BP promises $500 million to study impact of oil spill
The pledge came after the U.S. government threatened to take over the response to the environmental disaster.
Mon, May 24, 2010 at 11:02 AM
LOOKING BACK: Dispersant-clotted oil and fresh crude float on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. The BP study will look at whether chemicals used to disperse the oil helped or hindered. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Oil giant BP pledged Monday up to $500 million to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon rig spill on the Gulf of Mexico environment.
The pledge came as BP faced mounting pressure to check the massive oil leak, after the U.S. government threatened to take over the response to the month-old disaster.
A 10-year research program would study topics including how oil and the chemicals used to disperse it were affected by ocean currents, and how they were dispersed in the sea and on shore.
"BP has made a commitment to doing everything we can to lessen the impact of this tragic incident on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast," BP chief executive Tony Hayward said in a statement.
"We must make every effort to understand that impact. This will be a key part of the process of restoration, and for improving the industry response capability for the future," he added.
And he said: "There is an urgent need to ensure that the scientific community has access to the samples and the raw data it needs to begin this work."
The research program would also examine how accidental oil spills compare to natural seepage from the seabed, whether chemicals used to disperse the oil helped or hindered biodegradation, and what can be done to improve technology.
The BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers, and sank two days later. Ever since, hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil, perhaps even millions, have spewed each day into the sea, threatening marine and shore-based wildlife, fishing industries and tourism.
Copyright 2010 AFP Global Edition