Matt Simmons gained fame with his book 2005 Twilight in the Desert where he claimed that the Saudis were overstating their oil output because they hit “peak oil.”

Right or wrong Simmons claimed the price of oil was going to skyrocket and three years after the book’s release the crude oil hit $147/Barrel.

In January 2009 the WSJ called Simmons one of the five most important voices in the oil industry.

Simmons has been wrong in the past and his views are non-conventional and often correct. Simmons is also highly connected within the oil industry so he knows who to talk to verify his claims.

I have no idea if Simmons is right or wrong but his latest claims, laid out in a Bloomberg TV interview Friday (May 28) appear to be nothing short of sensational.

Matt Simmons says “Top Kill” is a sideshow, misses the big problem of a second leak 5 to 7 miles away releasing up to 120,000 barrels/day. Simmons goes on to say we might need nukes to seal the leak.


Today Matt Simmons, one of the largest investment bankers in the energy industry appeared on Bloomberg. The chairman of Simmons & Co. INTL went on to explain that there is much more to the oil leak than the news has been reporting. Last Sunday, NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original. This new fissure appears to be releasing a plume the size of Delaware and Maryland combined! He went on to state that “the plume from the riser is minor thing… the best estimate is about 120,000 barrels of oil per day”.

Simmons is quoted as saying, “Obama could remove BP today… tell BP it is time to leave”. Some questions were also brought up that pertained to a nuclear device and how the military could lower one 18,000 feet into the well bore.

Simmons went on to say ” Such techniques have been used by the Russians on several different occasions”.

Matt Simmons “… From all of the best scientists who have thought about this in the past few days, probably the only thing we can do is create a weapons system and send it down 18,000 feet, detonate it and hopefully case in the oil.”

That we would even have discussions about setting of nuclear explosions in hope they would accomplish something is certainly not encouraging to say the least.

A day after scientists reported finding a huge “plume” of oil extending miles east of the leaking BP well, on Friday a Louisiana scientist said his crew had located another vast plume of oily globs, miles in the opposite direction.

James H. Cowan Jr., a professor at Louisiana State University, said his crew on Wednesday found a plume of oil in a section of the gulf 75 miles northwest of the source of the leak.

Cowan said that his crew sent a remotely controlled submarine into the water, and found it full of oily globules, from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a golf ball. Unlike the plume found east of the leak — in which the oil was so dissolved that contaminated water appeared clear — Cowan said the oil at this site was so thick that it covered the lights on the submarine.

“It almost looks like big wet snowflakes, but they’re brown and black and oily,” Cowan said. The submarine returned to the surface entirely black, he said.

Cowan said that the submarine traveled about 400 feet down, close to the sea floor, and found oil all the way down. Trying to find the edges of the plume, he said the submarine traveled miles from side to side.

“We really never found either end of it,” he said.

This discovery seems to confirm the fears of some scientists that — because of the depth of the leak and the heavy use of chemical “dispersants” — this spill was behaving differently than others. Instead of floating on top of the water, it may be moving beneath it.

Simmons went on the say scientist are now convinced the last majority of oil is below, and often well below, the surface. June 1 starts hurricane season and they worry that a hurricane coming aground in the Louisiana / Mississippi area could “push” all the below surface oil on the beaches and even inland.

Category: Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

20 Responses to “Senasational Claims By Matt Simmons About The BP Leak”

  1. Abhishek says:

    The whole BP Oil Spill story has been one long list of failures,lies and ineptitude by all the major stakeholders involved.The Obama administration,BP and the Oil Regulator have all been guilty of incompetence,procrastination,finger pointing and cover-ups.All of BP’s efforts have come to naught while dealing with the Oil Spill.The much heralded “top kill” operation which was supposed to have a high probability of success joins the other efforts in the failure list.

  2. Avl Dao says:

    There’s a different caliber and type of finger pointing that’s deserved once the ‘horse escaped from the barn’ (once the rig exploded) as the efforts to capture the roaming horses fail (stop the oil leak).
    The talking heads on the media may be parroting the line that the leak is a mile underwater but they have no idea of the realities that creates, and since most folks get their “information” from TV talking heads, most folks and elected politicians have no idea how unlikely it is that BP or any human endeavor will get this problem fully solved to our satisfactorily. We fail to grasp the scientific hurdles we now face.
    You’d think after 40 days someone would report that the pressure down there would destroy most machines, and that our private-sector deep-sea robotic technology is not sophisticated enough to do all the things a skilled human could do at normal surface, in a dry environment and under well-lit conditions.
    I always said the media’s, American’s and politicians lack of knowledge of basic science would come back to haunt them. Few even know that our military sub fleets do not operate at that depth or anything remotely approaching that depth.
    Our expectations of success at plugging this deep sea oil leak are wildly unwarranted and undeserved.
    And yes, this criticism of ‘us’ transcends the fact that BP has been lying to us.
    Our ignorance should not be so great and wide-spread that we fall for each, every and any false hope, false promise and lie from BP, no matter how simple or boldface it is.
    At this juncture, I blame ‘us’ to blame list that includes the media, clueless local politicians, the oil industry and their regulators and other enablers, and Team Obama for allowing their own scientific ignorance to enable their silly assumptions that the private sector could get this under control in a week or two.

  3. Clay says:

    Saw that yesterday. Two videos are available at the link below. The first video is of Simmons on Bloomberg and the second of him and Nicholas Pozzi (in the oil business) on MSNBC by Dylan Ratigan:

    Based on what I have been reading it appears a vast majority of the oil is below the surface of the Gulf amassed in numerous large oil plumes, which will probably make extraction very difficult if feasible.

  4. alfred e says:

    IMHO, Simmons is voicing some self-serving fear-mongering and panic.

    And needs to put a sock in it.

  5. zzzzmd says:

    I have to admit, that I think Avl Dao is spot on, as is Matt Simons
    The average American/media pundit/politician is absolutely clueless about science/physics/medicine etc.
    The physical forces at the depth are incomprehensible for 99% of people to comprehend.
    It is pitch black, with the psi of 1 ton, or the weight of 1 mid-sized car per square inch! Normal engineering that most people think of at the surface does not exist down there.

    I mentioned to several people the only way would be undersea hydrogen bomb explosion, turning the whole thing to a glass cap. Of course I have no way to know if you can engineer an explosion at that depth. Bikini atoll was very shallow, and probably all the data we have.
    What that might set of is also probably not 100% predictable.
    The only certainty here is that NOTHING will be certain, risks will have to be taken, educated guesses made. This will be a catastrophe like only envisioned in science fiction movies I fear. Forces of nature unpredictable have been set in motion. I only watch in awe, and having lived in New Orleans for many years, years ago, and visited yearly for 20 years, in the end, I predict Katrina will pale in comparison to what this ongoing catastrophe will eventually be. A whole way of life will be gone and the coast spoiled in our quest for oil. The freaken greenies were against nuclear reactors, Chernobyl will not compare to this either. Katrina and Chernobyl had an end, I fear this may not. Imagine this spewing oil at this rate for 10 years or more?
    Mark my words here!

  6. alfred e says:

    Eh. Someone posted a list of the worst spills and the aftermaths. Some much, much bigger ones went on for a lot longer – and in the Gulf. And they were all eventually tamed.

    Patience. This is not a TV soap opera that has to conclude in an hour.

    I am not happy. But I am not ready to panic either.

    No one is being totally “transparent” about what’s involved. Including the geology of the area. And why they are patiently working through solutions the way they are.

    IMHO, based on the flaws in their well, they never got a true pressure reading of what a monster formation this is. They had some hints. But apparently chose to undervalue them.

    Nuke it? Yeah, right, lets scatter radiation throughout the Gulf and see how that affects things. Got a clue? Oil, through seeps, has been a part of the Gulf ecology for a long, long time.

    Glass dome my ass. Why don’t we try it and see how many existing oil seep fissures decide to really turn loose. And then figure out what to do with millions of barrels of radioactive oil washing ashore.

    If you don’t know the geology and the data, keep a lid on it. There have already been reports of well cavings from drilling too fast. That tells me they are working in a very “loose, soft, relatively young” structural area. Where most anything can happen.

  7. alfred e says:

    Here’s a thought that just came to mind. The BOP was supposedly capable of severing the well head, shutting flow off.

    That did not work. We have been given little or no information about whether the oil is from the riser and casing or BOP.

    Now they want to saw the riser off evenly and pretend to cap it.

    Why not apply a clamping action above the BOP to restrict the riser and then cut the riser above that? And cap it there?????

    The more they can restrict the riser or casing just above the BOP the less oil flow there will be. It’s called a pincer action.

    Surely they have the tools for performing that. Where’s Jaws from James Bond when you most need him?

  8. I think BP is more concerned with salvaging the asset than solving the problem. This is probably reason #1 why the USG should step in. The government has duty to the people affected by this mess whereas the one currently running the operation seem only to be interested in protecting the bottom line

  9. constantnormal says:

    I worry about a headlong rush to “nuke” the well in order to seal it. As noted elsewhere, the Russians have used this technique in the past, on dry land wells, and have had it work … 4 out of 5 times.

    We need to understand the geology of this situation before plunging forth with the “quick fix” … “quick responses” are what put us into this situation, and they are unlikely to make things better instead of worse.

    Imagine a situation wherein a dome of high-pressure oil (estimated at 29,000 psi at the bottom of the borehole) has the top either blown off or weakened around the edges of the area fused by a nuke, and we wind up dumping the entire reservoir of oil into the Gulf.

    There is ample evidence that the borehole casing possesses less than 100% of its intended integrity, at some level down, where the lack of one of the required parts has likely provided a path for the gas explosion to the surface. It may well be that a rush job in applying the cement securing the casings has also weakened the well, allowing all that pressure from way down below to eat away at the softer sea floor above it, forcing new pathways for the oil to emerge through. There are plenty of reasons for proceeding with caution.

    That bit of hysteria-mongering out of the way, the folks at BP (and their peers in the industry) know a lot more about the geology involved here that does the US goobermint. It would be insane to elbow them outa the way and grandstand another “mission accomplished” fiasco. The situation needs to be openly studied (openness being something that BP has not been very good at to date) by all qualified parties, and when it is adequately understood, some corrective action taken to close the well.

    Until that time, the best that can be done is to focus on collecting the oil as fast as it emerges, and thus far the track record there has not been particularly impressive either. I do wonder where all this collected oil is going to be stored …

  10. alfred e says:

    Do not tune into this feed. It’s addictive.

    It’s readily apparent my idea won’t work. DUH. If they coulda they woulda. Well it’s already been kinked.

    The bend is right above the BOP.

    Fascinating to see those cute little ROVs work using their small but powerful hydraulic claws.

    At least we can see progress being made.

    Man, when they saw through below the bend, lookout.

    All bets are off.

  11. alfred e says:

    PS: Somebody deserves credit for the feed. A very complete, honest, direct video feed. No hiding out.

    And clearly, IMHO, this is now their only chance left short of the relief wells.

    So, IMHO, somebody exercised pretty good judgment to save this one for last.

    A sphincter moment is approaching.

    But I’m gaining confidence in BP and their contractors right now.

  12. Clay says:

    After hearing Simmons suggest the nuking option, I thought it could possibly be feasible. Then someone pointed out that bombing could open up existing fissures or cracks in the ocean floor or possibly create other weak areas where oil could leak out. I also thought that BP would probably have to abandon this reservoir if a nuclear bomb were close enough to the oil (18,000 ft or so below the ocean floor). I think BP may have said at one time they were going to abandon this reservoir after they stop the leak, but after all they have invested there I doubt they would do that, unless the Federal gov’t stops them.

    While searching for something else, I happened upon this MMS map at the link below which shows active leases, existing oil and gas pipelines (on the ocean floor I presume) and other info. See the legend at the bottom of the map for explanations. I had no idea there were that many pipelines down there. If a bomb were used to seal off the BP pipe from the reservoir I wonder if it could possibly crack or sever some of these pipelines also. If so, it could create more leaks, more legal and financial liability to those affected including possible indeterminable liability from damages to coastal areas, the fish industry, et al. If this happened, then identifying which oil caused damages to whom and where would be a nightmare. The MMS map of Active Leases and Infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico as of Feb. 10, 2010:

  13. Clay says:

    Sorry, ignore the second link….it’s a duplicate of the first. Don’t know how that happened.

  14. alfred e says:

    I take back my previous taking back.

    After watching the video, and reviewing past comments, very little of the spill is near the wellhead.

    If they “simply crimped” the riser between the wellhead and the first major leak point, they could cut the spill to a fraction of the current level.

    And then they could “bandaid wrap” the leak points above the BOP and wait for the relief wells to seal the deal.

    And who am I to know anything about anything?

    Just my two cents.

    My suspicion now is that BP at some point wants to reopen this well. Several $Mil from some exec’s bonus, you know.

  15. tooppy says:

    All these comments, talks are good to keeps medias busy, they love that and BP is going to use them to avoid spitting the truth.
    After ten years on rigs my view is as follow :

    A blow out occurred and now you have a big crater down there, BOP, base plate, reiser, drill pipes you name it, all is gone. With the inside pressure, you cannot have just the leak of a thirty inches casing. It is like trying to flow the Amazone into your garden hose, the all thing burst, and by the way that the purpose of the BOP.
    Anyway how can anyone imagine such a small pipe can flood the sea that much in such a short time ! Ridiculous !

    So why it happened ? Two possibilities for one result.
    Let say the kill & choke lines didn’t operate, the rig would never disconnect from the BOP, then when it sank, it pulled everything out provoking the blow out.
    If it did disconnect, and I need to know how, same result.
    Now let say kill & choke procedure was OK but the fire on board didn’t leave the time to disconnect…. same result again. If it managed to disconnect there won’t be any accident !

    To get an idea of the crater size, here is an example of a blow out we got through. There was only gas, sea bed at 180 meters. After a week of hudge kind of ebullition bubbles, a survey boat sonar limited to 500 meters had no echo back. This means the crater was at least 320 meters deep, therefore 960 meters in diameters !

    Now think again of all the fairy tales you have been tought up to now. Think of the nice pictures in clear water you have been lured with. Hey ! at 100 meters it is already night, what about 1500 …. moreover in oil !!!!
    If that to be the case then why they didn’t show any pictures of the rig itself ?

    Solutions ? There are none ! When you have such a crater what side drilling means ? What nuclear explosion means ? You have a volcano down there!

    BP knows exactly how big is this field, the inside pressure, the geological parameters, they can mesure this crater and estimate the duration of the phenomenon. They are going to invent all sorts of procedures till the inside pressure of the well and the sea bed pressure naturally equilized. At that time the problem would be solved.
    Then they will be granted for a great success managing stopping the leak !

  16. [...] the widely read Big Picture blog published sensational claims from investment banker Matt Simmons, which echo some of the cryptic theories of local blogger [...]

  17. Jim Letourneau says:

    Why learn about engineering when we can watch Matt Simmons on TV tell us everything we need to know?

    The world’s highest producing wells rarely exceed 50,000 bbls/day – having a leak that is 5-7 miles away at 120,000 bbls/day is pretty interesting.

  18. dorv562 says:

    I would imagine that the platform and rigging that BP installed was intended to capture 100%of the crude. They may have been surprised at the high pressure that soon developed, and it is this high pressure that must be controlled. One possible way that I have not heard mentioned is simply drilling another well close enough to reduce the pressure and eventually control the leak. This new well could be a very temporary well not necessarily able to capture 100% of the crude but enough to release the underground pressure and reduce the total amount of oil spewing into the ocean.If a second well could capture 50% of the oil we would be money ahead. In time a new well could be installed that would completely capture all the oil, BP would save face, and the water will eventually improve. Let us remember that the Santa Barbara and Price William Sound (ex Valdez) beaches were clean in about two years. Government people and environmentalists are anti-technology and completely useless here, except to litigate. Give them a rag and have them wash birds.

  19. Juno says:

    Alfred e, Jim, you are about the only people here with any coherent comments. Tooppy, have another one buddy. Sensationalism aside, look at the link Alfred has so kindly provided and you will see the BOP still there, now with a cap on it, the coast guard as of friday stating 1/3 capture rate, not the end of the world. This will all pass, as it did in Alaska (Exxon valdez). The relief wells will do their job as well. There have always been seepages on the ocean floor, they eventually get cleaned up naturally, we just don’t have the patience these days do we? Obama tries to look strong to the amerikan (intentional) public but realises he is way out of his depth here, and must let the people who are in the business of drilling do their job and provide them support or stay out of the way. To think the gubbermint can do anything but make a bad situation worse is ridiculous. By the way, with the 7 litre engines and supersized SUV’s we all like to own, do you really think Obama is going to stop drilling in the gulf? Fat chance, unless of course, you think we should just carry on buying oil from countries that love to hate US. Blame yourselves for the mess people, we are the ones slurping down the black gold, there will always be risk of spills in the oil business. But please keep these sensationalist headlines coming so I can buy BP shares really cheap and make a killing on them when all this nonsense passes! BP has more than enough money to cover the cost of cleanup. And by the way, great idea the YOU- A**-A government had when they wanted BP to not pay the dividend. BP provides up to 15% of retirees pensions through this dividend and if they listened you would really see the stock drop and the company hit the skids, then who is going to pay for the cleanup? …. Idjits.

    From the desk of Matt Simmons Ulterior Motives.

    Matt on investing: “my book, my book , my book, my book, my book, my book etc…” Are you people seriously going to listen to any of this c**p from an INVESTMENT BANKER? Are your memories soo short that you forget who got the world in the financial mess we are in? Wake up Amerika, TV won’t teach you history, politics, geography, common sense, or any truths, media has made you into fish living in a glass bowl, unaware of the realities of the world around you.

  20. Juno says:

    Please see site below for further enlightenment:

    Gee, cuz if it don’t happ’n in ‘merika, it don’t xist don’t it? Duh….

    Maybe the nigerians can sue the hell out of Exxon, THAT would teach those darned evil oilmen not to force their evil oil into our cars, —-and then the US will be paying $100 gallon. HA ha ha ha ah ah ah aaaaaaaaahhhh!!!

    Gurgle, blurp, pop (still in the fishbowl)

    Me Ted