ROCKLAND, Maine — Matthew Simmons, an energy investment banker who espoused the peak oil theory and became an advocate for alternative energy, has died at his North Haven island home, officials said Monday. He was 67.
The founder of Houston-based Simmons & Co. International wrote the 2005 book “Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy,” raising concerns about Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves and laying out his theory that the world was approaching peak oil production.
Two years later, Simmons founded The Ocean Energy Institute, a think tank and venture capital fund in Rockland to promote offshore wind energy research and development.
The institute is a part of the consortium led by the University of Maine, which aims to design and test floating deep-water wind turbine platforms.
“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,” said Maine Gov. John Baldacci, who attended the opening of the institute’s headquarters last month.
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.
In 1974, Simmons founded Simmons & Co. International, which grew into one of the largest investment banking companies serving the energy industry. He continued to serve as chairman emeritus until last month, when he retired to give his full energy to the Ocean Energy Institute.
“We are deeply saddened by the unexpected loss of a true visionary and friend. As a pivotal figure in the lives of many of our employees, and countless others across the energy industry, Matt will be sorely missed,” Simmons & Co. CEO Mike Frazier said in a statement.
Simmons was critical of BP PLC’s handling of the Gulf oil spill and predicted the company would file for bankruptcy. In one interview, he said the cleanup costs could top $1 trillion.
As an international energy expert, Simmons correctly predicted in 2007 that oil would surpass $100 a barrel. The following year, it peaked at $147 a barrel.