free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 97. MATT SIMMONS AND ANWR

Monday, September 12, 2005


It's hard to shake the impression that environmental peak oilers are being incredibly naive and stupid thinking that Matt Simmons is a "hero".

It seems to me that Matt Simmons isn't an investment banker. His current "job" is to talk up peak oil in the media, and scare the shit out of everybody so oil industry lobbyists can pressure Congress into drilling ANWR. He's a tool of Dick Cheney. He also contributed $100,000 to George Bush's last inauguration party (Source). And all the fool environmentalists like Heinberg are just getting used. They're a bunch of poultry deferentially inviting the wolf to speak in the hen house.

Exhibit A: Matt Simmons has been obsessed with opening ANWR for years, even prior to his peak oil activism (see transcript at the bottom of the post). And he's still obsessed with it. His most recent interview on peak oil appeared in Petroleum News on Sept. 11, 2005. Here's the headline of the story:
Saudi oil shock ahead
Simmons pokes holes in image of unlimited Middle East oil; prepare for worst
And here's the first two sentences:
As Congress turns to legislation that could open a new era of Alaska Arctic oil production, one highly regarded energy analyst says he's convinced the move is critical to the success of a national energy strategy.

Matthew R. Simmons, author of "Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy," (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2005), says crude from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's 1.5-million-acre coastal plain could play a valuable role in the nation's energy policy.
Seems like a disconnect, doesn't it? Actually, there's no disconnect at all.
Matt Simmons is turning up the "Saudi collapse" rhetoric to create a climate of fear which will result in the U.S. Senate signing off on drilling in ANWR. Yes, it's just another amazing coincidence that Simmons is fearmongering like never before, just as the provisions on ANWR are entering a delicate phase in the Senate:
The Senate Energy committee was scheduled to meet September 14 to vote on language for the federal budget that would raise an estimated $2.4 billion from leasing tracts in ANWR to energy companies for oil exploration.

That language would then be forwarded to the Senate Budget Committee, which would fold it into the giant budget bill that funds the federal government.

However, after Senate and House leaders decided to delay crafting the budget package for at least two weeks, the energy panel said it postponed its meeting on the ANWR drilling language.Source
Matt's really pulling out the stops on this current fear-mongering tour. Check this out:
But by 2030 we could easily have a world that can only produce 10 or 15 or 20 million barrels per day, and the shortfall from what we thought we were going to produce is only a modest 100 million barrels per day. So this is really a major, major, major global issue(Source: Petroleum News article cited above. Also see Note* at the bottom).
This is nothing but pure lobbyist FUD, a load of major, major, major bullshit that nobody agrees with. Nobody believes world oil production will be 10-20mbd in 2030 -- not Exxon/Mobil, not Shell, not the USGS, not the DOE, not Sadad Al Husseini (see #89), not Colin Campbell, not ASPO, not Jean Laherrere... Nobody. Simmons is talking out his ass. He is not a petroleum engineer, or a geologist, and he has a sum total of zero first hand knowledge of reservoir engineering, and zero first hand knowledge of the Saudi oil fields -- the two subjects on which he is now respectfully regarded as the world's foremost expert.

This is all just part of a trend. Boone Pickens is all over the media hyping peak oil because every time oil ticks up he nets an obscene profit (see #12). Chevron is all over the media hyping peak oil because it helped them muscle out CNOOC and lock up the Unocal deal (see #80, #82). And Matt Simmons is all over the media hyping peak oil because he wants to drill ANWR and tend to his own bread and butter as a deal architect for the oil and gas industry.

Personally, it's not drilling ANWR that bothers me. Energy is important, and we will have to drill ANWR at some point -- with the proper environmental protections in place, of course. The question I have is this: What the hell are we going to do with the oil we pump out of ANWR? If we're going to use it to fuel the status quo -- i.e. 10-mile long traffic jams every morning, and the Ford Explorer of Amanda P. Suburbia driving all over town to find just the right frisbee for her dog -- then I'm firmly against it. I don't care how environmentally sound the drilling process is. That's just greenwashing, because that oil is just going to get wasted in passenger car engines, and that isn't environmentally sound, or even necessary.

Note*) There was some controversy about whether Simmons actually said this, so I contacted the editor-in-chief of Petroleum News. The author, Rose Ragsdale, confirms that the quote is genuine, and there is an audio recording of Simmons making the comment, verbatim.

Note from JD) This discussion is continuing in the Peak Oil Debunked Forum
Transcript of Matthew R. Simmons, testifying on the topic of ANWR before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, April 3, 2001 (Read the original too. Matt does a long spiel pooh-poohing fuel-efficient vehicles. Conservation isn't going to cut it, doncha know. The only thing that's going to help is drilling ANWR ANWR ANWR...):
At the end of the day, we have to increase our domestic supply of oil and natural gas, but getting this done requires fast action by both public and private sectors to begin eliminating all of the obstacles that now make it so hard to make real gains in the supply of either domestic gas or oil.
Access to where these reserves reside is obviously extremely important. While it is politically popular to attack the need to open up a few thousand acres of ANWR, this important area could create several hundred thousand barrels a day of extra oil and natural gas, and possibly even far more. So it is too important to abandon. It is time for ANWR's opponents to stop broadcasting photographs of pristine alpine mountain meadows of areas within the 19 million acre reserve which happen to be hundreds of miles away from where any oil and gas development would ever take place.
Lease Sale 181 in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico is just as vital as ANWR, perhaps even more so. This highly gas-prone area is over 100 miles west of Florida at its closest point, but it is right next to the most efficient infrastructure to bring these reserves to where they can be
The Department of the Interior is just beginning a critically important survey or inventory of all of the reserve prospects to the lower 48 States. I would highly encourage expanding this inventory assessment to the entire Outer Continental Shelf of the United States, including the waters offshore of California. This exercise does not commit any area to development, it would merely help identify where emergency relief might be found.
How tragic it would be to see the economy of a State like California destroyed through a lack of natural gas and electricity, all because natural gas lying just off its coast was never developed.Source


At Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 6:01:00 AM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post, thanks.

At Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 12:29:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"His current "job" is to talk up peak oil in the media..."

It seems selling this is JD's agenda in #97

"He's a tool of Dick Cheney..."

There goes my crank meter. Does this qualify everyone on the list as 'a tool of Dick Cheney'?

"Exhibit A: Matt Simmons has been obsessed with opening ANWR for years"

Well I see him discussing it. Where is the obsession? Another quote from Matt:
ANWR is not “The Answer”. However, it makes great sense to develop. Drilling there should not have a negative impact on the coastal plains of the Arctic. With great luck, it could create between 300,000 and possibly up to 1.5 million barrels of oil a day and lots of natural gas that could last a decade or two. But this does not become the sole answer. On the other hand, if ANWR is kept off limits, it becomes no answer.

And a quote from JD:
Personally, it's not drilling ANWR that bothers me. Energy is important, and we will have to drill ANWR at some point...

Does this make you obsessed JD?

Matt Simmons is turning up the "Saudi collapse" rhetoric...

Crank meter is moving. He has been pretty clear that with the information he has, Ghawar could decline rapidly. If he is obsessed, it is about the lack of transparency in the industry.

Matt's really pulling out the stops on this current fear-mongering tour...

JD doesn't question the words of Rose Ragsdale. Instead he assumes this can't possibly be a miss quote. It was more likely that Matt said, 'a decline in production of 10,15 or 20.'

Matt does a long spiel pooh-poohing fuel-efficient vehicles.

There goes that crank meter again. Perhaps you could quote the spiel here. You sure didn't quote it in #97.


In the end we have a clear case of the kettle calling the pot black. JD carries on about doomers instead of addressing the numbers. But now it seems he is caught red handed playing the same game he is accusing others of.

Best, Dan.

At Tuesday, September 13, 2005 at 4:33:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JD, would it be possible for you to make one post without making such an ass of yourself? I mean there must be a way for you to make your points but in a way where you don't end up sounding like come cranky baby who managed to figure out how to use daddy's keyboard.

At Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 2:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger James Shannon said...

Any member of the Bush cabal I view with instant skepticism. Though I do not doubt his credentials as an oilman, you'd be fool to think that his motives are completely altrustic.

Having said that, I believe that it may be posssible that he is concerned with the stability of society. Just don't blindly accept anything said by him, or by anybody, at face value. Critical analysis and thinking are our friends.

At Wednesday, September 14, 2005 at 5:25:00 PM PDT, Blogger JD said...

JD doesn't question the words of Rose Ragsdale. Instead he assumes this can't possibly be a miss quote. It was more likely that Matt said, 'a decline in production of 10,15 or 20.'

Rose Ragsdale confirms that Simmons did in fact say the words attributed to him. There is an audio recording of him making the statement, verbatim.

At Monday, November 28, 2005 at 7:34:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read an interesting article on it I would like to share with you...

At Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 6:28:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He said on his website:

While some folks desperately cling to the belief that oil is a renewable resource, others hold on to the equally delusional idea that tapping the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve will solve, or at least delay, this crisis. While drilling for oil in ANWR will certainly make a lot of money for the companies doing the drilling, it won't do much to help the overall situation for three reasons:

Reason #1. According of the Department of Energy, drilling in ANWR will only lower oil prices by less than fifty cents;

Reason #2. ANWR contains 10 billion barrels of oil - or about the amount the US consumes in a little more than a year.

Reason #3. As with all oil projects, ANWR will take about 10 years to come online. Once it does, its production will peak at 875,000 barrels per day - but not till the year 2025. By then the US is projected to need a whopping 35 million barrels per day while the world is projected to need 120 million barrels per day.

That was at


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