Matt Simmons is one of the key voices in bringing Peak Oil to public awareness. His 2005 book Twilight in the Desert raised a lot of (as yet) unanswered questions about Saudi Arabia’s reserves and ability to actually ramp up production beyond around 9MBD in order to act as the global “swing” producer. I have a lot of respect for this work and Simmons appears to have respect in the industry he’s worked in for 40 years.
However, his comments on the BP Deepwater Horizon / Macondo blowout appear to indicate he’s a few cards short of a full deck. James Howard Kuntsler weighed in yesterday with a “what if he’s right?” I’ve spent a few hours at TheOilDrum.com digging into some of Simmons’s claims, all of which are unsubstantiated or just plain wrong:
- There’s a lake of heavy crude lying at the bottom of the Gulf. In fact, there are confirmed plumes of hydrocarbons at various layers in the water column, but the concentrations are in the <1ppm range (NOAA, UGA, USF).
- The casing, riser, string and Blow Out Preventer (BOP) all shot out of the hole and are lying along the floor of the GOM, miles away from an open hole gushing 120-200KBD into the gulf. In fact, GPS, the condition of the BOP and the fact of visible leaks seen by everyone coming from the riser and BOP indicate the well bore is intact and still in the hole.
- Methane is toxic (this one’s my favorite- more toxic than hydrogen sulfide!!) and there’s tons of it out in the GOM which will kill everyone if its blown ashore in a hurricane. In fact this is patently absurd. Methane is an asphyxiant when it tops 15% concentration in air, but is not toxic per se.
So what’s going on here? Is he nuts? Is he deliberately dinking with the media in order to play BP stock (where he’s short)? Is he having us on? Is he deliberately making us think he’s nuts in order to short his own Peak Oil cred? Is he trying to make a point about how gullible the media are?
Of all of these, I’d prefer to believe the last one. I saw one interview where he was on with another industry insider and said something about using a nuclear device to close the well, then followed it with “Red Adaire used to do that,” with the other guy shaking his head up and down in agreement. I think what Red Adaire used to do, actually, was to extinguish well head fires with conventional explosives. So its fascinating to see that everyone will go along with an expert talking head even when they are spouting absolute malarkey.