Matthew R. Simmons, 67, who founded Simmons & Co. International in 1974, died on Aug. 8 in Maine. Simmons founded the Houston-based energy investment bank and had become an industry go-to expert and frequent critic. He routinely filled energy conference halls with his insights and criticism about oil and natural gas issues. Simmons started the investment bank in May 1974 to focus on the oil services industry, and by 1981 the firm employed 13 people. While some financial services firms abandoned the energy sector through the 1980s, Simmons & Co. persevered and began to work on bankruptcy workouts and debt restructurings. In 1995 Simmons & Co. redefined itself to offer "total energy services," with a focus on companies with natural gas plants, pipelines and other gathering systems, as well as the downstream sector. In 1998 an office was opened in Aberdeen, Scotland. Two years later the firm completed its first investment banking assignment in the exploration and production sector, now a major part of the firm's business. Simmons was a proponent of the "peak oil" theory; in his book Twilight in the Desert he offered detailed research that he believed indicated that the world was running out of fossil fuels. Simmons retired as chairman emeritus of the bank in June to devote his full time to the Ocean Energy Research Institute, which he founded in 2007. The institute is a think tank and venture capital fund that focused on the challenges of the U.S. offshore renewable energy industry, including wind energy.
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