Thursday, June 17, 2010

Matt Simmons to Retire from Simmons & Co.

Yesterday, Simmons & Co. International announced the retirement of Matt Simmons as Chairman Emeritus (an already retired sounding title).  Mr. Simmons, who founded the energy-focused investment bank 36 years ago, has become widely known lately for his thoughts on peak oil and his book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy.  More recently, he joined the camp of shale gas skeptics, downplaying the potential and productivity of North American shale gas.

In a recent post, the Financial Times pointed out the discrepancy between investment bank’s bullish stance on shale gas and that of Mr. Simmons (see bottom of article). In my professional life, I have done some work with Simmons & Co. both before the advent of shale gas and afterwards.  Back in 2006, the bankers I worked with balanced Mr. Simmons' peak oil beliefs with the take of the company's analysts.  In a transaction in 2009, the bankers only cited the company's analysts and downplayed Mr. Simmons' shale gas opinions.
It sounds like Mr. Simmons has not been active in the investment bank for a while, choosing to focus on his new baby, the Ocean Energy Institute.  The company's web site used to have a section dedicated to Mr. Simmons' speeches and presentations.  I haven't checked the site for the past six months, but I note this morning that Mr. Simmons' personal section is gone.  I don't know the circumstances from his departure, but I wonder if his retirement will alter the credibility of his shale gas criticisms.


G Parker said...

Matt Simmons also revealed in a recent interview that the majority of the BP oil leak was coming from a fissure 7 miles from the wellhead (???) Does he know something we don't, or is that just another example of why he's retiring?
Great blog. Thanks for your work.

Robert Hutchinson said...

I'm wondering if that wasn't the final straw.