have begun his peak oil analysis with a focus on reserves, he quickly broadened the discussion to the above-ground complexities, which was both correct and helpful to the larger peak oil movement (since we are often accused of being fixated on below-ground issues only).
He regularly reminded us of what he called "the rust factor" and "the grey factor," both of which are increasingly significant.

Speaking of rust, thanks to Lotus for alerting us to this:

So............."Wild" "speculation" will not be "tolerated". How about "calm" "theorizing"?

Is that "allowed"?

I remember in 2004 meeting Matt in a small meeting to discuss Annual Bonus targets prior to a board meeting. He looked at our production and other targets and asked about our crude price assumption. We told him it was based on $50 oil (NYMEX futures pointed to $50 oil - even though it was less at the time). His comment "it should be based on $150 oil" and went on to draw a supply/demand chart showing a shortage and then followed with "even if Saudi's produced more - oil tankers can't handle it"... he rattled off all the numbers from memory and made a good case.

He was a good board member, very respectful and one of those when he spoke everyone stopped to listen intently.


For an even better tribute - warmer and more humanistic - see Michael Ruppert:

Love, Arithmetic, and Common Sense

I was very moved by Michael Ruppert's tribute to Matt Simmons. And perhaps Matt's last months in life were overwhelmed by his grief at watching our civilization choose to commit suicide.

If kunstler's The Long Emergency was Peak Oil rhetoric Matt's Twilight in The Desert was the facts. Unadulterated. Any lingering doubts left after reading 'Emergency were quickly dispelled by the laser clarity of Matt's analysis of the Saudi oil phenomena. Over the year's since I have always looked forward to reading or watching his latest articles or interviews. I will greatly miss his presence on the PO scene. Sad that he died with this cloud of confusion surrounding his recent pronouncements re the Gulf but he has left a great legacy as a seer of times to come.

I first met Matt on November 1, 2005, at a joint presentation in Dallas by Matt & Jim Kunstler (which incidentally was the first time that Matt & JHK met). I've probably talked to Matt half a dozen time since then, and exchanged numerous emails.My work on net oil exports was largely inspired by early work that Matt did on domestic consumption in key oil exporting countries. Like everyone else, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of his sudden death.

Here is a link to a transcript of a joint interview with Matt & Jim on 11/1/2005:

This is so sad. 67 is too early an age at which to die these days. And he had just begun investing in a wind-to-ammonia pilot project in Maine.

He will certainly be missed in the Peak Oil crowd.

I hope Al Bartlett, now 87, lives at least another 10 years longer so that his strong messages about overpopulation can find a larger audience when the next global crisis hits. I'm sure no one who knows what's going on would want Al to die anytime soon.

I'm shocked to hear this news.

Twilight, together with Party's over were two of the first resource depletion books I read.

We met a few times at ASPO conferences, most notably at an Oil Drum session on Ghawar and Saudi Arabia where myself and Stuart Staniford presented on the findings of an epic few months of blogging. I also met Walter Youngquist that day.

My condolences to his friends and family.


I never had a chance to meet Matt Simmons, and that's something I'll always regret. His work on peak oil came at a crucial time for me as well as for the peak oil movement as a whole; his work was one of the things that convinced me that it was worth trying to write and blog on energy futures, and I doubt I'm the only one for whom that was true.

Condolences to his family and friends -- not least because, the peak oil scene being what it is, they're going to have to put up with months if not years of conspiracy-theory tinfoil around this very painful occurrence.

Like a lot of people on this board, it was Matt Simmons that got me thinking about Peak Oil to begin with about 3 years ago. I've been fascinated (or is it burdened?) by the topic ever since.

Thanks Matt.


Twilight in the Desert was not the first book on peak oil that I read, but I believe that it exemplifies the importance of asking questions instead of blindly following an unsustainable energy path. His research and conclusions for Saudi oil, while not infallible, inspired me to do my own research on this topic. Although I only exchanged a few emails with him and I only met him twice, I found him to be very warm and supportive. His voice will be missed.

Here is another vintage TOD post, an interview with Matt by Stuart Staniford:

My condoleances to family and friends. I admire his concern for our energy predicament and especially his courage to act in a positive way upon that concern.

Very sad to hear of Mr. Simmons death. May he rest in peace and my condolences to his friends and family. At the wider scale, it is also tragic to have lost such a well known, and widely respected voice in the Peak Oil debate, but I'm sure there will be others to take his place.

Quote: ""Do me a favor. Calculate how long it would take to fill a lake the size of the State of Washington to 500' deep at 120k bbl/day. I'll wait.""

The validity of what Simmons said does not matter, what matters is that many people believed him and may have been acting on his 'lies'. For a person of his stature, (I had never heard of him until I found this website in May), to be saying he's shorting BP, that BP is lying, that the govt is lying,, or this one, 'breathe methane and you die', etc., is enough rattle the cages. I guess he couldn't back up what he was saying, but his youtube videos were plastered all over the internet and I can tell that ordinary people strongly supported him.

If my mother were alive, she would slap me up beside the head if I ever said anything bad about the recently deceased, so I'll just brush lightly. Simmons was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, so I don't know what he really was or what his motives were.

Matt, thank you for your controversial opinions, RIP.

Speculating now on his health and their relationship to his more recent controversial statements, if his arteries were clogged perhaps he got less oxygen to the brain and thought a little less calmly and clearly making statements he might not have made if he were more healthy. Perhaps a bypass etc. would have kept him making more well thought out statements. We all have to keep our health in mind and a calm state of mind when we look at what we are saying to see if we are to far off what others say or cannot prove or confirm what we are saying. I think talk of alzheimer and such is nonsense at his age but a lack of a healthy heart might have some sort of effect on his meantla capacity and should have been a warning of sorts about his health. Too bad the technical people here are mostly engineers and not doctors, maybe somebody could have given him some advice. I think people getting excited a lot can get heart attacks and he seemed to be over retirement age and still not slowing down and getting excited a lot.

I am sure he did a lot of good and meant well and "May the lord bless his soul" as they say.

Excellent point galacticsurfer , I did a little bit of work on this subject last night:

High blood pressure dangers: Hypertension's effects on your body
High blood pressure is a risk factor for more than heart disease. Discover what complications high blood pressure can cause and how to control it.
By Mayo Clinic staff

Damage to your heart
Your heart pumps blood to your entire body. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage your heart in a number of ways, such as:

■Coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease affects the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Arteries narrowed by coronary artery disease don't allow blood to flow freely through your arteries, which can cause chest pain (angina). The condition also occurs when blood flow through your arteries becomes blocked, usually because of atherosclerosis. When blood can't flow freely to your heart, you can experience chest pain, a heart attack or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). People with high blood pressure who have a heart attack are more likely to die of that heart attack than are people who don't have high blood pressure.
■Enlarged left heart. High blood pressure forces your heart to work harder than necessary in order to pump blood to the rest of your body. This causes the left ventricle to enlarge or stiffen (left ventricular hypertrophy) — just as your biceps get bigger when you lift weights. This enlargement or stiffening limits the ventricle's ability to pump blood to your body. This condition increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
■Heart failure. Over time, the strain on your heart caused by high blood pressure can cause your heart muscle to weaken and work less efficiently. Eventually, your overwhelmed heart simply begins to wear out and fail.

Damage to your brain
Just like your heart, your brain depends on a nourishing blood supply to function properly and survive. But high blood pressure can cause several problems, including:

■Dementia. Dementia is a brain disease resulting in impaired thinking, speaking, reasoning, memory, vision and movement. There are a number of causes of dementia. One cause, vascular dementia, can result from narrowing and blockage of the arteries that supply blood to the brain. It can also result from strokes caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. In either case, high blood pressure may be the culprit. High blood pressure that occurs even as early as middle age can increase the risk of dementia in later years.
■Mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment is a transition stage between the changes in understanding and memory that come with aging and the more serious problems caused by Alzheimer's disease. Like dementia, it can result from blocked blood flow to the brain when high blood pressure damages arteries. This condition can affect language, attention, critical thinking, reading, writing, reaction time and memory.

Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis

By Mayo Clinic staff

Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. Over time, however, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. This process is called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats in and on your artery walls (plaques), which can restrict blood flow. These plaques can also burst, causing a blood clot. Although atherosclerosis is often considered a heart problem, it can affect arteries anywhere in your body. Atherosclerosis is a preventable and treatable condition.

Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease that may begin as early as childhood. Although the exact cause is unknown, atherosclerosis may start with damage or injury to the inner layer of an artery. The damage may be caused by:

■High blood pressure
■High cholesterol, often from getting too much cholesterol in your diet
■Smoking and other sources of nicotine

Hi beach mommy,

I suppose my eallier comment didn't quite meet the precise standard in effect today in discussing illness and disease and famous people.

I will simply add to your excellent comment comment that we should keep Occam's Razor in mind in discussing events and happenings brought about by as yet undetermined causes.

I strongly reccomend that anyone seriously interested in actually understanding the current news follow up your links by reading a couple of books that were reccomended to me by physicians who looked after a couple of my elderly relatives during thier sunset years:

"The Thirty Six Hour Day" and "There's Still a Person in There".

OFM~I'm sorry I missed your earlier post and just got back to responding, I try to apply Occam's Razor or my version KISS (keep it simple stupid) to everything I evaluate, sometimes I'm off but it is rare that the simplest thoery isn't the answer. I see people struggle in so many areas of their life by trying to make things more complicated then they really are. Life is already complicated enough without adding more chaos IMO

I love to read while sitting on the beach and will check out the book you recommended:)


beachmommy, agreed, occams razor leads nowhere other than your post, and you put it well, pretty much every aberration of the last year is covered with no real need to dig much deeper.

I'd heard good things about zerohedge but after reading their inane posters' inane comments re big conspiracies re his death, which is as you note such an easily understandable and explainable event, I've decided to ignore that site in the future, the Simmons thread I read made the Drudge report look intelligent.

Just to add, consider the Texas diet and lifestyle, steaks, a nice shot of bourbon or whiskey, year after year, executive breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner after executive breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner, doesn't really take much imagination to picture the state of the old arteries at that point.

But I'm glad Simmons got his Twilight in the Desert written, and that he got to bend the ears of so many out there who might otherwise not have paid much attention, not many of us can make that kind of difference, so I'm glad he gave it a try. Nothing like a bit of an attempt at intellectual honesty now and then to wipe away the nonsense.


These two books are not fun reading at all, at all-but they are layman's bibles,written by pros in the field , and cover all the ground your links cover as well as Alzhiemers, which in both books is the primary topic.

Incidentally, those who think Alzhiemers is "only for old folks" should investigate "early onset"and "Alzhiemers".

I mentioned what had happened to my daughter, a nurse.

She instantly said: "progressive ischemia".

I think that this is where a heart or other problem reduces brain blood supply causing cognitive issues, and then ....

saddened and shocked to hear this

This is sad news. All the more as his prediction about the "Saudi oil shock and the world economy" has actually materialized, but was obscured by the global financial crisis. Peak oil since 2005 and an accumulated debt crisis had converged.

It was in the first half of 2008, that Saudi Arabia could not produce enough oil to keep oil prices down. The problem culminated in July 2008, when extra demand from China for the Olympic games broke the camel's neck as can be seen in the graph in my recent post:

He repeatedly warned of OPEC's paper barrels which are the oil reserve equivalent of those derivatives which are still floating around in the banking system....

His slide shows are here:

This is now the 2nd great peak oiler who died. We should not forget Dr. Samsam Bakhtiari. His 2006 testimony to the Australian Senate is here:

M King Hubbert died 1n 1989. L. F. Buz Ivanhoe who worked with Hubbert and established the Hubbert Center Newsletter, died in 2003, shortly after the death of Garrett Hardin

Matt Simmons was one of the giants in the field on whose shoulders we all stood to see farther and thus act as early sooth seers and sayers of the oncoming PO tsunami.

Rest in peace Matt. It is far better to have not seen the promised land.

Like most here I have come to respect Matt Simmons and often cite him as an experienced voice of reason. I thumbed through Twilight and found the data to be too heavy for my limited analytic skills, but I had no doubt that his work was thorough and considered. I have learned a great deal from Matt about the oil industry through his presentations and slide shows. Although he never heard of or met me, his courage, along with many others, in speaking out about peak oil has inspired me to change my life in ways that I can scarcely believe. I am much happier now than I have ever been and Matt Simmons played no small part. Thank you Matt.

Matt's power point presentations are clear, to the point, and down to earth. His analysis over the years has given strength and credibility to the peak oil discussion. I hope others in his field will find the courage to follow in his footsteps._will

I am truly saddened by Matt's passing. I just returned from my father's funeral to learn this, so many mentors are passing.

Twilight in the Desert was instrumental in bringing my thoughts from a cloudy oil is running out 1970's schooling to the certainty of peak today.

I had the fortuitous good fortune to be seated at Matt's table during the 2008 ASPO conference. I agree with Art above in that Matt was a patient, gentle teacher, offering comments, explanations, or support to a long line of people who approached during the conference.

He will be sorely missed.

I was shocked to hear that Matt Simmons has died.

With his death a powerful and charismatic voice fell silent. I always remember him in one of his interviews, when he interruted the lady from the TV-station, who expressed her wories about high oilprices two years ago: "But its only four cents a cup..." His statements like this were always well balanced and catchy and I was each time looking forward when there was a new Matt Simmons-interview in the internet.

I think the peak oil movement will have a while to fill the gap he leaves behind, may his soul rest in peace,


There is very good evidence that the growing sense of mortality most people feel as they grow older is translated directly into projected feelings of resource scarcity and social, economic and/or moral decline.

Naturally, most people adopt this twilight perception and couch it within their psychological schema according to the prism through which they view their world, for example professional and personal skill sets and life experience. Given Mr. Simmons' peculiarly outlying statements during the BP spill, his professional role as an investment banker and his history in the energy business, his late statements are really no surprise when viewed in the context of illness that can befall people in later life.

Even Mr. Simmons' book, Twilight in the Desert (2006), could be viewed as the product of a mind nearer to the end of its productive life than to its time of sharpest acuity, especially in the context of his recent claims regarding events in the Gulf. And especially viewed in that light.

Other than that, I didn't know the man, so I cannot presume to judge him, except by his behaviors, claims and work. I can't help but see Mr. Simmons in the light he projected himself. In the end, he seems to have jumped the shark. To me, that casts some doubt on his credibility, perhaps even going back before Twilight in the Desert.

And, as if on cue, we have this today:


There is also at least as much good evidence that the young carry with them an unreasoned sense of immortality too. The ones who live through their "youth" usually learn something from the "near misses" and add it to their experience base, and perhaps temper their future decisions based on that experience. Very rarely though do people learn thru other peoples experiences that's why we repeat History so much...

Simmons may have "cried wolf" a bit too vehemently (or got wrong information in the information vacuum that existed, and still exists), but that does not mean that there is no "Wolf". The article you cite simply means that the head of Aramco (or any others), has absolutely no incentive to state what actual reserves are. They know that as long as we think "the party" is still on, the western world (particularly the U.S.) will continue along sleepily until we do discover that "the wolf is at the door". Then, and only then, comes the panic.

It should also be noted that the Saudi's etc. also enjoy the Military Protection which would quickly vanish if the actual extent of reserves is disclosed...

Agreed on the immortality of the young. I'm probably guilty of dual awareness as I stand here at my own mid life. As to the Saudi military protection, we've already staked our claim where the oil is: Iraq.

I absolutely agree that Peak Oil is a real phenomenon and something humans should be preparing for in the long term. I absolutely, unequivocally agree that the "wolf" exists.

I just don't agree with the causality, the breezy talk of running out of oil that's tossed about like running out of milk or strawberry jam. Oil supply is woven tightly into our political and economic matrix and those two forces will always govern oil availability; who gets it and for what price.

Even if the U.S. EIA is off by a quarter or so, 1,000 billion barrels is quite a load of oil. That's 34 years' worth at 80 billion a day, I think, assuming some conservation going forward.
Now is the time to be thinking about this and I think the message is getting through to everyone now.

I'm beginning to crystallize the idea that if we run out of oil, it will be due to economic and political gyrations and not an outright shortage of any kind.
See also: "The 1973 Oil Crisis."

Look at the social and economic declines that are happening right now.
Are they not a result of Peak Oil or oil shortages -- they are a result of money shortages.

The declines we see playing out NOW are a result of a few factors, probably the largest being the housing bubble collapse, with its subsequent shocks to the financial system in concert with the oil price shock that was the sucker punch that really dropped the economy to the canvas, beginning in July 2008.

There is sparse analysis that agrees with this assessment: , BUT that price shock happened right in time with the housing shock, so it kind of comes out in the wash. The oil price hit surely didn't help matters.

But once again, that price spike was not due to any sort of oil shortage or peaking oil production -- it was strictly a function of market manipulation.

1,000 billion barrels is a lot of oil, unless the oligarchs or powers that be or etc., decide to turn off the taps, which I consider much more likely than the oil running out.
For the foreseeable futures of most of us alive now, for purposes of most of our lifespans, the oil problem is a political and economic one, not one of physical supply.
Same as it ever has been.

In the end, we here in the west have a long way to fall before we're bathing in plastic buckets. Some of us can see it coming already, which is fine. But there's a fine line between intelligent prescience and organic illness coloring our perceptions of reality. Mr. Simmons saw a small piece of the picture and he illuminated it boldly, much to his credit and to our enlightenment.

My sympathies to Mr. Simmons' family, friends and acolytes.
I worry more about the politics and economics of oil than I do the supply at this point.

Good job relating the political reality to the reality of world oil production. There is a reason the Saudis have kept their oil data to themselves. Political reality is as much at fault for much of the world's poverty as international consequences of the free market.

How we deal with the present capitalist/socialist debate and how we apply research and development are part of the peak oil equation insofar as the timing of various reductions in standard of living. These aspects are unknown and while oil production will become increasingly more costly (and the climate will change) what the actual outcomes are at any given time are difficult to determine.

Should we be taking these future concerns seriously and taking serious steps today? My answer (even as an optimist) is absolutely! I just have no confidence in peoples' models' predictions of when such and such will happen, and in what country.

Condolences to the family of M. Simmons.


...has absolutely no incentive to state what actual reserves are.

agreed, and "acutal reserves", what the hell ever that means, could also be understated.

The above quoted link says:

The head of Saudi Aramco has brushed aside 'peak oil' concerns, saying the world has plentiful supply of oil and gas, with a vast quantity of known reserves yet to be tapped and additional resources still to be discovered.

But read this:

Saudi Aramco's crude oil exports peaked in 2005

Saudi King ordered oil exploration to cease. But will it matter?

The news of Matt Simmons' death was saddening to me. His book TWILIGHT IN THE DESERT completely changed my way of thinking about oil. It prompted me to get serious about investing in conventional oil here in Alberta, on the grounds that anything in increasingly short supply could only be a good investment. Alberta pumps one-third of the conventional crude it did at its peak in 1976 despite three times as many wells.

It's too bad about the last few months of his life when he made some silly remarks about the Gulf of Mexico spill. It seems obvious now that it wasn't the real Matt speaking but the ghost of some sort of medical problem. His book still stands as his monument though.

So sorry to hear of his passing. I truly enjoyed his hard work and dedication to the education of the masses.


Like everyone else, I was shocked by the news. I don't know that I would have ever started writing had I not read Twilight. While I clearly had points of disagreement with Matt, he made a life-long impact on me. My condolences to friends and family.

I got a double-dose of tragic news yesterday when right after I found out about Matt, I also learned that my friend Ron Johnston - CEO of Expander Energy in Calgary - is lost at sea. I was headed up to visit him in a couple of weeks:

I spent most of the day yesterday in shock over these two events.

Oh, Robert, I'm sorry. Nobody needs those kinds of days. My condolences to you, as well as to both families.
My intro to Matt was End of Suburbia. I had learned about PO while volunteering on the McGovern campaign in '72, and had already started to see an occasional "somebody is short of oil" article before Jason Bradford brought EOS to town, so I wasn't terribly surprised by the message.
The person who impressed me the most was Matt. Here's this guy who is the complete opposite of me... a hippie who became anti-Big Oil after the Santa Barbara blowout.... and he's saying "We're just about there, folks". Not "it'll last for 200 years"? Wow.

Thanks Matt. RIP

I am saddened by Matt's untimely death. I first started communicating with him in 1998, actually before he was heavily on the peak oil bandwagon. Like Gail, I found him very accessible and open. His writings in the early 90's were about the conundrum of the oil industry claiming they were going to increase production dramatically, while at the same time not building the new infrastructure necessary and letting the upstream and downstream infrastructure rust. I think he had trouble reconciling that until his discussions, in the late 90's, with Colin Campbell, put the peak oil bug in his head. He was a brilliant man with incredible analytical skills and i also believe the strange behavior near the end of his life was an aberration. We'll never know now what caused it, but it does not detract, for me, from his earlier work which was incredibly meaningful and instructive. RIP

What a shock. 67, far too young for a man with such passion and heart. Certainly not the only one to do so, but what I learned from him changed how I look at life here on this amazing planet we call Earth.

I first met Matt on the phone in 2006 when I contacted his office regarding an interview for a documentary I had just begun making. Not knowing what to expect, I asked his assistant what the procedure was for requesting an interview. I explained that I was doing a film on peak oil and energy security in the 21st century. At that point she asked if I could hold the line for a minute. About 20 seconds later the hold-audio goes away and I hear...”Hi this is Matt.”

We spoke for about half an hour about history and the state of affairs; life in general, & how transportation fuel was essentially the oxygen for the world’s economic lungs. At the end of the conversation he said, “I’m going to ask Judy to set a date and we’ll see you then.”

I was amazed at his accessibility, his openness and the importance he personally gave this subject, oil depletion. I knew he was a man whose time was quite valuable and found myself really taken by the ease with which he opened up to a complete stranger.

When I arrived at his office in Houston it was 1:30 in the afternoon. I was expecting Matt to sit for about an hour to do the interview. He gave us the rest of the day. Again, quite giving.

This experience has always framed some of the more controversial thing that he said over the years but at the end of the day he will always be someone who helped turn my head in a new direction and I will never look back.

My best to his family and may he rest in peace.

how transportation fuel was essentially the oxygen for the world’s economic lungs.

The use of this metaphor highlights an important missing element in many PO discussions: oxygen has no substitutes, but oil does. At times he understood that, and talked about measures that should be taken to reduce our reliance on rapidly depleting oil, and at other times he seems to have forgotten it, and framed PO in more disastrous terms.

Good, valid sequence of comments. Demonstrates again the excellent overall taste of Drummers.


We can be rather civilized when there is occasion, can't we?

Mr. Simmons was obviously a gentleman among gentlemen and a man who did his fellows a great service.

I never had an opportunity to meet him , or even to hear him speak, but I can remember the day I read "Twilight in the Desert".

It was hot and humid and I ducked into the local Barnes and Noble in the early afternoon, got a drink and a pastry and hit the shelves I usually go for first-science and nature oriented books.I usually pick up four or five and browse thru them and buy one or two .

I was still there at closing time, deep into "Twilight in the Desert" and I finished it at home before I went to sleep.

Apparent cause of death:


Simmons' body was found Sunday night in his hot tub, investigators said.

An autopsy by the state medical examiner's office concluded Monday that he died from accidental drowning with heart disease as a contributing factor.

The Times-Picayune obituary linked above includes a guestbook where these appreciative remarks could be posted. There are 25 comments so far.

What a shock - so sad. Only 67 - wow! That should remind us all that we had better make the most of the time we have right now, there are no guarantees when it comes to longevity.

I point people to the videos of him delivering a number of his
presentations with the caveat .. turn the volume up and listen hard ..
he has alot to say in a short time and thinks and speaks faster than
a horse race commentator.

Peace Mr Simmons.
My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

I first met Matt in 1989 when he presented an analysis of the state of the drilling industry and what it would take to get it back to profitibility. Of course, his presentation was the insightful analysis backed up with superb graphs, that we have all become used to. Because I have a hobby of checking out predictions, I followed the drilling business with unusual interest over the next few years. And, Matt's analysis was correct on what it took to slowly evolve back to profitibility.

I learned a lot from Matt's analyses of oil and natural gas, productive capability through the years. You might not always have agreed with what he said, but if you ignored what he said, you did so at your own peril.

Matt Simmons' Twilight in the Desert placed him in the pantheon of heroic thinkers about the energy system. He taught us the value of using meticuous evidence to question conventional wisdom. The dialog on this board today shows that we've internalized his message.

Mentions here of the Ocean Energy Institute caught my eye as new, so I looked at
It is fitting to see Simmons' most recent expression of his work to move the energy system forward in the face of new realities.

My take is that Simmons must have been a strong optimist despite the evidence of great difficulties ahead. To me this is a heartening inference, and reason for courage to work toward a future where we in fact do get there from here.

In this regard, it's worth also noting this report on how Portugul is doing on its energy quest, to produce 60% of its electricity and 31% of its total energy from renewable resources by 2020.

Wow...did this come totally out of left field or what? I've been a registered user at TOD for more than four years, but rarely comment as really I don't have huge amounts to contribute to the conversation. But this news gets me out of lurker status.

Every once in a while, you hear of a "celebrity" death that just hits you, as if a member of the family died. For me there was Gene Siskel, Paul Hester (drummer of Crowded House, one of my fave bands) George Carlin...and now Matt.

I mean, I never met the man, but...his thinking, his poised and data driven explantion of Peak Oil, and the gravitas he carried were really inspiring. He, Mike Ruppert, Richard Heinberg, James Kunstler...they changed my life. Hearing his optimism over the Ocean Energy project was so heartening too - it's one of the most promising projects to deal with a post peak world I've heard. Yes, his pronouncements on the Gulf Oil situation were indeed head scratching, but I'm not in any way going to besmirch decades of amazing work because of the last three months of the man's life.

Basically (awww Matt...your favorite word! LOL) he will be sorely missed.

Remember people who have passed for their best moments, not their last moments. His books speak for themselves. The latest controversy should soon be forgotten and he should be remembered for the many years of work he has done.
My condolences to his family and his friends here at TOD.

Thank you Matt Simmons for your vigilant, informed and concerned messages these past years. Most would have just taken the money and retired into quiet obscurity. Matt, you will be missed, but you and your council, for better or worse, will *NOT* be forgotten. May God Bless and Keep You.

RIP Matt Simmons.

Whether you agree with his actions or not, he tried to inform the public about peak oil and oil production.

Matt Simmons was one of the contributors to the Hubbert Center Newsletter.

Like many others, Matt Simmons played a huge role in my views on the future of energy production. I remember him being the voice of reason and cautious optomism compared to Heinberg and Kunstler's gloom and doom in End of Suburbia. To Matt Simmons friends and family, my condolences.

General TOD comment: lately I'm seeing messages like:

A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, or you can continue to see if the script will complete.

Is this just me?

Or are TOD pages becoming jam packed full of 'stuff'?

I have the same problem - it's a pain.

RIP Matt, and thanks for everything.

We will miss your intelligence, courage, goodness, and willingness to teach. And, optimism You were a brave, good man. Thank you. God Bless.


Sad news indeed.

I shook his hand and complimented "Twilight" and his talk at ASPO Sacramento. Very gracious and humble guy for someone so passionate.

RIP, Mr. Simmons.

At 70, I'm very much aware of how quickly friends can fade, or lose their way. Happens all the time. As the previous poster pointed out, "Remember them for their best, not their last."

I agree. RIP, Matt. I'll miss your explanation of what you meant.

As readers can probably see by the comments above, Matt was way ahead of his time - already plotting out the details of what Peak Oil would look like way back in 1990s.

I probably started follwing what Simmons had to say around 2003, then went back and reviewed his reviews, such as his retake on Limits to Growth. Even though in 1972 I was personally advised of many details of the LTG computer model by a MIT professor who worked on LTG project, I found that Matt had surprisingly grasped many details of LTG model and provided a very good update.

If his death is in any way a positive, may it remind us that even almost 40 years after LTG, and about 10 years after Matt review of LTG, that our time to do something with our knowledge of coming resource shortages is limited, and it's best we make the most of what time we have remaining while the lights are still on.

And are we still willing to dismiss what he was saying about the Gulf? what about this?
or this?
or this?

I still don't quite know how to take all of this. I am very, very sad about the way this man has been discussed, even here on this forum, at times.

Why can we not simply get to plain truth and facts? There must be s reason. Here in Alberta half the people I know work in the oil and gas industry, and they are good people. But is there something rotten at the top? regards, Helga

You bet there is.

Thank you, Helga.

The only things we know for sure about the BP oil spill are that the drilling rig burned and sank, a lot of oil got spilled, a lot of fish, birds, and mammals died, and a lot of lies have been put out by authorities who ought not to be in the business of lying.

So the sneering dismissals of Simmons' thoughts about the blowout, on this thread as elsewhere, just stink.

Simmons was right about many things. So I will wait (a good while, I fear) for real data and real information before I presume about his later thoughts.

In the meantime, his clear and insightful approach to matters, and his passionate concern, would be a model for anybody.

I am of a mind to recall Newton - 'If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants'.

We all saw a little further because of Matt Simmons.

One of the best comments so far about Mr. Simmons, to carry all of us who stood on his shoulders took a man of incredible stature, I was stunned to hear of our loss and it will live with me for a long while.

Mr. Simmons (sorry, the way I was brought up a true sign of respect for an individual was to use the honourific, I could never have imagined meeting him and calling him by his first name...) was one of the very few individuals that I would have liked to have had the chance to hear speak, this is a sad lesson that one must take advantage of any opportunity that one has to achieve a goal. I will redouble my efforts to hear/meet the ones that are still with us. (and I truly hope remain with us for a long time)

Matt's untimely death is a big loss. Like many posters here, I have serious doubts about some of his claims regarding the BP Deepwater spill, but his contributions overall - to revealing and explaining the pickle we're in - cannot be overstated.

The question is, how can we best honor him? I would suggest that we pose the following question again and again, until the whole damned world faces up to it:

"How is it possible we are not setting aside reserves of fossil fuels we will LEAVE IN THE GROUND, just in case the transition to a post-fossil-fuel economy takes a while...and our children and grandchildren still need some oil and coal and natural gas for truly important things like growing food and keeping the lights on at the hospital?

"Is this not a criminal failure in stewardship?"

Great question...that Matt would have loved. Oil is an amazing resource, that can do so many amazing things. And yet we just burn it. Day after day. I know Banksy is having a field day with this subject.

I think honouring the man will come in people's actions. I have a container garden on my balconey in large part because of this man. In terms of Peak Oil a word just occured to me - indefatigable.

Yeah...that's it. He was amazing...indefatigable..


But what if what Matt said recently about BP's cap-and-plug video was true? I just read a lengthy land surveyors report that showed that the coordinates of the plugging work do not match up with the location of the spill, but with another well. Maybe the survey is true, also. It sure looked valid. I went through the report several times. I'm sorry, but I think I believe that it's correct. I think I believe Matt's judgment about the location of the well. What does this mean? Does everyone here believe that I am nuts, too?

You are not nuts.

Though....if you have the credibility to get on mainstream media with your concerns....then be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you Matt. You knew who and what we are all up against.

Yes, you are nuts too.

Yes, Ann is "nuts". The official story is ALWAYS accurate, complete, and truthful, especially when billions of dollars and national honor and legitimacy are at stake. After the official proclamations are tendered, only the "nuts" inquire any further. For example:

Watchtower: I don't understand what you said about my comment. Am I threatened by something?

You are not nuts. the truth is somewhere in-between, most likely.

Ann, I think Watchtower just means that if you had actual information, and had media access by which to disseminate it, you would be silenced the way it is done in a bad gangster film. But as you do not have those things, you do not need to worry at all.

You are not nuts. On the contrary, you are getting the picture.

Thanks for clarifying my message with brevity and eloquence.

RIP Matt. Your vision was far seeing in a world of clouds...

I'm certain everyone is deeply sadden by Mr. Simmons sudden death. His book, "Twilight in the Desert" truly changed my life. I gave away many copies and would question everyone to see if they had read it and understood the gravity of its meaning. Even though we had never met I felt as if I knew him as I spoke of him so frequently. He was a man of intellect and was so passionate on the subject of Peak Oil. I question if the Peak Oil debate would be so well known were it not for his efforts. I see many of the more influential TOD posters that give him credit for their awakening. God speed

Brave souls are few and far between. I have never met nor seen him speak but his presentations over the years were factually based and simply presented, a big achievement in itself in a day of spin and politicing. I applaud his courage to speak out this very important topic (peak oil) and encourage those he mentored to continue to do the same. Condolences to his friends and family.

A real loss to the community. I first met Matt in Edinburgh in 2005, he was radical, passionate and credible as he explained the situation as he saw it. His presentation that day had focused on data transparency or lack thereof, he outlined what it would take to get a good idea of the Middle East. Sad that his simple plan hasn't been enacted given how important it is. Say what you will about hyperbole and his more recent pronouncements on the BP accident, he has been incredibly successful at raising attention of what could be the most serious threat we face. We all owe him, he will be missed.

That day in Edinburgh was my first exposure to Matt Simmons as well. I can clearly remember sitting in that, my first significant peak oil event, listening to three very credible speakers each already well known in the field. As with Euan, Matt's book was also one of the first I read. His early work certainly had a big impact on me.

I'm guessing it might have been 2005 that I first heard him speak at the University of Aberdeen - probably my first introduction to flat line reporting of reserves etc.

He was a charismatic speaker. The lecture theatre was packed and everyone was subjected to a torrent of information. I think one of his greatest achievements was actually catching the attention of the Saudis who went on to release a lot more data than before. However, much of this data showed what a professional operation ARAMCO actually is.

He also got the attention of the IEA and forced them to change their stance. A tough act to follow.

In 2005 I was sitting in my backyard in Toronto reading the Sunday book section. I saw "Twilight" on the bestseller list. I had never heard of Peak Oil. This was my epiphany moment.

I remember it very clearly as I don't think a single book has had such an effect on me.

History will remember Matt Simmons.

It was a shock to learn of the untimely passing of Matt Simmons. Despite disagreeing with his recent pronouncements, I would have liked to have gotten to know him and discussed his views and his reasoning. He was obviously a man of passion and accomplishment. His contributions to the world of energy and to the world at large were significant and he will be missed.

My profound condolences to his family and to his many friends.

RIP and Thank you

I think of Twilight in the Dessert every time I see the Oil Drum logo or icon in my browser.

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, ... a great deal of it is absolutely fatal." - Oscar Wilde

RIP Matt Simmons and rest assured that your sincerity was appreciated.

The thing that strikes me, reading The Oil Drum front page, is that while Matthew Simmons had the wealth to try to buy a separate peace, as described in Altaira's post "Can the Wealthy Have a Separate Peace - Revisited" (8/8/2010), he instead chose to stick his neck out and try to alert as many people as possible to the dangers he saw facing his country and his world. He went further and tried to develop a new sustainable energy source via the Ocean Energy Institute, and also wasn't afraid to "put his money where his mouth is" and back up his oil price predictions with a sizable gentleman's wager (I believe a charity will benefit whoever wins). It all adds up to high level of character.

Also, while I've read many books with Peak Oil as their subject, Twilight in the Desert I especially liked because Matt Simmons really got down into the nuts and bolts of the problems of producing more oil out of the Saudi fields. It helped me understand how what I mathematically knew was a certainty would actually play out on the ground.

Thanks, Mr. Simmons.

Back in 1973, I had very little, if any, actual knowledge about peak oil or its obvious implications for our future, although I had already started to envision global problems after reading "The Limits to Growth" by the Club of Rome. The first real sense of urgency I felt in this field came years later from two videos. Colin Campbell spoke of it at Uppsala University, and the other was a very indepth interview of Matt Simmons by Julian Darby of GlobalPublicMedia. Colin provided the facts, but Matt provided legitimate reasons for everyone to have a genuine concern for the future.

Thanks to Matt's insights, I spent much time after that exhaustively searching libraries and the Internet for anything that could provide me and my family with a means of being able to continue leading a productive life should a worse case energy scenario present itself. The results of my investigation gave me everything that I will ever need for as long as I am alive, and it will guarantee that my children will have it as well, long after my eventual demise. Because of Matt's concern for the human condition, if petroleum fuels were to disappear tomorrow altogether, I would have no problem with powering farm implements to grow as much food as my family needs, and provide heat and electricity for my home perpetually, without any need of corporate, or other commercial intervention.

I owe Matt a lot, and so does everyone else who heeded his warnings and took the initiative to act in their own behalf to prevent personal disaster. In essence, it could be said that some of us feel as if we owe him the lives of ourselves and our children, and his presence in the peak oil debate will be sorely missed. It is with deep regret that I never had the opportunity to meet the man face to face, as I have very little doubt that we could have become very close friends, even though I used to bust his chops privately because of his overuse of the word 'basically'! I do hope he can forgive me for it.

However, his legacy will live on, and for every person who takes the concept of peak oil seriously and makes plans for their own future because of Matt's videos that will be circulating throughout the Internet for years to come, they shall become one more feather in his cap that will surely open up doors for him that many people on this planet may never see.

From a dear friend that you never saw, may you rest in peace, Matt. I shall look forward to meeting you on the other side.

I have noticed that there are many people who believe they owe a great debt to Matt. But very few people have even mentioned his Ocean Energy Institute. In lieu of flowers, his family has asked for donations to OEI. I just thought someone should mention that.

67 is not bad for someone with chronic congestive heart failure, which he had, along with high blood pressure, both exacerbated by obesity and a penchant for a drink or two. But he'll be missed. RIP

Приветствую всех жителей блога. Позвольте к вам присоединиться. Хорошего блога должно быть много, поэтому, народ, активнее .. Комментируем...

The downward slope of Peak Oil is probably still some years out.

I'm in my mid-50s ... is it REALLY worthwhile for those in my age bracket or older to bother making preparations?

As in Matt Simmons' case, the Grim Reaper is a more likely visitor than chaos caused by Peak Oil ...