BP announced a commitment of up to $500 million to an open research program, studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident, and its associated response, on the marine and shoreline environment of the Gulf of Mexico.

The key questions to be addressed by what is proposed to be a 10-year research program are, according to BP, based on discussions with the US government and academic scientists. Topics to be considered will include:

  • Where are the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersants going under the action of ocean currents?
  • How do oil, the dispersed oil and the dispersants behave on the seabed, in the water column, on the surface, and on the shoreline?
  • What are the impacts of the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersants on the biota of the seabed, the water column, the surface, and the shoreline?
  • How do accidental releases of oil compare to natural seepage from the seabed?
  • What is the impact of dispersants on the oil? Does it help or hinder biodegradation?
  • How will the oil, the dispersed oil, and the dispersants interact with tropical storms, and will this interaction impact the seabed, the water column and the shoreline?
  • What can be done to improve technology: To detect oil, dispersed oil, and dispersants on the seabed, in the water column, and on the surface? For remediating the impact of oil accidently released to the ocean?

BP already has ongoing marine research programs in the Gulf of Mexico. Building on these, BP will appoint an independent advisory panel to construct the long term research program. Where appropriate, the studies may be coordinated with the ongoing natural resources damages assessment. The program will engagearine biologists and oceanographers. More immediately, a baseline of information for the long-term research program is needed. A first grant to Louisiana State University will help kick start this work, according to BP.